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Raider wrestlers up to the challenge

Raider senior Austin Koski wraps up Menomonie's Mason Stokke on his way to winning a 5-4 decision in the 145 pound semifinals at the Big Rivers Conference/Dunn-St. Croix County Conference Challenge Saturday in River Falls. Koski went on to pin two-time state champion and previously undefeated Austin Moe of Glenwood City in the finals to win one of four individual titles for the Raiders.1 / 2
Raider junior Tim Feia works on pining James Lindo of Boyceville in the consolation semifinals at 120 pounds at the Big Rivers Conference/Dunn-St. Croix County Conference Challenge Saturday in River Falls. Feia pinned Lindo in 4:59 and went on to take fifth place.2 / 2

Hudson wrestling coach Chris Hansen couldn't hide his enthusiasm over the Raiders' first place finish at the 12-team Big Rivers Conference/Dunn-St. Croix County Conference Challenge Saturday.

"Truth is, Saturday was probably our finest individual tournament we have had in the nine years I have been the coach," Hansen said. "It was the perfect combination of great wrestling and luck, coupled with some bad luck by our opponents. Seemed everything went our way."

Hudson went into the tournament without a No. 1 seed and came away with four individual champions, remarkable considering the tourney featured five state-ranked teams -- Hudson and Menomonie in Division 1 and Spring Valley/ Elmwood, Glenwood City and Boyceville in Division 3.

Hudson won the team title with a total of 247 points while Spring Valley/ Elmwood was second with 191.5. Menomonie was third with 189 followed by Glenwood City with 155 and Rice Lake with 153.5.

Dima Hawksford and Derek Schindler -- both seeded No. 2 in their respective weight classes -- claimed two of the Raiders' four individual titles while senior Austin Koski knocked off a two-time defending state champion in the 145 pound finals and freshman Sawyer Massie emerged as the 126 pound champion.

Hansen called Koski's pin of top-ranked and previously undefeated Austin Moe of Glenwood City in the 145 pound finals, "the single largest upset we have ever had."

"Moe was 33-0 and a two-time defending state champion," Hansen said. "He is three weeks away from being a very rare three-time state champion and Koski beat him. Austin will never forget that moment."

Massie clinched the 126 pound title with a 6-4 decision over River Falls' junior Zach Radkey-Pechacek in the finals.

"The list of freshman champions at this tournament is very small, so the fact that Sawyer Massie accomplished that is very exciting," Hansen said.

Hawksford and Schindler both posted major decisions against St. Croix Central opponents in the finals of their respective weight classes. Hawksford beat previously undefeated Cody Nyhagen, 12-3, while Schindler defeated once-beaten Kyle Aaby, 13-3.

"Although I certainly expected Hawksford and Schindler to be champions, I didn't expect how easy it would come," Hansen said.

Junior heavyweight Mathias Tobin came up short in his bid for a fifth Raider individual title, losing a thriller in overtime, 6-4, to Jared Baldwin of Menomonie.

Hansen said another big upset on the day came from Raider sophomore Yuri Bronson, who entered the tournament with a record of just 1-0 after wrestling mostly junior varsity this season. Bronson defeated defending conference champion and seventh-ranked Logan Schlough of Menomonie, 6-3, in the 132 pound quarterfinals on his way to a third place finish.

Junior Tim Feia also moved up from junior varsity to pick up 17 team points on his way to a fifth place finish at 120 pounds. Feia, who found out just two days earlier he would be in the lineup, made the most of his opportunity by recording four pins.

"Most people never realized that we had two junior varsity wrestlers in our lineup Saturday," Hansen said. "That is because they did so well. That depth is really what makes Hudson wrestling what it is."

Freshman Matt Koski contributed a third place finish at 113 pounds and sophomore Max Gierke took third at 195 while junior Eliot Motu finished third at 220 to boost the Raiders' team score.

Junior Nic Jonson added a fifth place finish at 138 pounds and sophomore Mitch Fanning took sixth at 106 while junior Cal Johnson was sixth at 152 and senior Sam Green placed eighth at 160.

Next up for the Raiders is the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament this Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. in New Richmond.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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