Another match, another lesson learned.
The young Brainerd Warriors wrestling team lost leads in a number of close matches Tuesday and fell to the Aitkin Gobblers 30-24 at Washington Middle School.
"We had a couple of weights that had an opportunity to win but we didn't finish in the end," Brainerd coach Bob Brakke said. "I knew we needed one of those close matches, throughout the whole time, and we could've won this."
Aitkin won matches by scores of 7-4, 8-6, 4-3, 13-9, 6-3 and 6-4. Brainerd won two decisions (8-3 and 5-0).
"We're such a young team and that's kind of been the problem," said Brakke, whose team is 1-2 in dual meets. "There's no time to be young any more. We can't be making rookie mistakes like that."
For Aitkin it's always big to beat a school as large as Brainerd.
"It was a good morale-booster type thing," said Aitkin 189-pounder Darik Lamke, who sealed the match by pinning Brandon Moser in 3:07. "But we have a week until we have another match so we have to get back to work."
Gobblers coach Dan Stifter said his team has beaten the Warriors three years in a row.
"It's nice to come over to Brainerd," said Stifter, who is 39-16 as Aitkin head coach. "If we would've gotten beat, the rest of the programs in our school would have gone, 'Why do you go over and wrestle a big school like that?' So our kids come in fired up for this."
Despite coming in short-handed with Jordan Keil (103 pounds) out with a neck injury and Jason Dotzler (119) out with strep throat, the Gobblers came out fired up.
Jason Bonneville, who is 7-5, dealt freshman Andy Pickar only his second loss of the season at 130 pounds, beating him 8-6. Bonneville scored seven points in the second period, including a takedown and a near fall in the closing seconds.
At 135, Bryan Holm recorded an escape late in the third period to slip past Jesse Marohn 4-3.
"They'd matched up before and Marohn had the upper hand the last couple of times," Stifter said. "That match could have gone either way and we won it; 130 and 135 were key matches."
Because of pins by Preston Hines, Vince Sellnow and Matt Hyland, the Warriors still led the meet 21-9 after 140 pounds. The Gobblers won the next three matches and tied the score at 21-21.
"Our younger guys have been carrying our bigger guys this year," Stifter said. "But our bigger guys stepped it up tonight and turned it around."
With Brainerd heavyweight Trevor McCulloch, who has lost only once this season, staring at the Aitkin bench, the Gobblers knew they had to win the next two matches.
And they did. Josh Flier, who was ill, won by decision at 171 over Mike Weiss in overtime and Lamke beat Moser, a first-year varsity wrestler.
"I didn't realize I had to win," said Lamke, who is 5-6. "Coach just told me to be aggressive, go for points first, then look for the win and try to win it. First of all I tried to do more shots, but he was stronger than me. But it worked out he was pushing me enough where I could throw a headlock on him."
That pushed the Gobblers' lead to 30-21 with McCulloch only able to earn a maximum amount of six points with a pin. He beat Chad Hasskamp 5-0.
"Trevor didn't get a pin, but at the same time, if we needed one, he would have worked a heck of a lot harder for it too," Brakke said. "We were hoping to jump on them a little because they had some kids out of the lineup. We were hoping we'd get lucky and catch them a little bit. But it didn't happen."
Aitkin 30, Brainerd 24
103 -- Preston Hines (B) pinned Daniel Appel, 1:30
112 -- Vince Sellnow (B) pinned Kamron Tibbetts, 3:49
119 -- Matt Finlayson (A) dec. Tom Zelinske, 7-4
125 -- Dusty Pickar (B) dec. Chris Orpen, 8-3
130 -- Jason Bonneville (B) dec. Andy Pickar, 8-6
135 -- Bryan Holm (A) dec. Jesse Marohn, 4-3
140 -- Matt Hyland (B) Shawn Hasskamp, 1:59
145 -- Kyle Bender (A) dec. Nick Dircks, 13-9
152 -- Justin Keil (A) pinned Eric Hardy, 3:36
160 -- Dustin Finlayson (A) dec. Lukas Marks, 6-3
171 -- Josh Flier (A) dec. Mike Weiss, 6-4 (ot)
189 -- Darik Lamke (A) pinned Brandon Moser, 3:07
Hwt -- Trevor McCulloch (B) dec. Chad Hasskamp, 5-0
Overall -- A 3-2; B 1-2. Next meet -- Brainerd at St. Cloud Tech, 7:30 p.m. Thursday; Aitkin at Rush City, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13.
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