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Wrestling: Worthington wins conference dual over Pipestone Area

WORTHINGTON -- Two Big South Conference wrestling teams with state tournament dreams locked horns at Worthington High School Thursday night, and it was the home team that emerged, 47-21.

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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Pipestone's McKinley Bush (left) scores on Worthington's Preston Anderson in the 152-pound class on Thursday in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Two Big South Conference wrestling teams with state tournament dreams locked horns at Worthington High School Thursday night, and it was the home team that emerged, 47-21.

Worthington’s Ethan Pavelko, wrestling at 138 pounds, and Mason Byrne, competing at 170, scored big wins as the Trojans defeated Pipestone Area.

Pavelko scored a takedown against the Arrows’ Emerson Winter with one second remaining in the third period for a 3-1 victory. Byrne took on Pipestone-Area’s Garrett Ploeger -- who is state-ranked -- and was impressive throughout in a 12-3 win.

Pipestone Area put itself at a disadvantage prior to the match as state Class A 113-pound individual champion Hunter Burnett was unable to compete due to a hand injury he sustained in practice. Burnett will be back in action in about three weeks, but on Thursday his injury left the Arrows vulnerable in the lighter weights -- which is normally a team strength.

Another fine Arrow wrestler, 220-pounder Sy Stangeland, was also unable to compete. That didn’t help, either.

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As strong as WHS looked Thursday night, it might not have mattered anyway. The Trojans won three matches by forfeit and won the final five weight classes to turn a 21-21 tie into a rout.

WHS head coach Mark Prunty noted the Arrow’s lack of depth, but he said he was extremely proud of his boys.

“I’m not going to take anything away from our guys. They wrestled extremely well,” he said. “Top to bottom, we wrestled well.”

Burnett’s absence caused PA to forfeit two early weight classes, 113 and 120. The Arrows’ Grant Budden pinned Worthington’s Ivan Martinez in 44 seconds at 106, and after forfeiting the next two, the Arrows evened things up as their other state champ, Michael Suda, ran up the score on Worthington’s Lay K Paw before pinning him in the second period, in 3:14, at 126 pounds.

Then it was Worthington’s turn as junior 132-pounder Jacob Prunty quickly compiled points before pinning Carson Wipf in 2:36.

Now the match was entering its middle stage where PA head coach Brian Bos had said earlier in the week the team winner should ultimately be determined -- made even more important for the Arrows due to the Burnett injury.

The 138-pound match lived up to all expectations as Pipestone Area senior Emerson Winter and Worthington junior Ethan Pavelko fought to the finish. Winter held on to a 1-0 lead through two periods, but with 53 seconds remaining in the third, Pavelko managed an escape to knot the score at 1-1. Twice in the closing seconds Pavelko broke Winter’s defenses to grab a leg. Winter fought him off the first time but gave up a dramatic takedown with only a second left. Pavelko earned his 3-1 win over the Arrow senior through sheer determination.

“Ethan works extra hard in the room,” coach Prunty said. “He’s in great shape, and it shows. He could’ve taken it into overtime, because that’s where it was headed. But he just worked and worked.”

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  At 145 pounds, Pipestone Area’s Bill Olsen, after working out to a 6-3 lead through two periods, fought off Worthington’s Brayden Donkersloot for a 10-5 win. That cut into Worthington’s lead, bringing the Arrows to a 21-15 deficit.

The Arrows could ill afford to lose the 152-pound match between its own McKinley Bush and the Trojans’ Preston Anderson. And Bush came through with a 7-2 win.

The match drew even at 21-21 as PA 160-pounder Logan Steenstra decisioned Worthington’s Jacob Neuberger 8-2.

Another one of the Arrows’ top matmen, the state-ranked Ploeger, took on a dangerous Byrne at 170. Ploeger scored first, but Byrne reversed him and put the PAHS standout onto his back, taking a 5-2 lead into the second period. Refusing to buckle, Byrne took an 8-2 lead into the final period and won it, 12-3.

“I just figured I’d go and wrestle my match. Keep control when I could and take the points when they come,” Byrne said afterward, saying he was determined to stay aggressive. “Especially that time when we were kind of scrambling. I knew I had to keep my pressure on, to stay on top.

“I watched some of his matches in previous tournaments, and I knew I could wrestle with him. I didn’t know I would win, but I knew I had a chance.”

Bos admitted afterward he wished his Arrows could take on the Trojans at a time they were healthier. But he said he was impressed with the Trojans. And what he asked of Ploeger, he said, was maybe just a little too much.

Knowing the Arrows were in danger of losing the match, Bos asked Ploeger to go for a fall.

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“I told Garrett, ‘You have to get six.’ So he tried, but he gave up five (a reversal and near fall points).”

After the 170-pound match, the Trojans took over. Marcos Herrera pinned PA’s Chris Claro in 1:38 at 182. Vince Riley, who was honored before the meet for winning his 125th career match recently, won by forfeit at 195. Worthington’s Brandon Kempema won by fall in 3:05 over Jamison Vanderwal at 220. And at 285, Worthington’s Nic Putnam beat Dylan Arndt 12-2.

Related Topics: WRESTLING
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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