STATE WRESTLING: Dragons fall in team tournamentST. PAUL — Adrian wrestling coach Gregg Nelson rolled the dice Thursday afternoon.
By: Matt Huss, Worthington Daily Globe
ST. PAUL — Adrian wrestling coach Gregg Nelson rolled the dice Thursday afternoon.
Nelson took a gamble, changing his lineup in order to give his team a better opportunity to beat perennial-powerhouse Saint Michael-Albertville in the first round of the Class AA wrestling tournament.
He received an early return on his investment, but, in the end, the gamble didn’t pay off.
St. Michael-Albertville overcame a 3-0 deficit by winning the ensuing four matches en route to a 31-15 victory over Adrian at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The Dragons will face Scott West (20-2) at 10 a.m. today in the consolation bracket. The winner will wrestle for the consolation championship. The loser will go home.
Adrian’s Ben Mulder, an eighth-grader, opened the match with a victory at 103 pounds. Mulder, who entered with a 27-9 record, turned a 2-2 tie at the end of the first period into a 7-4 victory. It was the first “gamble” by Nelson, who moved Nate Lynn from 103 to 112 to face STMA’s Dustin Kottke (26-13), a senior who qualified for the individual tournament.
Lynn, a freshman who qualified for the individual tournament at 103, trailed 2-0 entering the third period before eventually losing a 5-2 decision to Kottke.
“We rolled the dice,” Nelson said. “Nate’s wrestling 103 in the individual portion, and (Kottke) is in the state tournament, too. So we knew we had to move up; we knew we had to roll the dice.
“At 103, it worked, but then Nate had an uphill battle. He’s a 103-pounder wrestling a 112-pounder, but that’s what we had to do to win the match.”
Dru Strand, a sophomore who is listed at 112 pounds, suffered an 8-2 loss to Carl Salonek (21-16) at 119 pounds. With the victory, the Knights claimed a three-point lead. They never trailed again.
David Thorn pinned Adrian’s Jacob Dorn in 1:10 at 125 pounds to push STMA’s lead to eight points. At 130, Adrian’s Jordan Bullerman earned a takedown with six seconds remaining in the match but still suffered a 6-5 loss to Kyle Salonek (19-21).
Tyler Sieve executed a reversal early in the second period to take a 4-1 lead before fending off a furious rally to earn a 5-4 victory over STMA’s Jake Lillie at 135 pounds.
Luke Tiesler followed with a 9-5 victory over STMA junior Ben Horn (24-16) at 140 pounds, pulling the Dragons to within six points and giving them new life. But STMA senior Jordan Scherber (32-8) followed with a dramatic victory at 145, swinging the momentum in favor of the Knights.
Scherber and Adrian sophomore Brock Bullerman wrestled to a 1-1 draw at the end of three periods, and neither wrestler was able to record a point in the first overtime session. Scherber won the flip and elected to start the second overtime period in the “down” position, needing an escape or a reversal in 30 seconds to win. But Bullerman held on, pulling Scherber back down to the mat two times when it looked like he was on the verge of escaping.
Bullerman then had the same opportunity, but Scherber wouldn’t allow him to get off his knees.
In the fourth overtime, Scherber immediately shot to his feet and broke free to earn an escape and a victory.
“That hurt,” Nelson said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a low-scoring match. (Brock) had 30 seconds to (escape) to win the match, and I’ll take that situation with him most days, but today he didn’t get out.”
STMA won the next two matches and opened up a 21-9 advantage. Senior Jake Horn (28-12) won a 5-1 decision against Neal Mulder at 152 pounds, and junior Jordan Campa (32-7) won a 15-5 major decision against Dustin Polzine at 160.
Stephen Loosbrock recorded an escape late in the third period to earn a 3-2 victory over Shaun Little (24-16) at 171 pounds to keep the Dragons alive, but STMA’s Ryan Kessler (22-16) answered with an 11-4 victory over Trent Slater to give the Knights an insurmountable lead.
Adrian’s Shea Klooster cruised to a 9-3 victory over Nick Edling (7-3) at 215 pounds, and STMA’s Parker Betts (28-12) defeated Adrian heavyweight Aaron Lonneman 5-0 to end the match.
“We had some real close (matches),” Nelson said. “We gave it a good run, but we just fell short.”
The Dragons now are on the brink of falling short of a top-five finish for the first time in their past five trips to the state tournament. They must defeat Scott West today in order to have an opportunity to keep the streak alive.
It won’t be easy.
During Adrian’s match, the Panthers were giving top-seeded Smiley, which is ranked No. 10 in the nation and had all of its starting wrestlers qualify for the individual tournament, all it could handle. Scott West trailed by three points entering the heavyweight match but lost a 6-3 decision.
“Simley was supposed to walk away with it, but Scott West gave them all they wanted,” Nelson said. “We have our work cut out for us this year, but we’ll show up (today). I thought we gave a good effort (Thursday), but things just didn’t go our way. (The Knights) were a better team (Thursday).”
103 B. Mulder (A) dec. 7-4 Sladek, 3-0
112 Kottke (S) dec. 5-2 Lynn, 3-3
119 C. Salonek (S) dec. 8-2 Strand, 3-6
125 Thorn (S) fall 1:10 Dorn, 3-12
130 K. Salonek (S) dec. 6-5 J. Bullerman, 3-15
135 Sieve (A) dec. 5-4 Lillie, 6-15
140 Tiesler (A) dec. 9-5 Horn, 9-15
145 Scherber (S) dec. 2-1 B. Bullerman, 9-18
152 Horn (S) dec. 5-1 N. Mulder, 9-21
160 Campa (S) maj. dec. 15-5 Polzine, 9-25
171 Loosbrock (A) dec. 3-2 Little, 12-25
189 Kessler (S) dec. 11-4 Slater, 12-28
215 Klooster (A) dec. 9-3 Edling, 15-28
Hwt. Betts (S) dec. 5-0 Lonneman, 15-31