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Janesville wrestlers qualify for sectional

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Craig Henquinet/Special to the Gazette
February 11, 2008
— Blair Kessler decided to take the road less traveled in his quest for a berth in the state tournament.

After wrestling most of the year at 189 pounds, the Janesville Craig High School senior made the decision to move up to 215, starting Saturday in the WIAA Division 1 regional tournament at Sun Prairie.


So far, so good as Kessler re-grouped from a second-place finish in last week’s Big Eight Conference meet to win the regional title with a pin in the finals.


“Notoriously, 189 is a really tough weight class,” Craig coach Jeff Kaster said. “When we went down to the West Allis tournament, there were 18 guys with winning records, and at 215 there were only about four guys with winning records. So that is part of the reason why we went up in weight.


“That’s his goal, to make it to state, and he has a pretty good shot of doing it.”


It only took Kessler (34-6) 1:35 to pin Kevin Sommers (9-8) of Oregon in the finals.


“You definitely want to set the tone right away,” Kessler said of his aggressive approach in the finals. “I figured I won the match before even going out on the mat, using the intimidation factor.”


It was a day of individual accomplishments for the Janesville schools as the Badger Conference teams battled for the team title. Stoughton won the regional and earned a berth in the team sectionals with 236.5 points. Verona was second with 199.5, and Oregon was third at 175.


Parker, the Big Eight Conference tournament champion, was next with 173. Craig placed fifth with 173.


With its team title, Stoughton earned the right to face Lake Geneva Badger regional champion Milton in a sectional team dual at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Stoughton. The winner advances to Feb. 29-March 1 state team tournament at the UW Field House.


The top four in each weight classes at the regional earned spots in next Saturday’s Wilmot Sectional. Parker advanced nine individuals, and Craig qualified seven.


Parker and Craig each had two regional champions. Siven Furseth (39-0) of the Cougars won at 103 pounds with three straight pins to join Kessler as champion. Parker’s Ryan Holden (36-0) and Harold Lloyd (27-2) won titles at 112 and 285, respectively.


“I don’t want to take anything away from anybody, but I didn’t think we wrestled well as a team,” Parker coach Ron Cramer said. “At the conference meet, everyone scored points, and that was one of our highlights.


“But there is nothing wrong with being 13-1 and winning the conference. So I’m happy; not joyous, but happy.”


Holden gave the Vikings one of their highlights with his title. The undefeated and fourth-ranked senior posted a 5-1 decision over 2007 state qualifier Tanner Klitzke of Stoughton to avenge last year’s loss in the regional finals.


“Last year was the same situation. I got up on him, but he ended up pinning me,” Holden said. “So I was a little nervous, but I wrestled smart.”


Lloyd also controlled his title match and earned a pin in 3:06 over Lucas Houser of Sun Prairie.


Brennan Casey-Schmidt (103) and Alex Folk (140) each advanced for Parker with second-place finishes. Evan Cavey (119), David Arndt (160) and Lewis Lobrano (171) each took third for the Vikings, while teammates Dustin Rucinski (125) and Cameron Hanson (215) placed fourth to qualify for the sectional.


Craig’s Trevor Gregoire lost a 16-8 decision to Stoughton’s Ryan Dougherty (38-3), who took third in last year’s state meet, in the 171 finals to finish second. Alex Kaster (152), Alex Burdick (189) and Boyd Maske (285) each took third for the Cougars, while Jamie Kumlien (112) was fourth.



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