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Prep report: Smith makes it two Wisconsin wrestling titles

Feb. 24—Already holding a significant wrestling legacy at Northwestern High School, Ian Smith just added to it on Saturday night, Feb. 23, claiming a second Division 2 state individual championship at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Smith matched up against the same opponent as he did in 2023, Two Rivers' Chase Matthias, though this time both competed up a weight class at 215 pounds.

As it was in his semifinal on Friday night, both wrestlers claimed escape points, but Smith made a decisive move late in the third period, grabbing Matthias' ankle and scoring a two-point takedown with 75 seconds remaining.

Matthias added another escape point 17 seconds later, but both wrestlers completed the remaining time on their feet with no significant incident, making Smith a two-time state champion by a 3-2 score.

It was oddly reminiscent of their 2023 meeting, in which Smith scored a takedown with just 11 seconds to go and won 3-2.

Smith, who was out of action for several months from both football and wrestling after undergoing shoulder surgery, is the only Tigers wrestler to hold multiple championships. He is committed to Northern Illinois University.

The Duluth boys swim team will bring a deep list of entries and a fifth consecutive section championship trophy to next weekend's state meet after a dominant performance in Section 7AA competition on Saturday in Coon Rapids.

Duluth will be sending someone to state in every event, including all three relays. In Class AA the top two finishers in each swimming event and top four divers advance to state.

Sophomore Joey Zelen was named swimmer of the year after a dominant performance in both sprints. He took the 50-yard freestyle by nearly a full second in 21.27, then won the 100 free in 47.16, a margin of nearly a second and a half ahead of teammate Elliot Yung.

Duluth won 10 events, and both senior Travis Elling and sophomore Lucas Warren were double winners as well. Elling took the 200 free in 1:46.98, then prevailed in the 500 free in 4:52.88. Warren dominated the 200 individual medley by more than seven seconds in 1:55 only after outtouching teammate Landon West by six-tenths of a second in the 100 butterfly.

Duluth was well ahead in the final point count, with 502 to second-place Centennial's 339.

The Grand Rapids Thunderhawks had a big day, scoring 600 team points to win their Class A section meet in Hibbing.

Rapids' Joe Loney, a junior, outlasted the field in the freestyle distance races, winning the 200 free in 1:52.20, then taking the 500 free in 1:52.20.

Mesabi East's Cole Layman won the 100 butterfly in 54.91 and the 200 IM in 2:03.78 and participated in two winning relays, while Gunnar George of Rock Ridge won both freestyle sprints and was on a winning relay for the Wolverines.

Ethan Starstead had a huge game for the Hunters on the road, scoring 31 points. Denfeld, which led Princeton 38-30 at halftime, got 14 points from Dashawn Moore and 10 apiece from MarNaries Ferguson and Finnley Powell.

Carson Brown of the Tigers became a 1,000-point scorer in a home win on Saturday in Iron.

He finished with 10 points and nine assists, while Isaac Asuma led the Tigers with 22 points, nine assists and nine boards. Noah Sundquist contributed 21 points and eight rebounds.

Jordan Zubich scored 31 points but the Rangers went into the postseason with a defeat after being slightly outscored in both halves by Mayer Lutheran on Saturday in Mountain Iron.

MI-B (23-3) was No. 2 in the most recent statewide Class A rankings, while Mayer was 18th.

The Mirage finished their season with a win and a consolation championship in the Class A bracket on Saturday morning.

Proctor/Hermantown scored three times in the first period, from Jane Eckstrom, Anika Burke and Izy Fairchild, to take control. Reagan Zywicki added to the advantage at 4:44 of the second.

Willmar pushed back with two goals in the second period, but Ella Rothe finished off the result 2:39 into the third period.

The Mirage had a 44-16 advantage in shots on goal. Eckstrom added two assists to her goal and both Burke and Fairchild also had multi-point games.

Neelah McLeod made 14 saves for Proctor/Hermantown, which finishes its season 20-9-2.