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Prescott's Filkins, Kariesch place second

Unlike last season, when John Kariesch makes his first-ever trip to the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament Thursday, he won't be alone.

Kariesch's Prescott teammate Jake Filkins had to go through his first trip to state last year as a sophomore by himself. Now he can guide guide Kariesch through his first state meet as both wrestlers qualified Saturday at the Division 2 Somerset Sectional by placing second.

"Jake's past bright lights, big stage phase," PHS head coach Jeff Poliak said. "He's wrestled a lot away from high school in big freestyle meets that's going to have him ready for this year's meet and he's going to do well.

Poliak had two concerns regarding Filkins and Kariesch in sectional meet. With Filkins he wondered if his skills hard sharpened to take on the good competition and would have the endurance having been out for much of the season recovering from knee surgery.

With John, Poliak wondered if he would have the confidence to know he was one of the top heavyweights in the Indianhead, and belonged not just in the sectional but at state as well.

Filkins answered Poliak by going through four matches Saturday and responding well to his first loss of the season, a 13-4 major decision at the hands of Neillsville's John Schoen in the finals, to come back for a wrestleback win over Melrose-Mindoro/Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau's Frank Dobbs 9-6.

"Jake still needs improve his footwork but I'll tell you this, with every match he's gotten stronger and he's gotten better. I'm proud of the way, he responded from the loss in the finals with a solid performance in the wrestleback."

Kariesch answered Poliak with an 8-3 decision over Tomahawk's Eric Ravelo in the semifinals. Although he lost to Amery's Brandon Larson in the finals via pinfall at 2:46 (Larson fell on top of Kariesch after short sit-out move didn't work), Kariesch was undaunted in decisioning Neillsville Dan Heiman in the wrestleback 3-2.

"John's had already beaten half the wrestlers in his bracket," Poliak said. "He knew belonged there but when he beat Ravelo, that's when any traces of doubt were wiped away. That's why even though he was pinned in the finals, he came back with one of his best performances to beat a very good wrestler in Heiman."

Prescott's Aaron Gilles was making his sectional debut in a tough 160-pound bracket and had a hard learning experience. He lost by technical fall twice, 16-1 to Osceola's Jeremy Aumundson and 19-4 to Rice Lake's John Schaffer.

"I happy he got at least two matches in so that he had the full experience here instead of being just one and done," Poliak said. "If he works hard in the offseason and gets stronger, he's going to be here again next season and he's going to win some matches."