RIVER FALLS, Wis.-- Sometimes the little things make a big difference.
That was River Falls’ wrestling coach Kevin Black’s message to his team after the Cats placed second to Amery by 1.5 points at the New Richmond Invitational Saturday. The Wildcats, the defending NRI champs, finished with 270.5 points while Amery won the team title with 272.
“It certainly wasn't what we had planned on doing after winning it last year and returning with a very strong team this year,” Black said. “We just couldn't figure out how to take care of the little things and lost a close one on missed bonus points and other small factors. Come tournament time, little things are going to make a huge difference, so hopefully this is a great learning lesson for everyone.”
Sophomore Vito Massa didn’t let little things get in his way Saturday, Massa went 5-0 on the day and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after pinning top-ranked Walker Ingham of Amery in the 145 pound finals. James Hampton (126 pounds), Garett Borth (182) and Gabe Glaubitz (285) all finished second.
“Gabe has really stepped in nicely at 285 for us this year and now has over 20 wins on the season,” Black said about Glaubitz. “He works very hard and asks a lot of great questions. His perseverance is producing the results that he wants and our team needs.”
Black said Borth has also taken some big steps this year.
“He's wrestling great and leading well on and off the mat.”
Tyler Haydon added a third place finish at 160 pounds and Gavin Kohel took third at 170 while Aidan Peterson (113), Cooper Andrea (132), Owen Larson (138) each placed eighth.
Two nights earlier the Wildcats improved to 11-2 overall, 2-1 in Big Rivers Conference duals, with a 53-18 victory over Menomonie. After losing the first two matches of the night, River Falls took 11 of the next 12 to earn the win
Menomonie opened the night with pins at 120 and 126 pounds but it was all River Falls after that, beginning with Andrea posting a pin at 132 pounds to cut the Mustang lead in half.
Larson followed with a 9-2 decision at 138 before Massa earned a first period pin at 145 to give the Wildcats the lead for good, 15-12.
River Falls continued to widen its lead with a 12-8 decision from Miles Longsdorf at 152 pounds, a 12-4 major decision by Haydon at 160 and 7-4 decision by Kohel at 170 before Menomonie scored its final points with a pin at 182 pounds to pull to within seven, 25-18.
That’s as close as the Mustangs would get as the Cats closed the night with back-to-back pins from Austin Mueller at 195 pounds and Nathan Ottum at 220, a Menomonie forfeit at 285, an 18-6 major decision from Travis Moelter at 106 and a pin by Peterson at 113.
The Cats will visit Rice Lake Thursday, Jan. 16 before their final home meet of the season Thursday, Jan. 23, against Eau Claire Memorial.