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College wrestling: Tough, determined effort aids Goodwin at Worthington Open

WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College sophomore Ben Goodwin plowed through a perfect day at Saturday's 24th annual Worthington Open wrestling tournament. He won three matches and gold for his weight bracket, made up of a m...

Ben Goodwin
CALEB NELSON/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West sophomore Ben Goodwin (top) works from his feet against an opponent in Saturday's Worthington Open college wrestling tournament.

WORTHINGTON - Minnesota West Community and Technical College sophomore Ben Goodwin plowed through a perfect day at Saturday’s 24th annual Worthington Open wrestling tournament. He won three matches and gold for his weight bracket, made up of a mix of 174-pound and 184-pound wrestlers.

Despite wickedly cold, blowing slow looming outside the Center for Health and Wellness and Worthington YMCA the show indeed went on. A few schools - totaling many expected participants - bowed out due to travel concerns. Either way, it was a fun event for all 58 participants involved, their coaches and their wrestling programs.

“It was an exciting day, especially since we have our new facility and our new gym,” Goodwin said. “There were a few schools that got held back but all in all it was a good day. My family came up from Lincoln (Nebr.). It was exciting.”

With Goodwin winning the tournament, five other wrestlers also competed for the Bluejays. West freshman Kareed Williams, at 125 pounds, came out with two losses to start his tournament, including a major decision to the day’s eventual runner-up - David Potratz of Augustana College -and Dillon Thoof, also of Augustana. At 141, Mike Tanner fell out of the tournament after losing by fall to Austin Jordan of Augustana and Clayton Buchanan of Northern State.

Jared Nickman, wrestling at 157 pounds for the blue-and-white, picked up a quarterfinal win against Morningside’s Nate Taylor in a 3-2 decision. He then lost to the tournament’s eventual runner-up, Bryce Andrews of Minnesota State-Mankato, by 3-1 decision to fall into the backside of the bracket. Nickman lost by fall in the consolation semifinals to Tanner Olson of Northern State.

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At 197 pounds for the Bluejays, Zelius Morrow lost by fall and lost again on the backside. At heavyweight, Josh Valandra was defeated in an opening round outing but battled competitively on the consolation side and earned an exciting pin at 4:00 of his match with Tim Stephens of Northwestern College. Valandra fell out of the tournament when he was pinned by MSU-Mankato’s Kyle Dalske in the third consolation round.

Goodwin’s championship came with three decisions won over Southwest Minnesota State’s Ashton Bartlett, MSU-Mankato’s James Nelson and Southwest’s Vaughn Monreal-Berner.

Following his championship match - a 7-6 decision pulled out against a larger Monreal-Berner - a very pleased Goodwin spoke with a local reporter on his efforts for the day. It was Goodwin's second tournament win of the season. He reached nationals as a freshman at West and was second for Nebraska’s Class A in his senior year of high school.

“It feels good to win this tournament. I think I’m the first wrestler under (coach) Bob (Purcell) to win,” Goodwin said. “Bob’s a great coach and takes you in. He helps you one-on-one to do the things you need to do to get better. He cares so much for his wrestlers and has fun doing it.”

Not only does the Open provide valuable mat time for wrestlers from two-year schools such as Minnesota West or Northland but it also provides chances for coaches of four-year schools to see up-and-coming talent at the junior college level.

Even further, the Worthington Open hands redshirt wrestlers - and other non-starters from four-year institutions - a chance to wrestle competitively. It is a win-win on almost every possible level.

“It is good competition and you never know who you’re going to wrestle here,” said head coach Jake Stevenson of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.  “There is a lot of high-end talent here. It’s mostly underclassmen and non-starters, so it allows us to focus on our non-starters a bit.”

For Minnesota West, Purcell said the day could not have gone on without all the support and help from volunteers, as well as the YMCA for the use of their gym. Goodwin’s efforts on the day were certainly the team’s takeaway headline but everybody on the team had a takeaway to learn from after facing such tough competition.

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The Bluejays enter a dual meet Thursday night at Rochester Community and Technical College. Next Saturday, they will strap up for a trip to Chicago for the Dill National Invite.

“A lot of matches today were fantastic. Once again it is just the people here in Worthington that made this thing fantastic,” Purcell said. “I can go on and on with (names of) people who helped. I thought the wrestling was fantastic and the coaches liked it.”

Worthington Open Championship Results 125: Mascarenas (SDSU) dec. Potratz (AC) 6-1; 133: Oftedahl (SCSU) dec. Walton 5-4; 141: Donais (AC) dec. Butcher (SMSU) 7-6; 149: double forfeit; 157: Holler (SDSU) dec. Andrews (MSU-M) 8-1; 165: Bender (AC) maj. dec. Gainey 14-4; 184: Goodwin (MW) dec. Monreal-Berner (SMSU) 7-6; 197: Martin (SMSU) dec. Lettau (AC) 3-2; 285: Story (SCSU) maj. dec. Bridgeford 9-0. 

Related Topics: WRESTLING
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