Prairie Wrestling ties program record with seven individual state qualifiers

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Bryce Lenzendorf takes down CC/B/SW’s Landon Busch at 157 pounds. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Irelynd Cejka hangs on to defeat N/A/PE’s Paige Howard. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Mason Baumgarner controls Nekoosa/Assumption/Port Edwards’ Gavin Tritz at the top of the photo, while Mason Hird goes to take down Evansville’s Blake Frey during their consolation semifinal round. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

Drew Hird works on Sugar River’s Brennan Keyes. (Derick Kelly/Courier Press)

By Derick Kelly


After having qualified seven wrestlers each of the last three individual state wresting tournaments, the Prairie du Chien Blackhawks were aiming to at least match (if not break) the program’s single season record of seven state qualifiers at last Saturday’s Division 2 Sectional Meet at Wisconsin Dells High School. With 12 sectional wrestlers, the Hawks had as good of a shot of achieving that goal.

The Hawks very nearly achieved that goal as they qualified seven of those twelve wrestlers for the state tournament  for a fourth consecutive season and had two more wrestlers each finish one win shy of qualifying, including junior Irelynd Cejka on the girls side as she earned sectional runner-up honors for a second consecutive season. 

With the girls state tournament still only featuring one division, only the sectional champion qualifies from each weight class with Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro’s Macki Kaz defeating Cejka falling just short in the 138 pound championship match.

Qualifying on the boys side for Prairie du Chien were senior Drake Ingham (first place at 132 pounds), senior Mason Baumgartner (third place at 138 pounds), senior Drew Hird (third place at 144 pounds), junior Bryce Lenzendorf (second place at 157 pounds), senior Jeremiah Avery (second place at 165 pounds), junior Blake Thiry (first place at 215 pounds), and sophomore Jack Simmons (second place at 285 pounds). Sophomore Mason Hird finished in fourth place at 126 pounds, just missing his first trip to the individual state tournament.

The WIAA and WWCA changed the seeding process for the individual state tournament within the last few years and sectional champions in D2 and D3 no longer automatically receive a top four seed and a first-round bye. Because of this, neither champion for Prairie du Chien (Ingham or Thiry) received a top four seed despite resumes that suggest top four seed. The Hawks were not completely shutout as Avery was the only Prairie Wrestler to receive a top four seed and a bye to the quarterfinal round on Friday morning.

The preliminary round schedule for Thursday night for the other six Prairie Wrestlers is as follows - 132 pounds - sixth seed Drake Ingham (Sr., 48-7) vs. eleventh seed Landen Ramsey, Plymouth (So., 34-12),  138 pounds - tenth seed Mason Baumgartner (Sr., 29-16) vs. seventh seed Breckin Burzynski, Stanley-Boyd (Sr., 44-4), 144 pounds - tenth seed Drew Hird (Sr., 41-14) vs. seventh seed Colin Meiselwitz, Elkhart Lake-Glenbeluah/Howards Grove (Sr., 29-8), 157 pounds - seventh seed Bryce Lenzendorf (Jr., 41-14) vs. tenth seed Carter Ries, Big Foot/Williams Bay (So., 35-7), 165 pounds - fourth seed Jeremiah Avery (Sr., 44-6) vs. the winner of preliminary match between twelfth seed Drake Peterson, St. Croix Falls (Fr., 26-11) and fifth seed Nic Deheck, Kewaskum (Sr., 37-9), 215 pounds - fifth seed Blake Thiry (Jr., 49-1) vs. twelfth seed Bradley Gottwald, Hayward/Northwood (Sr., 42-13), and 285 pounds - tenth seed Jack Simmons (So., 40-12) vs. seventh seed Jae`Shaun Thomas, Waukesha Catholic Memorial (Sr., 27-15).

There is no wrestleback in D2 or D3 at the state tournament for those who lose in the preliminary round on Thursday night. Those who lose in that round will see their individual seasons come to a close.

Prairie du Chien’s seven qualifiers are the third most in D2 this year, behind only Luxemburg-Casco (nine) and Kewaskum (eight) and the ninth most overall across all three divisions.

Here is how far the Prairie du Chien Wrestling program has grown in recent years. The 28 individual state tournament qualifiers the Hawks have had over the last four seasons match how many total state qualifiers the program had from 1970 to 2016. 

The Hawks have also had 24 different wrestlers qualify for the state tournament multiple times, including six of this years qualifiers (Thiry three times, Avery, Baumgartner, Hird, Ingham, and Lenzendorf twice each). 

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