Larson 4th at state individual wrestling tournamentRaider senior Nick Larson placed fourth at 152 pounds while senior Gordon Johnson and junior Tanner Owens were eliminated in the preliminary round at the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament in Madison over the weekend.
By: Bob Burrows, Hudson Star-Observer
Raider senior Nick Larson placed fourth at 152 pounds while senior Gordon Johnson and junior Tanner Owens were eliminated in the preliminary round at the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament in Madison over the weekend.
All three wrestlers will hit the mat again this weekend when they join their teammates at the WIAA Team State Championships in Madison. The Raiders will take on Holmen in a state quarterfinal match Friday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse.
Last weekend, Larson cruised in the first round with a major decision over Brian Smith of West Allis Central.
Things got a little tougher in the quarterfinals as Larson faced sixth-ranked Jon Bleach of Marquette University High School. Bleach was also a state qualifier a year ago. Larson fell behind 2-0 but came back to win 9-7.
The semi-finals pitted Larson against the eventual state champion and current No. 1 ranked Zach Benitz of Wisconsin Rapids. In the end, Larson found himself behind 3-2 but just could not get the winning takedown as the match ended with both wrestlers on their feet.
“Losing that match was tough because things were not going to get any easier,” Raider coach Chris Hansen said. “All the competitors that remained were returning state place-winners.”
That included Larson’s fourth opponent of the tournament, Branden Capetillo of Sheboygan South. Capetillo held a 43-1 record and placed fifth at state last season. The match went into overtime with Larson winning 2-1.
The final match for third and fourth place also went into overtime, this time against Bryar Harper of DeForest. Harper is currently ranked No. 2 in the state after placing third at state a season ago. Larson lost on a takedown in overtime by the score of 3-1.
Larson is one of just three Hudson wrestlers to ever wrestle at state three times. Just nine Raider wrestlers have ever placed higher then Larson’s fourth place.
Johnson made his second trip to state, becoming just the 14th Hudson wrestler to accomplish that feat.
“He found himself in a difficult spot on the bracket because the second round would be against the defending state champion,” Hansen said. “That meant the first round was a must-win as the first round loser would likely be eliminated from the tournament.”
Johnson was tied in the third period but ended up losing 3-0 and as predicted, did not get an opportunity to wrestle back into the tournament.
“It is unfortunate because earlier in the season Johnson twice beat the athlete who placed fifth,” Hansen noted.
Owens also had a little bad luck. After a first round defeat to Jake Maechtle of Port Washington, Owens was sitting in good position to wrestle back for a place. All Owens needed was an expected win by Maechtle in the second round. Turns out Maechtle got hurt in the previous match with Owens and had to forfeit out of the tournament, leaving Owens also out of the tournament.
Owens, along with Larson, has qualified for state three times but Owens is just a junior. Next season, he will look to become the first ever four-time state qualifier in Hudson history.
“I am very pleased with how these three boys wrestled,” Hansen said. “I think they set a fine example for all of the other Hudson boys sitting in the arena.”