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Pierce County wrestlers are some of the favorites for state titles

MADISON - If all goes well there might be several Pierce County wrestlers competing for state individual titles in Divisions 2 and 3 at the WIAA State Individual Tournament which begins Thursday at the Kohl Center.

Six wrestlers come into the tournament as sectional champions and thus get a bye in the first round. All of these wrestlers are ranked in the top five of their respective weight classes going into the meet and have the best chances of making Saturday's state finals.

Ellsworth's Jens Lantz is one of them. However his 103-pound weight class in Division 2 loaded with good wrestlers like Wild Rose-Wautoma's Zach Sirny, Cuba City-Southwestern's J.J. Donar and Lomira's Tyler Scharschmidt. Lantz may face Donar, one of three Donars from Cuba City-Southwestern competing in the state meet, in the semis. If Prescott's Trevor Leyde can get past Prairie du Chein's Taylor Elliot in the first round he'll face Sirny in the quarterfinals.

Ellsworth's Roarke Langer is in the same 125-pound weight class as defending state champion Joseph Her from Two Rivers. They are both ranked 1-2 in the weight class. Others who will have a say on wins the 125 state title are Kewaskum's Brett Scoles, CC-SW's Bob Donar, Luxmeburg-Casco's Zach Skarda and Marshall's Devin Webster. Langer could see either Skarda or Donar in the semis.

Ellsworth's D.J. Yarwood has been a state runner-up and a third place finisher and now wants the gold medal in his senior season. Standing in his way potentially at 140 pounds will be Sheboygan Falls' Lucas Lambrecht, River Valley's Seth Leigel and Clintonville's Exavier Dimick. Yarwood is making his fourth appearance in the state meet.

EHS' Parker Hines and Zac Reister are right near the top of their respective weight classes, 189 and 215. Hines' main challenge will be from Kewauskum's Bo Seibel, 37-1. Hines has already beaten two of the stronger wrestlers in the weight class in Melrose-Mindoro/Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau's Jorey Dobbs and Neillsville's Dan Schoen, who got his first defeat of the season from Hines in the sectional final. Reister is in a weight class with no clear favorite since no one has fewer than four losses, other than Reister and Omro's Zack Baehman.

Spring Valley-Elmwood's Brady Webb is a strong favorite to win his weight class. He has the best record in the 112-pound, Division 3 field and he'll also avoid defending champions Evan Miller of De Soto who has moved up to 119 pounds. His toughest competition could come from Peshtigo's Josh Bayer, a senior with a 40-4 record or freshman Kyle Mezera from Lancaster.

Three Pierce County wrestlers will compete Thursday in the Division 2 prelims. Leyde will wrestle Taylor Elliot, Ellsworth's Levi Kuesel, a state runner-up last season, will wrestle Luxemburg-Casco junior Matt Zellner at 152 and EHS' Tanner Eggenberger takes on Clinton's Dane Brandl at 160. If Kuesel wins he would face Marshall's Thurston Schuster, who has 48 wins on the season. If Eggenberger wins he would take on Luxemburg-Casco's Zeke Peters who is one of the top wrestlers in a tough 160-pound field.

Quarterfinals, Consolation Semifinals and Semifinals will take place Friday. Division 2 and 3 wrestlers who lose Thursday are eliminated from the tournament. The prelims begin at 7:15 p.m.