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Panthers topple Bluejays, 28-12

WORTHINGTON -- With two pins in the first four matches, the Ellsworth Community Collegegrapplers built a 9-0 lead and never looked back in a 28-12 victory over Minnesota West Wednesday night.

"We went against a Division I program that usually finishes in the top 10 of the Division I nationals, and we were in that match," Minnesota West head coach Bob Purcell said. "We had a couple of matches where we got pinned, and there could have been a different story at the end."

Even with injuries forcing Ellsworth head coach Nate Skaar to move some wrestlers up a weight, Skaar was pleased with his team's performance.

"I thought the kids wrestled pretty good," Skaar said. "Minnesota West wrestled pretty tough. They are always going to be a team that's going to come out and wrestle pretty hard."

For the Bluejays, the 184 pound match provided the most excitement.

West's Jesse Evans trailed Ellsworth's Brian Loftus 2-0 at the end of the first period, but took a 3-2 lead on a last-second takedown in the second period.

"I went out there kind of feeling like crap," Evans said, "but as the match went on, I kept getting more and more energy."

Trailing by a point in the final seconds Evans scored on an escape, and got a quick takedown, securing a 7-5 victory.

"I could feel him leaning on me, so I went at him hard, and he was falling off," Evans said. "Then when I turned around, I snapped him down and spun around real quick."

Listed at 174, Evans took on the challenge of wrestling at 184 pounds.

"Jesse is the kind of kid that if you give him a challenge, he's going to take it and do the best that he can," Purcell said. "We've been doing that for two years with him, and he knows what to do."

Right before Evans took the mat, West's Dominick Oliver squeaked out a victory over Joe Perry.

After a scoreless first period, Oliver held a slim 4-3 lead heading into the third period. With a two-point takedown in the closing moments, Oliver secured an 8-5 decision.

"Dominick Oliver came through with a good win," Purcell said. "He started us out on our comeback."

Even after Oliver earned three points for the Bluejays, Ellsworth had a 23-9 lead.

With Evans' victory, West climbed back into the dual, but still trailed 22-12.

Needing a pin, West's Bryant Schroeder wrestled Tyler Bowling to a scoreless first period. However, Bowling scored a point on an escape in the second and had a 1-0 lead.

Schroeder could not find the chances to secure a pin, as Bowling went on for a 5-2 victory.

"Schroeder knew he needed a pin, and he went out there looking for a pin," Purcell said. "We told him to wear the kid out to the third period, and it was a kid that probably wouldn't get pinned normally. He did the best he could, and he had to take chances."

Ellsworth closed out its team victory with a 6-0 decision in the heavyweights. Derek Kaul used a 3-point near fall in the second period en route to the decision over Will Lutmer.

"Will Lutmer had a great effort," Purcell said. "He got thrown to his back, and not many heavyweights get off their back once they get thrown down. It was a great effort to get off his back and keep fighting tonight."

However, with a pin at 125 pounds, the Bluejays started in a hole.

Ellsworth's Nate Williams built a 4-1 lead at the end of the first period over Minnesota West's Tyler Biffer at 125 pounds. Williams increased his lead to 8-2 in the second period, before pinning Biffer 23 seconds into the third period.

West's Dusty Colon tried to earn the points back at 133 pounds, and even had a 4-3 lead early in the second period. However, Ellsworth's Justin Dixon was too much in a 7-4 victory.

Trailing 9-0 after two matches, Minnesota West's Seth Schlee got the Bluejays on the board.

With a 2-2 tie after the first period, Schlee built a 5-2 lead over Kyle Simon. With just 18 seconds left in the second period, Schlee made his move and pinned Simon.

"He got tired after about a minute and a half," Schlee said. "I caught him and got him on his back."

Right away, Schlee thought he was going to have a tough match.

"When we started, he seemed pretty strong," Schlee said. "I figured I could wear him out and maybe get (a pin). We knew we needed bonus points tonight."

Ellsworth's Isiah Harris returned the favor at 149 pounds. Leading 13-4 after two periods, Harris pinned Justin Seitz in the final minute of the match, as Ellsworth built a 15-6 lead after four matches.

Kurt Simon, a national qualifier last year for Ellsworth, earned a 14-5 victory over Wade Granger at 157 pounds, while Trevor Gehringer took an 8-1 victory over West's Tom Jacobson.

"Tom Jacobson fought for the whole seven minutes," Purcell said. "He gave up a four-pointer, but he was still in there."

The Bluejays will travel to Moorhead Saturday for the Dragon Open, before traveling to Willmar face Ridgewater on Wednesday.

"We're going to look at what we did, take the positives and go forward," Purcell said. "Ridgewater is always tough. Knowing that we can compete with Ellsworth, we know we can compete with Ridgewater."