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College wrestling: Minnesota West dual comes down to one match

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Minnesota West Bluejay Ben Goodwin (top) pins his Ridgewater opponent during Wednesday night college wrestling in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON — The Bluejays were on the brink of victory, heading into the final match of their wrestling dual Wednesday at Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Center for Health and Wellness against Ridgewater College, but the Warriors prevailed.

West won one of its four matches wrestled on the night and fell 23-21 to Ridgewater. Jared Nickman — wrestling at 165 pounds for the Jays against Matt Meyer — won his bout in an 8-4 decision for the team’s only head-to-head victory of the evening.

“We knew the dual would be close. I talked to (our wrestlers) beforehand and told them we needed to keep the match close and, when we win, we need to get extra points,” Minnesota West wrestling coach Bob Purcell said. “That was my challenge to them. We didn’t step up to do that.”

West’s Matt Henning opened the dual, receiving a forfeit. The Jays retained their lead —after a 17-2 technical fall taken by Kareed Williams —when Mike Tanner received forfeit at 141.

Nickman gave his team a 15-11 advantage by winning his match against a bigger opponent at 165. While it was a win for Nickman, there are things to learn from. He led 5-1, going into the third frame of the meeting, but gave up valuable points late in the match that could have meant a few more team points if only the margin of victory would have been wider.

“Jared got a win, which was nice but, in all actuality, he was kind of tight and was looking for a pin rather than getting a major (decision),” Purcell said. “But (a major) would have still only brought us within one point (in the dual).”

At 197 pounds and wrestling his first match of the season, Zelius Morrow lost by fall in 59 seconds. While Morrow surrendered a takedown and fall early in his match, Purcell was optimistic of what Morrow could accomplish in the future.

“He’s totally raw, but he is as athletic as all-can-be,” Purcell said. “It was nice to see him out there. He was wrestling hard but was a little wild and shaky for his first match. He’ll get better. I know he’ll get better because he’s athletic.”

Valandra, engaged in a scoreless tussle at 285 pounds, got caught off balance late in the second period and was taken down. Zane Peterson pinned him at 4:17.

The deciding factor is never the complete story, Purcell insinuated after the dual. If any one of his wrestlers would have gained another win for the team, the final result would have been different.

“That was a tough kid and he’s ranked 10th in the nation,” Purcell said of Valandra’s opponent. “When you get someone on your back and you’re that good, you’re not going to let them off. They stepped up and did what they needed to do. We didn’t. That’s kind of disappointing. One of our other three had to step up, and it didn’t happen.”

The Bluejays will bring in a host of wrestlers Saturday for the 24th annual Worthington Open at the college and attached Worthington YMCA. It will be a full day of quality wrestling that Purcell’s program always looks forward to.

“We’re looking forward to the exciting day of wrestling. We’ll see what we have,” Purcell said. “We may lose some teams due to the weather up north, but I hope we don’t.”

In exhibition matches Wednesday night, Ridgewater’s Frank Wilczek defeated Tanner by fall and Ben Goodwin pinned Joel Kech in 37 seconds.

Ridgewater 23, Minnesota West 21

125: Henning (W) won by forfeit; 133: Sutlief (R) tech. fall Williams; 141: Tanner (W) won by forfeit; 149: Wieman (R) won by forfeit; 157: double forfeit; 165: Nickman (W) dec. Matt Meyer 8-4; 174: double forfeit; 184: Goodwin (W) won by forfeit; 197: Kichler (R) pin Morrow :59; 285: Petersen (R) pin Valandra 4:17.