Wrestlers staying strong
The Wildcat wrestling team won the final four matches of the night to score a come-from-behind 40-30 victory over Rice Lake Thursday, Dec. 6 before wrestling to a third place finish at the 12-teaam Barron Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 8.
River Falls trailed Rice Lake 30-24 when Winston Bystrom picked up a 5-3 overtime decision at 152 pounds to cut the deficit in half. Eric Dartsch earned a 14-7 decision at 160 to tie the score before Ryan Tierney pinned his opponent at 170 pounds and Sebastian Larson posted a 15-6 major decision at 182 in the final match of the night.
Rice Lake took a 9-0 lead and after heavyweight Triston Lee picked up the Cats' first points of the night with a pin and Sam Burns picked up a forfeit at 106 pounds, the Cats forfeited at 113 and 120 to fall behind 21-12.
Logan Johnson came up with a pin at 126 pounds and Zach Radkey-Pechacek gave River Falls a brief three-point lead with a pin at 132 but Rice Lake won the next two matches to take a three-point lead with four matches remaining, setting the stage for the Wildcats' comeback.
"I knew they were much improved, as we are," River Falls coach Jordan Giedd said. "They are a good, young team so it was a nice win. It came down to the last couple of matches. We had to come from behind after those forfeits."
Saturday at Barron, Nathan Kinneman won an individual title at 138 pounds and the Cats recorded three second place finished on their way to a third place team finish.
"Barron was a really good day," Giedd said. "We really improved in a lot of areas. Our focus all week was on the mat and we improved a lot. We had a lot more pins. A lot of guys finished matches with pins and we had a lot of come from behind pins and that helped our team score."
Menomonie Gold won the tourney title with 314.5 points followed by Clear Lake with 245.5 and River Falls with 210.
Radkey-Pechacek, Tierney and Larson reached the finals at 132, 170 and 182 pounds, respectively, before each finishing second while Matt Williamson placed third at 195 pounds and Lee took third at 285.
Burns finished fourth at 106 and Bystrom was fourth at 152 while Dartsch finished fifth at 160. Jacob Tepp scored seventh place points at 145 while Jack Bruns placed ninth at 220.
Giedd said he is pleased with the Cats' efforts two weeks into the season.
"I'm pretty happy overall," he said. "I think every single person on the team has improved from last year, and even the beginning of this year."
The Cats return to BRC action this Thursday, Dec. 13 at Eau Claire Memorial and will wrestle at Tartan (Minn.) on Friday.