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Panther wrestlers take on MBC's best

St. Croix Central's Braeden Bloom (top) held the early advantage over Somerset's Zach Maitrejean, but Maitrejean was able to come back and get the pin in the 145-pound bout last Thursday. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The final two dual matches of the season for the St. Croix Central wrestling team were against the two best teams in the Middle Border Conference.

Last Tuesday, the Panthers wrestled at MBC champion Ellsworth, losing 74-6. That was followed by a match at second place Somerset last Thursday, where the Panthers lost 60-6.

The only similarity of the two matches was that Central's points were generated by junior Ryan Larson. He received a forfeit at Ellsworth. On Thursday, he scored a second period pin against Somerset senior Peter Lepper.

Central coach Brad Holzer said it was good to get Larson a match against a quality opponent. The coaches have high hopes for Larson at this Saturday's conference tournament and wanted him to get tested as he works his way back to full health after missing a large portion of the season due to injury.

At Ellsworth, the young Central wrestlers were clearly overmatched. Holzer said the highlight of Tuesday night may have been the fact that the Central youth wrestlers traveled with the varsity on the bus to Ellsworth. The youth wrestlers got four rounds of action in, and Holzer said they fared favorably against the Ellsworth wrestlers. He had no qualms with the varsity performance.

"They've been doing that to everybody," he said of the one-sided score against Ellsworth.

The 60-6 score at Somerset was highly deceptive in Central's view. While Larson was the only Panther winner, Central's wrestlers were competitive in nearly every match. Tadan Holzer, Frank Holter, George Vondriska and Charlie Magee were defeated in close decisions.

Coach Holzer said the plan for Saturday's conference tournament is to focus on strong finishes in matches. He's looking for the Panthers to be more aggressive later in matches, to be in position to finish off possible wins.

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 more than 30 years.

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