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County teams look to defend team sectional titles

Ellsworth and Spring Valley/Elmwood will both be defending team sectional titles this evening.

Ellsworth will be in home gym for the WIAA Division 2 team sectional while Spring Valley/Elmwood will be Glenwood City for the Division 3 team sectional. Both meets begin at 6 p.m. with the finals starting at least a half-hour after the semifinal dual meets.

The Panthers first match will be against Neillsville/Loyal/Greenwood. The other semifinal pits Amery vs. Rice Lake.

Spring Valley/Elmwood take on La Crosse Aquinas in the semifinals while on the other mat Clear Lake will take on Ladysmith.

After years of traveling for such meets, EHS is happy to be at home with its big fan base backing them up against some formidable opponents.

"It's nice that you don't have to be on a bus for a few hours and your fans can get to the meet since it's at home," Ellsworth head coach Chad Steldt said. "Obviously as an athlete you're more comfortable being in your own gym. But it isn't always keeping focused and that what we'll have to maintain to get ready for some formidable opponents."

Both N/G/L/ and Amery came close to beating Ellsworth the last time they wrestled, the Warriors in last year's team sectional final and Amery in a regular season dual meet. But Steldt believes the Panthers will be up to the challenge in the rematches, just as they were in the final round of last weekend's regional where they pust some serious distance between themselves and St. Croix Central after SCC had closed within seven points after the semis.

"Focusing was hard at regionals because a lot of our kids were sitting around all afternoon," Steldt said. "So I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff and alums who helped the kids get ready for the finals and they came through. With these upcoming duals I think our kids will be able to feed off of momentum from each match. We're down to the weights we need to be at and we'll have a couple of wrestlers we didn't have due to injury. But there will still be close matches. Neillsville has some outstanding individual wrestlers and the Amery dual will be close once again. There's not a lot of maneuvering each team can do so we need to be ready to wrestle and wrestle our best to win."

SVE head coach Carter Turners feels the Redbirds are in the same situation, facing good teams which will make defending the title difficult even though Spring Valley/Elmwood beat Clear Lake by a comfortable margin during the regular season.

"Aquinas has kids with records similar to ours and Clear Lake has moved some kids down a weight class, so the match-ups will be different," Turner said. "Pins are what helped us beat Clear Lake and bonus points are going to be a key factor in the outcome of both matches if we make it that far."

The team state tournament is March 2 in Madison at University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse. Ellsworth is going for its eighth straight title while SVE is out for its second straight sectional crown.

WIAA Team Sectional Pairings - Feb. 12

Division 1

Wausau West Sectional - Menomonie vs Wausau West

Bay Port Sectional - Bay Port vs Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln

Sauk Prairie Sectional - Sauk Prairie vs Holmen

Menasha Sectional - Kaukauna vs Oshkosh West

Milton Sectional - Lake Geneva Badger vs Mount Horeb/Barneveld

Brookfield Central Sectional - West Allis Central vs Mukwonago

Hartland Arrowhead Sectional - Menomonee Falls vs Wauwatosa

Racine William Horlick - Burlington vs South Milwaukee

Division 2

Ellsworth Sectional - Amery vs Rice Lake, Neillsville/Loyal/Greenwood vs Ellsworth

Oconto Falls Sectional - Oconto Falls vs Wittenberg/Birnamwood, Little Chute vs. Luxemburg-Casco

Lodi Sectional - Mauston vs Lodi, Dodgeville vs Brodhead/Juda

Pewaukee Sectional - Lomira vs Chilton/Hilbert, East Troy vs Kewauskum

Division 3

Glenwood City Sectional - Clear Lake vs Ladysmith, Spring Valley/Elmwood vs La Crosse Aquinas

Edgar Sectional - Crandon vs Edgar, Shiocton vs Coleman

Brookwood Sectional - Cashton vs Weston/Ithaca, Lancaster vs Cambridge

Markesan Sectional - Laconia vs Random Lake, Johnson Creek vs Kenosha Christian Life