NEW ULM - For a three-match stretch during Thursday's dual meet between the New Ulm wrestling team and St. Peter, the fan appreciation night crowd was treated to some nail-biting wrestling action.
At 138, 145 and 152 pounds, each match was decided by the narrowest of margins, including a triple-overtime contest at 145 between the Eagles' Austin Brandes and the Saints' Steven Pettis.
Despite the drama throughout the middle of the lineup, St. Peter was dominant in most of the rest of the matches, earning a total of seven falls in a 58-12 victory.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Austin Brandes wrestles St. Peter’s Steven Pettis in the 145-pound match Thursday at NUHS.
"I knew they had a real solid lineup, so I knew it was going to be a tough dual, but I think our kids battled," New Ulm head coach John Rieser said. "Hats off to them, they wrestled a good dual against us."
The Saints took an early 18-6 lead, with Joey More (106) and Chris Pettis (120) earning falls for the visitors and each team forfeiting a match.
New Ulm senior Luke Cihak then fell behind early in his match at 132, a deficit that proved too much to rally from as he fell by a 16-7 major decision to Collin Thompson to bring the score to 22-6.
However, Jagger Hoffmann helped get the home side going when he hit the mat at 138 to set up the dramatic three-match stretch.
"I knew those were going to be some good matches in there," Rieser said. "We're improving, we're fighting hard and it's coming along real nice."
Hoffmann trailed 1-0 against Cody Kurth after the first period of the match, but he earned an escape early in the second period and added a takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the period to take a 3-1 lead.
Hoffmann then withstood all of Kurth's efforts in the third period to earn a 3-2 decision that cut the score to 22-9.
Brandes kept the Eagles' rally going with a solid effort at 145, erasing a 4-2 deficit after two periods to tie the score at 4-4 and send the match into overtime.
After a scoreless first overtime, Brandes earned an escape in the second overtime to take a 5-4 lead. However, Steven Pettis manufactured a two-point reversal with five seconds remaining in the third overtime to earn a 6-5 decision.
At 152, New Ulm's Sam Hoppe was also faced with a deficit after two periods, but he put together a big third period to earn an 8-5 decision to make the score 25-12.
"I feel I've been working hard in practice, getting those shots down," Hoppe said. "I'll just keep working out there. It's all determination - you've got to keep fighting out there and keep working."
Hoppe took a 2-1 lead in the first period after earning a takedown, but Major Brock responded with a strong second period to take a 4-3 edge into the third period.
Hoppe erased the deficit by earning a takedown with a minute remaining in the match, adding a two-point near fall to build enough of a margin to ensure victory.
"It's a mental thing," Hoppe said. "Once you get the shot, it all works better for you."
However, St. Peter responded with consecutive falls by Kyle Bosacker (160) and Ashton Bartlett (170) to produce an unassailable 37-12 lead, clinching the contest for the Saints.
Dylan Connor (182) and Bennett Baker (195) made it four straight falls for the Saints, but New Ulm's Braxton Greenwaldt ended the streak with a valiant effort at 220.
Greenwaldt trailed Anthony Putz 9-2 entering the third period, but earned a reversal and a near fall in the third period to get within striking distance. However, Putz held on for a 10-6 decision.
St. Peter's Travis Brock earned a fall deep in the third period against Andy Bregel at 285 to end the contest.
Rieser was happy with the turnout the team received for its fan appreciation night.
"I thought we had a real nice crowd here tonight, I'm happy everybody came out to see how hard we've been working," Rieser said. "We just like to show our appreciation for the people that support us."
The Eagles now enter a busy stretch, beginning with an eight-team tournament at Maple River on Saturday. New Ulm will then compete in a triangular in Madelia on Tuesday, host St. James on Thursday and then compete at a tournament in St. Francis next Friday.
"We worked hard over the holidays," Rieser said. "I think they know what they need to do here on out, keep working hard. It's hard when you wrestle every other day, but it's good for competition, we know what to work on."
St. Peter 58, New Ulm 12
106 - Joey More (SP) pinned Ryan Wacker 1:57; 113 - Shaun Timmerman (SP) forfeit; 120 - Chris Pettis (SP) pinned Elijah Northquest 1:15; 126 - Austin Iles (NU) forfeit; 132 - Collin Thompson (SP) major dec. Luke Cihak 16-7; 138 - Jagger Hoffmann (NU) dec. Cody Kurth 3-2; 145 - Steven Pettis (SP) dec. Austin Brandes 6-5 (3OT); 152 - Sam Hoppe (NU) dec. Major Brock 8-5; 160 - Kyle Bosacker (SP) pinned Riley Shelgren 1:01; 170 - Ashton Bartlett (SP) pinned Nathan Janke 1:15; 182 - Dylan Connor (SP) pinned Cole Wilfahrt 1:11; 195 - Bennett Baker (SP) pinned Lorenzo Hernandez 2:44; 220 - Anthony Putz (SP) dec. Braxton Greenwaldt 10-6; 285 - Travis Brock (SP) pinned Andy Bregel 5:13.