'AUSTIN EDITION Young' Austin wrestlers get the job done
Packers turn back Mankato West in final regular-season home match
By Scott A. Kolb
Austin closed out the home portion of its regular season wrestling schedule Tuesday night with a 40-28 win over Mankato West.
This was the sixth Big Nine Conference win of the season for the Packers and it assures them of another home date in the upcoming section tournament. The Packers overcame an early deficit to beat the West Scarlets in front of their faithful fans at Ove Berven Gym.
There were a few odd twist and turns along the road to victory, but the young guys for the Packers got the job done. Austin had only two seniors wrestling on the night compared to seven for West.
After an odd beginning in which each team gave up a forfeit, the two sides got down to settling matters on the mat. Chris Perez of West defeated Josh Akkerman of Austin in a decision at 171. Yet, even in defeat the Packers did things right. Akkerman got a late escape and avoided losing by major decision, which saved his team a point.
Trailing 9-6, the Packers looked to senior Marcus Ball at 189 for some momentum and he delivered. Ball remained unbeaten on the season with a third period pin and the Packers had the lead for good.
"It was a big win to get this match and now we're assured of coming back home in the section," Ball said. "I'm feeling more healthy with each match and trying to get back in shape for the section meet. It took me a little while to get my guy into a position for a pin, but I knew we needed the points and I put him down."
Ball's pin started the Packers on a run of 21 straight points. Robert Frost, the other Austin senior, followed with a decision at 215 and the run continued with pins for the Packers in the next two matches.
Mike "The Deep Freeze" Frost had a wild ride in his heavyweight match for the Packers. Frost fell behind 2-0 in the first period and appeared to be in trouble against Corey Wandersee of West. Frost was down 4-2 in the third period, when things turned around.
An accidental head butt by Frost turned the tide in the heavyweight match. While Wandersee tried in vain to readjust his headgear, Frost took him down for a pin and a 21-9 lead for Austin.
"After I accidentally head-butted him, he came back mad at me," Mike Frost said. "When he made the move, I planted my left foot and took him to the mat. I've been practicing that move for a few weeks and it worked. It was one of those wins where things ended a lot better than they started."
Nick Grage capped off the Austin run with a pin at 103 for a 27-9 lead. Then, things got a bit interesting as West made a comeback. Dan Rysavy at 119 and Ethan Eggum at 125 both won to give the Packers a 36-12 lead, but then the Scarlets scored the next 16 points.
The Packers had a big enough lead to still get the win heading into the final match at 145, but Tim Bissen still took matters into his own hands. Bissen stopped the slide with a major decision and Austin had another impressive conference win.
"Our guys battled the whole way and gained a lot more confidence with this win," Austin coach Bill Kinney said. "We've waited for Mike to be more aggressive at heavyweight and his victory set the tone for us. That's the one thing with our young guys, their confidence grows with each win. This gives us a lot of momentum heading into our next match."
Austin (10-6, 6-1) has road meets with the top two teams in the conference, Owatonna and Albert Lea, left on the schedule. The Packers take on their archrivals, the Albert Lea Tigers, on Friday at 7 p.m.
AUSTIN 40, MANKATO WEST 28
152 -- Tim Buzick (MW) won by forfeit; 160 -- Dave Cunningham (A) won by forfeit; 171 -- Chris Perez (MW) dec. Josh Akkerman 12-5; 189 -- Marcus Ball (A) pinned Matt Gullickson 4:13; 215 -- Robert Frost (A) dec. Bobby Ross 5-2; 275 -- Mike Frost (A) pinned Corey Wandersee 2:26; 103 -- Nick Grage (A) pinned Zach Enz 3:18; 112 -- Kyle Gauker (MW) dec. Jim McDermott 2-0; 119 -- Dan Rysavy (A) dec. Matt Holmgren 2-0; 125 -- Ethan Eggum (A) pinned Jake Lowe 5:46; 130 -- Travis Pomranke (MW) pinned Trevor Conway 3:45; 135 -- Scott Allen (MW) pinned Sam Stier 3:39; 140 -- Dan Conlin (MW) maj. dec. Codey Farrell 11-3; 145 -- Tim Bissen (A) maj. dec. Nick Bicknase 14-6.