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Bluejays head into Open with easy victory

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WORTHINGTON -- Winning the final six matches of Friday night's dual meet with Itasca Community College, the Minnesota West wrestling team scored a 41-9 victory to head into today's Worthington Open with a lot of confidence.

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The victory also puts the Bluejays in sole possession of second place in the Minnesota Community College Conference with a 3-1 league record (6-5-1 overall).

"This was a great win for our team tonight," Bluejays head coach Bob Purcell said following the dual. "The guys really came out ready to wrestle, and I'm pretty proud of them for their efforts tonight."

Steve Wehner got things rolling for the Bluejays in the 125-pound match as he dominated John Gray, picking up a 16-0 technical fall to give West a quick 5-0 lead.

"Steve came out and gave us a great start," Purcell said. "His victory set the tone for the rest of the guys."

West's lead was increased to 11-0 when Seth Schlee won via forfeit at 133 pounds.

Itasca then won the next two matches -- its only two victories of the night -- to pull within two points at 11-9.

The Vikings' John Koistinen (141) pinned Josh Butrous in 4:09 to make it 11-6, while Cody Johnvin (149) registered a 10-4 victory over Wade Granger.

But it was all Bluejays from that point on as Casey Kringen turned things around with a 13-6 decision over Steve Merth in the 157-pound competition to make it 14-9.

"Casey really swung things back in our favor with his victory," Purcell said. "They had won the previous two matches to pull within two points, but we didn't lose a match after that."

Ryan Orel followed with a pinfall victory in 1:54, as he topped Will Gwynne in the 165-pound event to extend West's advantage to 20-9.

Tony Sauer made it 26-9, as he pinned Sam Harlan in 2:08 at 174 pounds, while Jesse Evans won 7-4 over John Aultman at 184 pounds to put West up 29-9.

Dominick Oliver and Mark Mitchell then put the capper on the 41-9 victory with a pair of six-point wins. Oliver won his 197-pound match with Brady Bjornson by pinfall in 1:48 to produce a 35-9 Bluejay bulge, while Mitchell claimed the 285-pound victory by forfeit.

"Ryan, Tony, Jesse and Dominick all wrestled up a weight class tonight," Purcell said. "They each really took it their opponents and earned wins for us."

The Bluejays are hoping the victory will serve as a positive springboard heading into today's Worthington Open.

"This definitely gets us ready and puts us in the right mood for it," Purcell said in reference to the Open. "We're looking forward to the challenges, and we'll compete our best out there."

The action begins at 9 a.m. today.

Minnesota West 41, Itasca 9

125 Wehner (MW) t.f. Gray 16-0 5-0

133 Schlee (MW) forfeit 11-0

141 Koistinen (I) fall Butrous 4:09 11-6

149 Johnvin (I) dec. Granger 10-4 11-9

157 Kringen (MW) dec. Merth 13-6 14-9

165 Orel (MW) fall Gwynne 1:54 20-9

174 Sauer (MW) fall Harlan 2:08 26-9

184 Evans (MW) dec. Aultman 7-4 29-9

197 Oliver (MW) fall Bjornson 1:48 35-9

285 Mitchell (MW) forfeit 41-9

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