Friday, December 28 two heavyweights in 6A wrestling locked horns in a battle for supremacy of the section. Both the Staples-Motley Cardinals and West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville Knights have strong teams, they are each ranked in the top ten in class A wrestling. Although the Knights have edged out the Cardinals in all of the last four head to head meetings a strong Staples-Motley team recently edged past the Knights at the Big Bear tournament grasping third place by a point. The two teams entered the day undefeated in dual action but when the last hand was raised the Knights had left the Cardinals behind by a convincing score of 42-26, claiming first place in the section by doing so.
The dual began with a first period pin for the Knights by Jordan Lohse. WCAABE would take a nine to zero lead following 113 lbs. as Kaleb Getz added a decision. S-M got on the board at 120 lbs. following a decision by Spencer Miller. A surprise shift in the Cardinal lineup left Jake Nohre with a forfeit putting the Knights up by a score of 15-3. Staples-Motley would close the gap as they put up major decisions earning four points apiece at 132 and 138 lbs. At 145 lbs. the Cardinals made it interesting earning an overtime decision, this set the score at 15-14 midway through the dual. When it seemed the home team was surging this was as close as they would come to taking control as the Knights went on a three match pinning spree. Keaton Long, Tyler Onstad and Levi Larkin all put their opponents shoulders to the mat stretching the WCAABE score to a 19 point lead. At 182 lbs. S-M won by fall but the effort was returned at 195 lbs. by Wyatt Olson. Olson's third period fall would stretch the score to 39 points for the Knights putting the contest out of reach for the Cardinals. Mason Nibbe added the last of the points for WCAABE as he put his opponent away by way of decision at 220 lbs. The Cardinals won the heavyweight match by fall.
Wrestling duals are won two ways, by scoring bonus points when able to and by limiting the other teams bonus points. The Knights wrestled a fantastic dual gathering up five falls and a forfeit for 18 bonus points. They limited the Cardinals success to just 10 bonus points. With both teams winning a pair of decisions the Knights pinning ability was the difference as the dual victories were close with an 8-6 margin. Coach Brandon Gruchow commented following the dual about his teams pinning ability, “We knew going into the match that pins were going to be a big factor in determining the outcome of the dual. We stressed the importance of making sure that we took advantage of any bonus points that we could. Pins win duals and today our Knights were ready to go get them.”
Coach Gruchow went on to say, “Overall, a good effort was put out by the team. Their mental toughness and team spirit were showed when they fought through the adversity of the dual. I was proud of them and their effort. Our JV wrestlers also got after it. The JV went 9/12 in their matches.”
Speaking with several of the wrestlers after the dual the emotions were on display. Catching up with a very happy and proud senior and tri-captain, Tyler Onstad described the morning as, “We came out strong. A couple of the matches didn't go the way we wanted but being the team we are we stepped it up and rose to the occasion, we did what had to be done. All in all we wrestled a great match.”
The 5-0 Knights will travel next Thursday to challenge the always dangerous 9-2 New York Mills Eagles. Action will begin at 6 pm.