The Mora Mustangs wrestlers excelled as a team at the Minnesota State Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 28; and in the process, they defeated a longtime foe in historic fashion.
Mora’s first opponent on Thursday was the top-rated Perham Yellowjackets. The Mustangs won three matches out of the 14, losing 51-10. In order to place at State, then, the Mustangs needed to do something head coach Tom Youngblom’s teams had never done: beat the fifth-seeded Foley Falcons. Mora has a combined 0-25 record against Foley, who had beat them 39-28 earlier in the year.
“I knew when we went to State there’d be a chance that we would run into Foley again,” said Youngblom, “and we’ve always struggled against the Falcons.”
Youngblom explained that points in team wrestling are awarded based on the ways each matchup is won. “A decision is worth three team points; a major is four; a technical fall is five; and a fall or pin is worth six. The last three are called ‘bonus points,’ and Foley’s team is famous for getting those. However, we were able to hold Foley to three-point decisions only, while gaining all but one of our victories through the bonus points.”
These bonus points were significant till the very end of the two teams’ meeting. The final match featured sophomore heavyweight Tanner Grangruth getting an escape with two seconds left. This gave Foley only a decision win, leaving them one bonus point shy and giving Mora a 25-24 victory.
This victory pitted the Mustangs against Totino Grace in the consolation round, where they won eight victories in the matchup. Sophomore Sam Udstuen wrapped up the dual with a 3-2 win, giving the team fifth place with a score of 40-30.
Individual wrestlers took center stage on Friday, March 1. All eight of Mora’s individual wrestlers was matched up against an opponent ranked in the top eight. Eighth grader Avery Nelson (106 pounds) and seniors Ryan Nosbush (132), Jon Smith (152) and Danny Schroeder (170) each won first-round victories; eighth grader Tucker Hass (126), seniors Austin Voss (160) and Jake Nowling (195), and Tanner Grangruth (285) lost their first-round matches.
The next round was even harder on the Mustangs, where each wrestler lost his second match.
“Avery defeated junior Owen Werner, the No. 1 rated and top-seeded wrestler from Perham, who beat him the day before,” Youngblom said. “The State Tournament ended a pretty special Mustang wrestling season.”
“Though we didn’t have a wrestler place in the individual competition, we still managed to take fifth place in team competition. This is a testament to how well the Mustangs wrestled as a team.”
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