ST. PAUL Every time New York Mills increased its advantage Aitkin would come back to decrease it.
The two teams' matchup in the quarterfinals was back and forth throughout, but in the end the Eagles would hang on to defeat the Gobblers 31-26 in the Class 1A team tournaments quarterfinals Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
The big reason for the win was bonus points. Head coach Dan Stifter pointed to that fact afterwards.
"They came out and battled well and you knew it was going to come down to bonus points here and there and it did," he said. "But the kids wrestled hard and we had a shot at winning at the end. It just didn't work out for us tonight."
Aitkin's Andy Hallberg (top) pinned Ryan Lee of New York Mills in the Class 1A state team wrestling tournament Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Dispatch Photo/Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
New York Mills got on the board first as the Eagles' Josh Bernu posted a 14-0 major decision over Jordan Chouanard at 103 pounds.
No. 10 Keith Wasserzieher of Aitkin responded with a tight 3-2 decision over Myron Bell at 112.
Next was the first of the crucial bonus points New York Mills used to take the match. The Eagles' Brian Schornack (119) pinned Ryan Smith at 3:26 to push his team's advantage to 10-3.
Aitkin rebounded by posting two straight decision wins by Dalton Stevens and Craig Leathers. The victories moved the score to 10-9 in the Eagles' favor.
Mills' answered with a decision and pin to increase its lead to 19-9.
Aitkin's Justin Chouanard, ranked No. 5, could not pick up bonus points at 145 as he battled to a 5-0 decision over Jake Johnson.
Another Eagles' pin at 152 pushed their lead to 25-12.
The Gobblers were not finished.
New York Mills 31, Aitkin 26
The key: Aitkin won eight of 14 matches but failed to pick up big bonus points.
Next: Aitkin vs. Madelia-Truman-Martin in consolation bracket, 5 p.m. Friday
No. 6 Andrew Hallberg pinned Ryan Lee in 40 seconds at 160. Taylor Tuenge, an Aitkin alternate who came into the tournament just 3-1, captured a 16-7 major decision over Brian Fisher at 171. Matt Christensen, ranked No. 2 at 171, kept the Aitkin run going taking a 10-0 major decision at 189 over Brendan Frost, ranked No. 8 at 171, to give Aitkin its first lead of the night at 26-25.
Stifter said Tuenge's win was crucial in giving Aitkin a shot at the end.
"Travis (Tuenge) has stepped in a couple of times this season and gotten some wins for us. He's wrestling behind Hallberg and Christensen so he doesn't see a lot of mat time. So he's a little unknown," he said. "But he's a pretty good athlete. He came and battled and got us right back in it with a chance to win."
Stifter added that he was hoping for more bonus points, but it's hard to pick them up against state tournament competition.
"We had a couple of pins we had hoped for that we didn't get. They were able to keep us from scoring the bonus points," he said. "We put a lot of pressure on Justin (Chouanard) and Matt (Christensen) and Andrew (Hallberg) and Nathan Cummings every match. We've ridden their shoulders to this point, sometimes it's unfair to say we should have gotten a pin there because it's pretty tough competition down here."
New York Mills would get the last two matches as Andrew Frost, ranked No. 7 at 285 pounds, grabbed a 12-6 decision over Aitkin's Nathan Cummings at 215 and the Eagles' Nathan Burg defeated Taylor Wilke 9-2 at 285.
At 125-pounds, Aitkin's Dalton Stevens (top) defeated New York Mills' Michael Dittman 5-0 during team competition Thursday at the state wrestling tournament in St. Paul. Dispatch Photo/Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"There was just too much beef on top of him (Wilke). He just couldn't get his hips under him and get going," he said. "But I told the team right away after the match that we were not disappointed with the effort. Hopefully we're able to regroup tomorrow. Get some weights we didn't get tonight and see what happens."
New York Mills 31, Aitkin 26
103: Josh Bernu (A) maj. dec. Jordan Chouanard 14-0
112: No. 10 Keith Wasserzieher (A) dec. Myron Bell 3-2
119: Brian Schornack (NYM) fall Ryan Smith 3:26
125: Dalton Stevens (A) dec. Mike Dittman 5-0
130: Craig Leathers (A) dec. Mike Kumpula 8-5
135: Jordan Vaughan (NYM) dec. Jeff Moe 6-0
140: No. 4 Jordan Novak (NYM) fall Ryan Skinner 3:36
145: No. 5 Justin Chouanard (A) dec. Jake Johnson 5-0
152: Tyler Wegscheid (NYM) fall Taylor-Thomas Bitker 2:34
160: No. 6 Andrew Hallberg (A) fall Ryan Lee 0:40
171: Travis Tuenge (A) maj. dec. Brian Fisher 16-7
189: No. 2 Matt Christensen (A) maj. dec. No. 8 Brendan Frost 10-0
215: No. 7 Andrew Frost (NYM) dec. Nathan Cummings 12-6
285: Nathan Burg (NYM) dec. Taylor Wilke 9-2
TY RUSHMEYER may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5865.
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