By Brian Jerzak
What a great night of wrestling at Foley High School Friday night.
It is always a treat to watch the high-level guys compete up close and personal. The skill possessed by guys like Simley’s Cael Berg, Jake Gliva and Daniel Kerkvliet, Patrick McKee from St. Michael-Albertville and Mitch Trigg from Foley is always a treat.
In a quad with blue blood wrestling programs like Simley, STMA and Foley I came into the night not expecting to come away after the first pair of dual meets most impressed by the only unranked team in the Falcons’ gymnasium Friday night. Although Bemidji lost their opening dual against Simley, they put on a show for the fans.
Trailing 10-0 and then 17-5 the Lumberjacks used a string of bonus point victories together to take a six-point lead with two matches to go. When facing the Spartans however, having a lead late doesn’t mean much when Daniel Kerkvliet and Like Zaiser anchor the lineup. Both Spartans’ wrestlers did what was expected and put up 12 team points to win the dual 37-31.
A critical match that ended up looming large was 5th ranked (AA) Quayin Short’s victory over 9th ranked (AAA) Chance Hinrichs. Short built an early lead, but Hinrichs put Short on his back twice. Short was able to fight off his back both times, but now trailing he needed and got a late takedown to win the match. The six or nearly nine points swing set up the come from behind team victory.
On the other side of the gym, STMA sprinted out to a 21-0 lead over Foley and would go on to win 39-17. The final score was lopsided – yes – but a pair of close Knights’ victories early – Brandon Psyk with a late takedown for a come from behind win at 120, and Dylan Hanson’s overtime win at 138 helped build the lead.
On paper, it looked like the best match of the night and Simley versus STMA during the second round of duals. It did not disappoint. In a back and forth match it took the 8th criteria to decide the winner.
In early matchups of ranked wrestlers, Cael Berg turned a reverse of STMA’s Psyk into a fall for the Spartans. Two matches later STMA’s Patrick McKee – in the biggest one on one matchup of the night – defeated Jake Gliva 5-1. Gavin Nelson got Simley back on track with a tight 3-2 victory at 138.
Kyle Elkie’s late takedown at 138 gave the Knights yet another close win. Simley would return the favor when Quayin Short broke a 1-1 tie with a third period takedown and a 3-1 victory.
Simley had to forfeit at 195 and trailed by 12 with two matches to go. Kerkvliet wasted no time cutting the STMA lead to six with an early fall. Needing a pin for the tie, Zaiser had his man on his back three times. With a tech fall and a one-point team loss looming, the third time was the charm as Zaiser got the fall for the tie.
After about fifteen minutes of watching the officials, scorer’s table and coaches flip through the rulebook they got to the eighth criteria – most first points scored – giving the win to Simley.
Although the drama was not as gripping as Simley’s victory, Bemidji won a back and forth match against the host Falcons. A late takedown by John Dierkes for Foley tied the match at 15. In a 2-2 match, Foley’s Connor Thorsten came up with a fall for Foley to give the Falcons the lead.
Bemidji would come from behind with two straight falls from Peter Moen at 195 to take the lead and then the match clincher by Hunter Schoenborn a few minutes later.
During the final match-ups of the night, with STMA out in front of Bemidji big during the final pair of matches, once again the drama followed Simley. Back to back falls by Mark and John Dierkes put the Falcons up 22-19 after the 145 match. Simley’s Short countered with a major decision to give the Spartans a one-point lead. The lead was seven after Jacob Hageman pinned his man.
At 195 Travis Dohman came up from junior varsity to wrestle in a spot Simley had to forfeit because of injury the first two matches. Although he didn’t win, he only gave up three team points and kept the Spartans in the lead. Kerkvliet made it three for three – three matches, three first period falls to give the Spartans a seven-point lead. They needed all of that lead as Foley’s Mitch Trigg tallied his third win of the night and his 100th career victory with a first period fall to make the final score Simley 35 Foley 34.
STMA would finish off a great night of wrestling with a 42-21 victory over Bemidji.
The holiday season came a little early for central Minnesota wrestling fans. It was a great event and a great night of wrestling.