It would have been easy to write off the New Richmond wrestlers midway through their season-opening match last Thursday against Osceola.
Halfway through the dual, New Richmond trailed 25-12. The Tigers flipped the script in the second half of the night, winning six of the final seven matches to pull away from Osceola for a 43-31 win. The Tigers closed with pins in four of the final five matches.
The turnabout started with the Dennis brothers. Brandon Dennis won 11-3 in the 138-pound class and Tyler Dennis followed with a 5-3 decision in the 145-pound class.
Freshman Brad Lefler made a strong impression in his first varsity match. He controlled the 152-pound bout, getting the pin in 4 minutes, 22 seconds to tie the score at 25-25. The Tigers took the lead when Christian Moeller put together a sweet move to get a second period pin at 160, but Osceola matched that pin at 170.
The Tigers took the lead for good when Jake LaVenture reversed his opponent to his back early in the third period of the 182-pound class, getting the pin at 4:13. The Tigers completed the win when Braeden Gefeke earned a pin 2:37 into the 195-pound class.
Tiger coach Jeff Swanson said he was pleasantly surprised to come away with the victory. He said Ryan Muller’s win against an experienced opponent in the first match of the night, at 195, was a key early win. Freshman Noah Henning made a huge statement, pinning his opponent 15 seconds into the 113-pound class.
Swanson said the performance of the Tigers in the four lowest weights was a big help, because they didn’t allow Osceola’s top wrestlers to get the maximum points. Swanson said the effort of Matt Harle in the 106-pound match was particularly encouraging.
At Lakeville South
The Tigers placed sixth among 11 teams at the annual Lakeville South Invitational that opened New Richmond’s tournament schedule.
There were seven Tigers who finished among the top five wrestlers in their weight class. The top finish came from Brandon Dennis at 138. Dennis defeated the fourth-ranked Minnesota Class AAA wrestler in the semifinals, but was defeated by the seventh-ranked wrestler in the finals.
“His weight class was for men only,” Swanson said.
Tyler Dennis and Muller were fourth-place finishers. Fifth-place finishers were Tyler Harris, Cayden Henning, Gefeke, LaVenture and Adam Stener.
The Tigers will wrestle in another tournament this Saturday, at Eau Claire North. They have another MBC dual match this Thursday at Baldwin-Woodville.