The Ellsworth Panther wrestling team traveled to Rochester, Minn., for the prestigious Minnesota Christmas Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20-21. It was the first major tournament of the holiday season for the Panthers and they took their lumps as only two wrestlers placed.
Ellsworth finished 24th with 56 team points out of 41 teams from all over Minnesota and Wisconsin, plus teams from Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma. The champion was Simley with 232 points, just two points ahead of runner-up Stillwater.
Senior Bailey Poellinger at 132 pounds and fellow senior Logan Peterson at 220 were the only Panthers who placed. Poellinger took seventh as he went 6-2 over the two days including a bye, while Peterson finished fourth after going 5-2.
Poellinger received a bye in the first round and then beat Adam Cherne of Wayzata by a 4-2 decision. In the third championship round he lost to Ben Lunn of Shakopee by a 23-8 tech fall. From there, Poellinger won his next three matches – two by decision and one via sudden victory – before he lost to Jager Eisch of Kaukauna in the seventh consolation round by a 15-4 major decision. He then beat Dan Vanacker of Forest Lake in the seventh-place match by a 7-3 decision.
Peterson just could not get past Antonio Davis from Park of Cottage Grove, who both his losses came to on day two of the tournament. Peterson won his first two matches over Brandon Gulrud of Decorah (Ia.) and Toby Dehn (St. Michael-Albertville) by fall before meeting Davis in the quarterfinal where he lost by a 9-4 decision.
He then entered the consolation bracket where he pinned Brady Redenbaugh of Lakeville North and beat Pedro Castillo of Forest Lake by a 3-0 decision. In the consolation semifinals, Peterson beat Angel Jaimes of Aurora by a 9-6 decision to advance to the third-place match where he once again met Davis. Davis pinned Peterson near the end of the third period (5 minutes, 44 seconds).
Ellsworth only had a total of eight wrestlers compete. Sophomore Cale Ekholm (106) and senior Isiah Hanson (113) both lost their first two matches on day one. Sophomore Jack Voelker received a first-round bye and then went 2-2 at 126. He lost in the second round to Kanin Hable of Owatonna, received another bye and beat Matt McBride of Holmen in the consolation bracket before he fell to Trevor Pearson of Maple River by fall.
Senior Charlie Stuhl had a disappointing tournament at 138 pounds. He received a first-round bye and then beat Jacob Reinardy of Owatonna by a 13-1 major decision and Derrick McMillian of Albert Lea Area by fall in 3:25. In the quarterfinal he lost to Cael Swensen of Wayzata by ultimate tie breaker 4-2 and then lost to Lucas Joniaux of Luxemburg-Casco by a 9-0 major decision in his last match, an opponent he had beaten previously in his career.
Senior Carter Huppert went 4-2 overall with a bye at 152 pounds. After his first-round bye, he beat Adam El-Damir of Wayzata by a 12-4 major decision and then lost to Jackson Oplotnik of Edmond Memorial by fall. In the consolation bracket, he beat Jacob Leiva of Willmar by another major decision (9-0) and Caleb Brandenburg of Anoka 11-5. Huppert then lost to Chase Bloomquist of Prior Lake by a 6-0 decision.
Sophomore Ian Matzek was 2-2 with a bye at 195 pounds. He beat Luke Eggert of Mounds View in the second championship round by fall in 5:12 but then lost to Bram Fitzsimonds of Wasconia and Tate Skogquist of St. Francis in consecutive matches.
Ellsworth returns to Rochester Jan. 3-4 for the nationally renowned dual-meet tournament The Clash. For Day 1 pool play, the Panthers are in an eight-team bracket with Shakopee, G-E-T, Ankeny Centennial (Ia.), Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville (Minn.), Glenbard North (Ill.), Blaine and Bettendorf (Ia.). They wrestle Glenbard North in the first round and face the winner of Blaine and Bettendorf in the second. How Ellsworth does in pool-play on Day 1 determines what bracket and what place they will wrestle for on Day 2.