The first wrestling matches of the season were held Thursday night and it became apparent right away that results from duals throughout the pandemic-affected season should not necessarily be looked at as a reflection of a team’s capability. Ellsworth found that out the hard way when it hosted Baldwin-Woodville and lost 52-21.

Of course, the Blackhawks are not a weak opponent as they finished second in the Middle Border Conference a year ago. However, B-W was never particularly close to challenging Ellsworth’s place at the head of the conference table. In the first match of the new wrestling season, it appears the Panthers' claim to the top spot could be in threat after all.

Throughout the night, Ellsworth recorded only four match wins compared to B-W’s 14. However, Ellsworth was forced to forfeit at 220 pounds and had seven wrestlers and a pair of coaches unable to participate in the dual — including head coach Mark Matzek.

Zack Peterson of Ellsworth wrestles Baldwin-Woodville's Elliott Anderson during a home dual Dec. 3, 2020. Peterson won by a 5-3 decision. Jake Pfeifer / RiverTown Multimedia
Zack Peterson of Ellsworth wrestles Baldwin-Woodville's Elliott Anderson during a home dual Dec. 3, 2020. Peterson won by a 5-3 decision. Jake Pfeifer / RiverTown Multimedia

To start the contest, Ellsworth faced an early 9-0 deficit after Anthony Madsen lost by a 10-5 decision and Eli Rohl was pinned. Ryan Matzek then got the Panthers on the board in the 195-pound match with a win by fall to put Ellsworth within three points.

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Things began to spiral for Ellsworth from there, however. The Panthers had to forfeit their next match and then lost five of the next six by fall. The lone holdout of the group was freshman Willy Penn. After battling back from a 4-2 deficit in the third period, Penn forced overtime but ultimately lost via sudden victory.

Over the final three matches of the dual, Ellsworth finally began to get on track. Braden Matzek handily won his match as he pinned his opponent just 32 seconds in. John Gillespie followed suit in his 152-pound match with another victory by fall. In the final match of the night, Zack Peterson won his 160-pound match via 5-3 decision.

Ellsworth, 0-1, will travel to Somerset for its next conference dual on Dec. 10.

Forfeits plague Prescott and Somerset

In its wrestling season-opener, Prescott hosted Somerset on Thursday in a dual that was decided by less than a handful of points.

Prescott's Lono Thomason kicked things off by winning his 145-pound match by a 6-1 decision, before Nolan Thomley was pinned at 152 pounds. The Cardinals then rattled off two consecutive victories to build a 14-6 lead — Sam Murphy won by tech fall and Alex Holt won by fall.

From there, both teams confronted what they hoped could be avoided — forfeits. Over the next eight weight classes, Prescott was forced to forfeit three matches, Somerset one, and a double forfeit was recorded on four. The fallout from all of the forfeits left Somerset with a 24-20 lead with two matches remaining in the dual.

Alex Iberg gave Prescott a slim 26-24 lead after he won his 132-pound match by fall. However, Prescott once again was forced to forfeit, this time the 138-pound match, giving Somerset the win.

Prescott, 0-1, is scheduled to travel to St. Croix Central on Dec. 10 for their next conference dual.