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P-E-M falls in finals to top-ranked Simley

By Ben Pherson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

KASSON — The Plainview-Elgin-Millville wrestling team had nothing left in its collective gas tank when it reached the finals of Saturday’s 13th annual Swalla Duals.

P-E-M coach Mike Matiash said the Bulldogs were physically and emotionally drained after an impressive 38-27 victory over No. 4-ranked Scott West in the tournament semifinals. The Bulldogs fell flat in the finals, losing to top-ranked Simley 48-12.

"I had hoped we could close the gap a little more against Simley, but I think we were so geared up as a team and a coaching staff for the Scott West dual that we just didn’t have our best against Simley," Matiash said. "And that’s a great team; Simley doesn’t have any weak spots. They’re solid top to bottom."

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The victory over Scott West was extremely important for state tournament seeding, if both teams advance to Xcel Energy Center. The victory should make the Bulldogs the front-runner for the No. 4 seed at state.

Matiash said his kids knew what was on the line in that dual.

"It’s hard to keep secrets; I think most of the kids knew the state tournament was going to be seeded before I did," Matiash said. "This should mean we’d be the No. 4 seed if we get there."

The Bulldogs coasted through pool play Saturday to advance to the championship bracket. They handily disposed of Rochester Mayo, 64-6, and Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 62-6.

P-E-M junior 152-pounder Blaine Miller had an outstanding tournament. He went 4-0, and one of those wins was a pin over Mayo’s Mike Minske, who is ranked No. 8 in Class AAA. Miller also defeated No. 5-ranked Kurtis Julson of Simley, Dillan Fogarty of Scott West and Colby Mehrkens of Zumbrota-Mazeppa.

For his efforts, Miller was named to the all-tournament team.

"I think Blaine had about as great a tournament as he could have," Matiash said. "Pinning Minske was impressive. Just beating him is a big deal. He beat his Scott West kid. And I know he wasn’t happy with the way the team performed against Simley, so he made sure he went out there and got a win."

P-E-M heavyweight Cam Miller also had an outstanding tournament. He went 4-0, including the dual-clinching win against Scott West. Miller also was named to the all-tournament team.

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Plainview-Elgin-Millville improved to 27-5 overall. The Bulldogs’ five losses are to Simley (twice), Apple Valley, Christiansburg, Va., and Neuqua Valley, Ill. Four of P-E-M’s five losses are to teams ranked in the top 10 in the entire nation — AppleValley (No. 3), Christiansburg (No. 8) and Simley (No. 9).

"We feel pretty good about the year we’re having," Matiash said. "I think we’re only three wins away from the school record. And I think we’re still getting better."

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