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College wrestling: Nickman lifts Bluejays

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Minnesota West Bluejay Jared Nickman (top) controls his Northland opponent en route to a decision Friday in Worthington. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe 3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West Community and Technical College freshman Jared Nickman knew that, on paper, Friday night’s wrestling dual for his Bluejays may hinge on his effort. He rose to the challenge.

The Bluejays received four forfeits from Northland along the way and got the win as a team, 28-22.

Competing in one of only two matches that would actually be counted for the night on the scoreboard, Nickman defeated Northland freshman Brett Schurman by 9-3 decision. In the other, Josh Valandra dropped an 11-0 major decision to a spunky and quick Cole Christianson.

“Coming out of the break, you always want to make sure you’re in good shape. I was able to stick with him the entire match and got the win,” Nickman said after the dual. “It’s my first year of wrestling in college and I am starting to get the hang of it.”

Nickman opened the first period and claimed a 4-2 lead on a two-point near fall and a last-second reversal. Nickman closed the match, in the third period, getting a two near falls to go with three points in riding time for the 9-3 decision.

The decision for Nickman is one he wanted as he kicks off the second portion of the mat campaign. He has several quality wins so far and felt like he had added another one after beating Schurman. The match was a tough one, but he never relented.

“That match was good for (regional) seeding purposes and everything like that,” Bluejays wrestling coach Bob Purcell said of Nickman’s win. “Jared had beaten a guy from Rochester and several other people. That was a nice win for Jared, but he still needs to come back and repeat even better. We need him ready at the beginning of the match.”

Valandra trailed Christianson by a takedown after the opening three minutes of their match at heavyweight. Valandra fought to stay off of his back in the closing seconds of the third period, already trailing 7-0, but still couldn’t get any points out of the meeting.

“He had somebody quick with him and the kid had length. We could tell he likes to ride and use his legs,” Purcell said of Valandra’s quick opponent. “He was a quick guy, probably not used to going against a heavyweight. I was really pleased Josh stayed off his back. He could’ve stopped and gotten pinned, but he stayed off his back. It is important in matches like that that you don’t give up and get pinned.”

In his exhibition match against Northland’s Ben Rogers, West sophomore Mike Tanner had a 6-0 hole to dig out of after the first period and was unable to recover. He fell by 13-2 major decision in the bout. In the other exhibition meeting, West’s Ben Goodwin, ranked No. 1 nationally at 174 pounds, bumped up and defeated Craig William at 184 pounds.

“Ben’s been sitting out for about a month with a bad hip, and so we wanted to see where he was at with that. We learned a lesson in the match. At the end of the match when you’re leading, you go for your takedowns.”

The Bluejays host Ridgewater next Wednesday evening before next Saturday’s always-exciting Worthington Open.

“Ridgewater is a full team, and so we’ll probably give up four forfeits to them,” Purcell said. “We’re getting ready for Nationals now. Jared did something here tonight that says he should maybe be ranked in the nation. This kid was tough.”

Minnesota West 28, Northland 22

125: Kareed Williams (W) won by forfeit; 133: Matt Henning (W) won by forfeit; 141: Mike Tanner (W) won by forfeit; 149: Ben Rogers (N) won by forfeit; 157: Jared Nickman dec. Brett Schurman 9-3; 165: Jordan Engen (N) won by forfeit; 174: Ben Goodwin (W) won by forfeit; 184: Craig William (W) won by forfeit; 197: no match; 285: Cole Christianson (N) major dec. Josh Valandra 11-0.