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Ellsworth Invitational's 50th edition takes place Saturday

Ellsworth's Gabe Frandsen will defend his Ellsworth Invitational title this weekend.

The Ellsworth Invitational high school wrestling meet reaches its golden anniversary this weekend and the question is whether the host Panthers can hold onto the gold.

Ellsworth has won the last 10 Ellsworth Invite titles in a row and 36 in the duration of the tournament. The Panthers, ranked No. 2  in Crossface Magazine’s preseason poll, are favoured to do so again.

The last team besides the Panthers to win the title was Medford back in 2002.

This season however, the tournament field has some stronger teams in it who will challenge the Panthers supremacy.

Participating in this year’s invitational is Sparta, ranked No. 6 in Division 2, Spring Valley/Elmwood, ranked No. 6 in Division 3 and Boyceville, ranked No. 10 in Division 3.

"We want to have the best tourament field possible because it's good for the sport, good for our program and good for the kids to face the best competition around and know where they stand," Ellsworth head coach Chad Steldt said.

Also competing in the meet are Medford, Cadott, St. Croix Falls and Unity along  with local squads Prescott, River Falls and last year’s invitational runner-up Lake City.

Twelve months ago EHS won the individual title by over a 100 points and they return champions Brad Cain, Logan Kemmerer and Gabe Frandsen.

Another returning champion is Prescott’s Troy Urman along with St. Croix Falls’s Dalton Langer, Drew Wheeler  and Joe Radermacher and Lake City’s Shane Siewert.

The round-robin portion of the meet begins at 10 a.m. and will be followed by the placing matches later in the day.

Spring Valley/Elmwood competes in its first invitational meet since 2004 and bring a formidable team which could challenge for the meet title.

"The first meet is always interesting to see where you start out at," SVE head coach Carter Turner said. "But our team this season I believe has the experience and the growth tpo be able to handle big meets like this."

This will also be its first wrestling action of the season. Both Ellsworth and Prescott have Middle Border Conference dual meets Thursday. Ellsworth hosts Somerset while Prescott is at New Richmond.