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College wrestling: West grapplers notch first team win in five years

GRAND RAPIDS —One wrestler started it and another ended it Wednesday for the Minnesota West wrestling team.

The Bluejays used a complete team effort to rally past Itasca Community College 22-19 in a Thanksgiving Eve road trip north to Grand Rapids.

West won four of its six matches wrestled to seize the dual.

“I am really happy,” Bluejays wrestling coach Bob Purcell exclaimed. “Any time you give up more forfeits than you get and still win, you have to be happy.”

The Bluejays notched their first team dual win in five years with the victory.

“It was nice to do that, but we can still wrestle better,” Purcell said of the feat.

West freshman Matt Henning drew a forfeit at 125 points to start the dual.

Itasca came back to trail by two points with an 11-2 major decision over West’s Kareed Williams at 135 pounds. Williams wrestled up a weight class on the day.

Itasca’s Ed Watts won by 6-2 decision at 141 pounds over Bluejay sophomore Mike Tanner to continue a run by the hometown Vikings.

Itasca led 19-6 at its best point following a pin at 149 pounds and a forfeit from West at 157 pounds.

Jared Nickman earned an 11-2 major decision at 165 pounds to start the Bluejays’ rally. Ben Goodwin then pinned Jacob Ludovissie in 1:44, cutting Itasca’s lead to just three points after the 174-pound bout.

West 285-pounder Josh Valandra pinned Justin Pepper in 4:11, handing the Bluejays the lead and the win.

It was a team effort as the Bluejays picked up a head of steam late to help in the win.

“Josh wrestled a good heavyweight match. Jared performed well and that got Ben fired up,” Purcell said. “Those last three guys kind of fed off of each other.”

MINNESOTA WEST 22, ITASCA 19

125- Matt Henning (MW) won by forfeit, 135-Zach Mathias (I) 11-2 major decision Kareed Williams (MW), 141- Ed Watts (I) 6-2 dec. Mike Tanner (MW), 149-Josh Greetan (I) won by forfeit, 157-Marcus Riggle (I) won by forfeit, 165- Jared Nickman (MW) 11-2 major decision Matt Mason (I), 174- Ben Goodwin (MW) pinned Jacob Ludovissie (I) in 1:44, 184-OPEN, 197-OPEN, 285-Josh Valandra (MW) pinned Justin Pepper (I) in 4:11.

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