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Panthers survive tough semi, win sectional

AMERY -- Team wrestling is obviously about the team.

But one Ellsworth High School wrestler had a very special night that led the Panthers to their third straight WIAA Division 2 sectional title.

Ellsworth team co-captain Chace Kinneman scored a crucial pin at 119 pounds in the Panthers' close 35-32 semifinal win over Neillsville and he gave Barron's Kaleb Stephens his first loss of the season in the finals where the Panthers also won 45-13

"It all came from the heart today," Kinneman said. "I knew what I had to do to help the team and I knew what I had to do to beat (Stephens). It was all effort and desire tonight."

The No. 3 ranked Panthers desperately needed Kinneman's pinfall over Neillsville's Jamie Stenulson. They had trailed the Warriors 26-5 after the 285-pound match and we're looking for points by any means to get back in the match.

With time ticking away in the third period, Kinneman surged on a burst of energy that pinned Stenulson with just seven seconds to go. The crucial two-point bonus brought Ellsworth within six at 26-20 and made them well set-up for a meet-winning rally.

Against Stephens, Kinneman scored a takedown in the second period to go ahead 3-0 and started the third period with a two-point nearfall while on top. He went on to win 5-2 and put his team in front 31-3. Whatever chance the Golden Bears had of winning the finals was over.

"Chace wrestled like a team captain should," Ellsworth head coach Jack Radabaugh said. "He set the best possible example this evening by scoring points for the team when it needed them and winning against someone he hasn't beaten before."

Other big wins for the Panthers against Neillsville were pins by Sam Huppert at 103 and Joe Kornmann at 130. Winning by technical fall were Jordan Zimmer at 152 and team co-captain Hayden Hauschildt at 135. Reuben Huppert won by major decision at 140.

"I liked the way our team fought for points tonight," Radabaugh said. "They really had a good understanding of each match situation and how it related to team points."

Kormann is still on a rise from a fifth place finish at the MBC meet to placing third at regional and helping the Purple go back to team state with his big 3:14 second pin of Kyle Kunhart.

"I'm working really hard now and putting a lot into practice and its made me a better wrestler," Kornmann said. "I knew had to score big and I was up by a quite a bit so looked for any opportunity I could get to pin him and I did."

Ellsworth's winners in the Barron dual meet were Kinneman, Shawn Helmueller at 160 by pin, Jordon Borst at 171 by major decision, Corey Deiss at 189, Alex Hoyer at 215, Taylor Boettcher by fall at 130, Hauschildt at 135 and Tanner Eggenberger at 145. Sam Huppert at 103 and Andrew Schneider-Adams at 215 both received forfeits.