Despite a strong effort, the team portion of Central’s wrestling season came to a close last weekend in a section showdown against Windom on Thursday, Feb. 14.
The No. 5 Raiders fell to No. 4 Windom by a 42-27 score, but Raiders head coach Darrin Fox said he was pleased with his team’s performance in the match.
“We told them on Wednesday that if we went out and wrestled our best match we had a chance, and I think we were pretty close to wrestling our best match. We don’t have anything to hang our head about,” he said. “I really was not disappointed at all in the way we wrestled. I thought our kids wrestled hard. They just ended up being a little more balanced throughout the 14 weights.”
Windom was very strong in the lower weights, and the Raiders fell behind 11-0 after the first two matches, though Brett Kleindl and Zeke Dodge managed to avoid being pinned.
“Our first two matches were tough. They have tough kids they have down there at those weights, and I thought our 9th grader and 8th grader did a good job of fighting off their backs,” said Fox.
Josh Hendel (120) picked up a 5-4 decision to put the Raiders on the board, and Justin Carlson (132) won 11-8 to add to Central’s point total.
Davis Colley (140) picked up a pin, and Grant Mueller (145) briefly put the Raiders ahead with another third period pin to put Central up 18-17.
From that point on, however, the Raiders failed to score again until the final two matches of the night. Matt Ditsch (220), earned a decision, and Jordan Stevens (285) had a third period pin.
“It started out kind of rough, we got back into it, and once we got to the upper weights it was just about who was going to step forward and wrestle just a little better,” said Fox.
“Bubba (Stevens) beat a kid who was 15-4. He got a nice takedown and really controlled the match all the way through. That was a big confidence booster for him, coming off last week’s performance, because he wasn’t happy with it. I think he has a lot of confidence now and I hope that carries over to individual sections.”
While the Raiders obviously would have liked to advance, Fox said the overall night was encouraging in terms of the future.
“It was a fun dual to be a part of. This group showed up to wrestle, so I’m not disappointed,” he said. “We had a postseason roster of 15 underclassmen, which was a big factor in terms of what we had to work with. But at the same time we know where we’re headed. It was good to get all those kids that experience, to be in that situation. They didn’t all wrestle, but 10 of them did.
“If you looked at it on paper, were we supposed to win? No. I don’t think many people gave us a chance to win. My hope is that we were able to gain a little respect within the section with that match because our kids did wrestle hard.”
The Raiders posted a 5-8 record in dual meets this year, and the season will continue this weekend with individual sections at LeSueur. Fox said the goal at individuals will be to have 10-12 individuals win a place, and perhaps advance a few individuals to the state tournament.
“We have kids that are capable of doing it, and I hope they believe in themselves because there has been a lot of improvement,” he said.
Matches at individual sections begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, and will resume at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Contact Paul Downer at email@example.com