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Wrestlers light things up

River Falls senior Glen Pendleton has the advantage over Menomonie's Jacob Haviland in the 182 pound match during the Wildcats' Big Rivers Conference dual with the Mustangs Thursday, Dec. 7. Pendleton posted a 10-5 decision to cut Menomonie's lead to 18-9 and the Wildcats outscored the Mustangs 42-6 over the final nine matches to post a 51-24 victory. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
River Falls junior Nathan Fuller gets Menomonie's Hunter Deutsch off his feet before pinning him in 1 minute, 41 seconds in the 152-pound bout in the Wildcats' 51-24 Big Rivers Conference victory over the Mustangs Thursday, Dec. 7, in River Falls. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The Wildcat wrestling team put the hammer down against Menomonie Thursday, Dec. 7, storming back from a 24-12 deficit to post a 51-24 victory for its first Big Rivers Conference win of the season.

Adding to the excitement of the win was a full crowd at the high school for alumni night, with the Wildcats wearing throwback singlets and a chance to honor longtime supporter Justin Bystrom, who died while attending the WIAA State Meet last February.

"It's pretty neat to have so many kids in our line-up who have parents that were involved in the wrestling program when they were in high school," head coach Kevin Black said. "I think we did a great job connecting with the alumni who were in the crowd. The throwback singlets, the hustle and excitement, definitely brought me back to the 90's when I wore the River Falls singlet. I'm sure those from the 60's, 70's and 80's had similar feelings. Being able to honor Justin was really special for all of us, too. I know for sure he would have been tickled pink on Thursday night."

The Cats started slowly with their only wins in the first six matches coming from a pin by Nathan Fuller at 152 pounds and decisions from Glen Pendleton and Chance Kamrowski at 182 and 195.

After Mitchell Williamson posted a pin at 285, the rest of the night belonged to the Wildcats and their fans, starting with freshman Ethan Cernohous earning his first varsity win with a 16-8 major decision at 106 pounds.

"I had a lot of fun matside during Ethan Cernohous' match," Black said. "I love when kids put everything on the line and go after it. Fortunately, Ethan matched up with another freshman who was his size and he got his first career win. It was the turning point of the match because it lit the fire of passion that we missed last week."

After picking up a forfeit at 113 pounds, Bennet Cernohous earned a 19-3 technical fall at 120 and Michael Rebozo and Cooper Andrea posted back-to-back pins at 126 and 132 before another Menomonie forfeit made the final 51-24.

"We had a slow start, but our little guys created quite a stir and the crowd really got into the dual," Black noted.

Pendleton went on to go 4-0 Saturday at the Park-Cottage Grove duals to cap off a 5-0 week while Fuller, Williamson and Rebozo were also undefeated on the day.

"We did alright on Saturday," Black said. "Throughout the day we started to move towards the team we're trying to become this year. Definitely had more fight in us as the day progressed. There is still a lot of room for growth, though. We have to get better in certain areas on the mat. We need to improve most in being offensive and aggressive and bringing the fight to our opponents rather than reacting or responding to what they're doing."

The Wildcats will travel to Rice Lake for a BRC dual Thursday, Dec. 14 before competing in the Osceola Invitational Saturday, Dec. 16.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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