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St. Croix Central wrestlers entertain Hall of Fame crowd

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The crowd for the St. Croix Central wrestling Hall of Fame night got to view two Panther dual match victories on Friday night.

Former Central wrestler Mike Kappers, a 1993 graduate, was inducted into the Panther Hall of Fame. With a sizeable crowd on hand, the Panthers scored wins over St. Croix Falls and Baldwin-Woodville.

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The Panthers first faced the Saints and it was a dramatic finish with the Panthers overcoming a nine-point deficit in the final two individual matches.

With the 160- and 170-pound matches left, the Panthers not only needed wins, they needed pins. Trent Smith and Kyle Larson, both back in the lineup after recent injuries, knew they had to come through. Smith got the job done at 160 pounds, getting a pin with four seconds left in the second period.

Larson needed a minimum of a four-point major decision to lock up the team victory. Larson took care of the victory, pinning Cory Theroux with 14 seconds left in the first period. Panther coach Brad Holzer said having Smith and Larson back is a good addition to the wrestling room, where they push each other as practice partners.

The win resulted from some fortunate lineup moves for the Panthers. The Panthers did their best to avoid the Saints’ top two wrestlers, Joe Radamacher and Drew Wheeler. Decker Grass moved up to 285 pounds and was able to earn a pin.

By forfeiting to Wheeler at 126 pounds, Holzer gambled the Panthers could win two of the next three matches. Ryan Pfeifer and Connor Burton made the move pay off. Pfeifer earned a 4-3 win at 132 pounds and Burton edged CJ Hasnoot 6-4.

Pfeifer avenged a loss he suffered to St. Croix Falls at the Northern Badger Invitational. So did Jake Nyhagen, who earned a 5-3 win over Dalton Langer in the 113-pound battle.

That match was followed by the Hall of Fame event. The evening had begun with a dual match between St. Croix Falls and Baldwin-Woodville.

The night was completed with the Panthers rolling past Baldwin-Woodville 52-21. The Blackhawks had several wrestlers missing due to injuries, giving the Panthers five forfeits. With the team victory already locked up, the Panthers rested two wrestlers. Of the eight matches that were contested, the Panthers scored five wins.

The closest battle of this dual was between Nyhagen and B-W’s Cole Skelton at 113 pounds. Skelton led 1-0 entering the third period. Nyhagen scored a quick escape and moments later, Nyhagen scored a four-point move. From there, Nyhagen was able to finish with a 6-3 win.

The Panthers were scheduled to resume their Dunn-St. Croix Conference schedule this Thursday with a match at Boyceville. This match has been postponed due to the frigid weather, with a makeup date expected to be announced in the near future.  The Panthers are also in action, competing in the annual Durand Duals tournament. This tournament should provide a potent challenge for the Panthers, with dual matches lined up against Menomonie, Mondovi, Stanley-Boyd, Whitehall and Durand.

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