LA CROSSE - For only the fifth time in the 29-year existence of the Bi-State wrestling tournament, the Lancaster Flying Arrows brought home a team title.
Coach Brad Sturmer’s squad finished the two-day tournament last Friday night with 181.5 team points, winning the division 3 team title over 19 other schools competing for the prize.
The Flying Arrows, who were fourth in the team standings after the first session, finished 12.5 points ahead of second-place Cashton.
Lancaster has won division 2 team titles at the Bi-State Classic four times (1990, 1991, 2000, 2005), and has finished second three times (1989, 1993, 1998).
This year’s success for Lancaster was due mostly to three individuals, all of whom advanced to the championship round, and wound up finishing second in their respective weight class.
Freshman Cole Martin finished the tournament with 43 total points and the 106-pound runner-up title, while sophomore Kyle Mezera scored 41 team points with his second-place finish at 120 pounds.
Also placing second, and scoring 38 team points, was 152-pound sophomore Ethan Soderstrom, who won the 145-pound individual title last season.
Together, the three scored 122 of their team’s 181.5 points, while 138-pound sophomore Trenton Cornell added 27 points with his fifth-place finish, and 132-pound sophomore Dan Rice contributed 13.5 points for his 11th-place finish.
For Martin and Mezera, each of them suffered their first loss of the season at the Bi-State Classic, both owning records of 19-1. Soderstrom now has two losses on the season, and is 12-2 so far this year.
For Martin, his first four matches ended in pins, two coming in the first period, and the other two early in the second.
His quarterfinal match came against Taylor Elliott (20-2) of Prairie du Chien, who was the state’s top ranked division 2 wrestler in his weight class. Martin pinned him in a time of 2:44.
In his semifinal match, Martin took the mat against Joey Majerus of Zumbrota-Mezeppa of Minnesota, and came away with a 12-2 major decision, setting up a championship match against Ben Thornton (20-0), the state’s top ranked wrestler in division 1.
After controlling the first two periods, Thornton seemingly wore down in the third, where Martin had him on his back, but was ruled out of bounds, missing out on at least five points.
Martin ended up losing the match by a score of 8-5, but finishing second as a freshman is no small accomplishment.
“With Cole, he just keeps making statement after statement,” said coach Sturmer. “He’s the real deal. He’s beat some very quality kids this year.”
For Mezera at 120 pounds, he followed up a first-round bye with two pins, a major decision and a 6-4 win over Dustin Clements (19-3) of Kickapoo-La Farge in the semifinals.
In his championship match, Mezera lost a 6-4 decision to Spencer Davies (16-1) of Mauston, whose only loss this season came against Mezera at the Tomah Scramble. There, the Lancaster sophomore won a 5-4 decision.
In their match last Friday night, the two were tied at 4-4 late in the third period when Mezera gave up a reversal with 10 seconds on the clock.
Soderstrom, started the tournament off with a 4-2 win in his first match, then managed a pin, two major decisions and a 7-2 win in his semifinal match over Jacob Kruse (21-4) of Mount Horeb-Barneveld.
In his championship match, Soderstrom suffered a 5-3 overtime loss to Kolya Hawkstord (17-1) of Hudson.
Though it wasn’t a championship match, the rematch of Trenton Cornell (16-5) and Jarod Donar (19-0) in a 138-pound semifinal match ended with Cornell losing, 15-8.
The Lancaster sophomore actually led 6-5 in the third period, and was on top of Donar, when the Cuba City senior scored two points on a reversal then two more questionable back points before Cornell scored on a reversal.
Now trailing 9-8, Cornell was forced to give up an intentional escape and hope for a takedown, but Donar took advantage with a five-point fall late in the match to make it a 15-8 final.
“T.J. has to feel good about taking him toe-to-toe like that because no one else has,” said coach Sturmer.
The two first met earlier this year in Lancaster, where Donar escaped with a 4-2 win in overtime.
Of Donar’s 19 wins this season, 17 were pins, Cornell being the only opponent to last three periods, and he’s now done it twice.
This Saturday, the Flying Arrows will host the 46th Annual Lancaster Wrestling Invitational, with first-round action slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. and the finals set to take place around 3 p.m.
Teams competing at the Lancaster Invite will be Belmont-Platteville, Boscobel, Cuba City-Southwestern, Dubuque Senior, Dubuque Wahlert, Fennimore, Madison West, Richland Center, Riverdale, River Ridge-Cassville, Sparta and Viroqua.