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SVE prep wrestling: Cards advance with small margin

Spring Valley senior Seth Schlegel wrestles here in the Ellsworth Invitational on December 3, 2016. Schlegel advanced to sectionals on Saturday, Feb. 11. (Herald photo by Jalen Knuteson)

BOYCEVILLE -- He said it would be difficult.

But he didn’t say it would be unprecedented.

Spring Valley/Elmwood prep wrestling head coach Carter Turner knew that the WIAA Division 3 Clear Lake wrestling regional could be won by any one of four teams. When the day ended in a tie between the top two teams, he admitted that he didn’t know what the protocol to break the tie was because he’d never seen it happen before.

After reallocating points for each individual place-winner, the Cardinals scored 204 points edging out second-place Boyceville, which finished with 203 points.

“It’s a tough regional,” Turner said. “That’s kind of rare to have a regional with four teams that close. It rarely happens and we knew going in that it would be really tight.

“I didn’t think it would be that tight though.”

RELATED: Ellsworth wrestling advances team to sectionals and all 14 individuals

For context, Turner said the Cardinals advanced through a regional before winning by eight points. On Saturday, the difference between SVE and the third-place finisher Clear Lake was seven points. Cadott took fourth place with 190 points.

SVE will advance to sectionals on Tuesday, Feb. 14 where it will face St. Croix Falls in a dual at Boyceville High School. If the Cardinals win they will immediately play the winner of Ladysmith vs. Durand.

Turner said it was hard to single out a single key moment that helped the Cardinals advance, but said that Dakota Elsenpeter’s return may have made the difference.

Elsenpeter was injured and was not cleared to play until Thursday. Earlier in the week, Turner was optimistic that Elsenpeter would be able to play, but he wasn’t sure if Elsenpeter would be effective if he got cleared.

He was effective.

“We wouldn’t have won without him,” Turner said. “It was big to have him. I was really proud of him to make it back in time. A lot of wrestlers would have packed it in with two and a half weeks left.”

At the beginning of the season, Turner pointed out SVE getting to this point would rely heavily on whether or not younger wrestlers would be able to come along.

Steadily, they are growing.

“I’m proud of the way the kids have worked this year,” Turner said. “Some people didn’t have really high expectations for the team because we lost some key seniors. It just shows that you really don’t know what can happen. You shouldn’t give up on a season because you lost a lot of seniors.”

Whether it is Kenny Fesenmaier, Santana Schlegel, Carter Merth, Cooper Stevens, or Luke Deppa, Turner said it shows that high school athletes can overcome any lack of talent with hard work.

“I do have to say that we aren’t the most talented team,” Turner said, “but we are a very hard-working team and you can overcome some of that if you can out work them and we have a really hard-working group."

That's not meant as a slight either. Turner said that group of sophomores has come through in big ways for the Cardinals.

"They’re sticking with it and working hard," Turner said. "We’ve seen great improvement and they've beat some really good kids and lost close matches against good kids.

"It really shows how close they’re getting to being really good."

The Cardinals know what they are going to get out of seniors Dylan Bune, Seth Schlegel and Cruze Hurlburt, who all qualified individually for sectionals along with junior Nick Hofacker and Merth, a sophomore.

Individual sectionals will be Saturday, Feb. 18 at Independence High School.

But for now, the focus is on St. Croix Falls.

“Historically the team that comes out of our regional does really well against teams in our (sectional),” Turner said when asked about the team’s chances moving forward. “We have a good chance.

“Bonus points will be a big factor in the match and if the kids can stay off of their backs and get their pins when we need them, we’ll should be alright.”