Seniors Cayden Henning, Ryan Muller and Brandon Dennis led the New Richmond wrestlers to a victory on Senior Night on Thursday, but the celebration was subdued following the win.
The seniors and the rest of the Tigers were concerned about senior Christian Moeller, who suffered a knee injury during the 170-pound bout. Despite Moeller’s class being an injury default, the Tigers were able to defeat St. Croix Central, 39-31.
Moeller’s injury was one of the few things that went wrong in an impressive effort by the Tigers, but his potential loss weighed heavily on the Tigers. Coach Jeff Swanson said he was impressed with how all the Tigers were more worried about Moeller than about enjoying the win.
The match started at 145 where Tyler Dennis put the Tigers ahead 6-0 win a pin. Cayden Henning followed with a 10-4 win. Swanson said one of the noteworthy efforts came from JV wrestler Chase Feiner, who was moved into the lineup to face SCC standout Devin Wasley. Wasley won 12-0, but Feiner saved the Tigers two team points by not being pinned.
That was followed by the 170-pound match, where Moeller was injured in a close battle with Braeden Bloom. That default gave the Panthers a 10-9 lead.
The lead swapped hands several times in the next several matches. New Richmond’s Sam LaPean scored a pin at 182, but Central’s Parker Shackleton matched it at 195.
One of the pivotal matches of the night was at 220. Central’s Josh Bair built an 11-4 lead after two periods. Muller was able to spill Bair to his back, getting the pin 47 seconds into the final period.
The Tigers extended the lead to 33-22 when Bode Gabriel scored a pin at 120 pounds. Central’s David Olson won a decision at 126 and Tadan Holzer scored a pin at 132, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 33-31.
The final match saw a pair of seasoned seniors take the mat with Brandon Dennis facing Central’s Erik Collins. Dennis wrestled with a fierceness, pinning Collins with three seconds left in the opening period to secure the Tigers’ win.
Swanson wasn’t surprised with the team victory, saying it’s a part of an upward trend by the Tigers.
“We’ve been wrestling pretty solid lately. We’re right where we want to be,” he said.
Central coach Brad Holzer said the Panthers had a plan and were expecting the lineup changes the Tigers used.
“We did not execute,” Holzer said. “I thought we were ready.”
Holzer said the Panthers need work before the Middle Border Conference meet that will be held in New Richmond on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“The biggest thing is we have to finish our moves. We’re getting shots, getting breakdowns,” Holzer said.
The Spartans lost at Baldwin-Woodville, 57-18, but this wasn’t a negative night in the view of the Spartans. Their top five wrestlers produced three pin falls and two good battles in losses.
Tyler Hantsbarger, Zach Maitrejean and Sawyer Wilson were able to pin their opponents in their final MBC dual matches. Somerset coach Ali Peterson said Landon Wilson and Landon Anez both performed well in their losses. Wilson lost 7-4 in the 132-pound class and Anez put up a good battle into the third period against Blaine Guthrie, one of the better upper weight wrestlers in the conference.
Peterson said this was a good way to end the dual meet season. He said the team will spend the next week honing its skills to get the conference meet.