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St. Croix Central wrestlers win by taking final three bouts

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The objective was clear.

The St. Croix Central wrestling team needed wins in the final three matches to pull out its season opener against Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg last Thursday.

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The Panthers did get those wins, including a pair of 4-2 nail-biters, to score a 33-28 win in front of their home fans on Thursday.

The score stood at 28-15 heading into the 182-pound bout, though the Panthers knew they’d be receiving a forfeit in the heavyweight class.

Senior Brian Gibb wrestled for the Panthers at 182, facing Josh Glover. Gibb scored a takedown right away, then was frustrated in his continual efforts to try turning Glover for back points. Glover came back to tie the match in the third period. Gibb got it done in the overtime, scoring a quick takedown.

Josh VanBeek showed some maturity in getting the 4-2 win at 195 pounds. VanBeek had to battle through fatigue in the third period to get the winning points.

That left the match in the hands of Central’s Decker Grass. The work Grass did to get down to 220 pounds paid off. He figured out he was stronger than Luck’s Sam Pewaush and was able to get the pin 19 seconds into the third period that made the Panthers winners.

“Making 220 was a great push for him,” said Central coach Brad Holzer. “He looks really good at 220. Losing those 15 pounds totally transformed his body.”

The Panthers had a 12-0 lead in the early stages of the match. The Panthers have three wrestlers to cover the three lowest weights. Freshmen Jake Nyhagen and Drew Malecek were bumped up to 120 and 126 so Luck couldn’t get an extra forfeit. Nyhagen had no problem in his first high school meet, scoring a pin in 50 seconds in the 120-pound bout. Malecek received a forfeit at 126.

Luck then won four straight matches. One was an injury default when Ryan Gulich had such severe cramps in his calves that he couldn’t complete the match.

Holzer said one of the turning points for the Panthers was the fourth loss. Eman Peterson faced Tristan Brewer, who is probably Luck’s best wrestler. Peterson battled Brewer heartily, only losing 9-1.

“The way he wrestled Brewer set the tone for us for the rest of the night,” Holzer said. “Eman’s hard to wrestle. He frustrates a lot of good kids.”

In the next match, the Panthers got a 3-0 win from Kyle Larson against another of Luck’s better wrestlers. Holzer said Larson appears to be making the transition to a higher weight this season.

There were 10 junior varsity matches wrestled, with Central winning eight of them. The Panthers are a young team and that mat experience is critical. The wrestlers will get more experience this Saturday, when they compete in the La Crosse Logan Invitational.

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Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
(715) 243-7767 x242
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