Pirates can't hang on against defending section champ BGMR, beat Park Rapids
It was all there for the Pirates' taking.
The Crookston wrestling team had won five of the first six matches against No. 12 Badger/Greenbush-Middle River to take a 23-6 lead. With the dual just about halfway over, all the Pirates needed to do was withstand the Gators for the rest of the match.
But the two-time defending Section 8A champions weren't about to go down quietly.
With an 11-1 major decision at 152 pounds seemingly in hand, Cameron Weiland went for a takedown late in the third period. But Brogan Beito rolled through it and came out of nowhere to pin the Crookston senior to the canvas with just 12 seconds left in the match, sending the Gators and their fans into a frenzy.
Maybe Beito's win could be described as a microcosm of the dual between two of the northwest Minnesota's best teams. At the very least, it appeared to be a turning point of sorts. BGMR (7-1) won six of the last eight matches to earn a come-from-behind, 42-35 win over the Pirates (9-3) Thursday night at CHS.
"This was one that was within our grasp," said Crookston coach Wes Hanson. "And it slipped away."
Crookston's lower weights have been a big strength to start the season — as a team, the Pirates were 43-6 combined from 106 pounds to 132 pounds entering Thursday. The same was the case against BGMR.
Nolan Dans (Sr.) had little trouble at 113 pounds, winning by fall in the first period. Carter Coauette (Fr.) had a more difficult test, matched up against Jaxon Janousek at 120 pounds. It was a rematch of last season's true second bout at the Section 8A Individual Championships, in which Coauette beat Janousek to punch his ticket to the state tournament.
This time, Coauette took down Janousek near the end of the first period and scored another takedown in the second period. From there, he merely held on, staying on his feet in the final seconds of the third to clinch a 4-3 win by decision.
Ethan Bowman (Fr.) and Bode DeZelar were locked in a close match at 126 pounds before Bowman broke it open late in the second period, pouncing on top of his Gator opponent and scoring a near fall for a 7-2 lead. DeZelar could only hang on for another minute before being pinned.
Big, momentum-shifting scoring moves near the end of periods were a theme in Crookston's early success. Zach Brown (Sr.) had a near-fall in the final seconds of the first period on his way to winning at 132 pounds via technical fall. The 138-pound match between Braxton Volker and Tony Olson was scoreless until late in the second period, when the Pirate sophomore escaped Olson's hold. Volker then put Olson in a solid hold of his own for most of the third period, winning 5-0.
"Good wrestlers finish periods in the top position, whether that be scoring a takedown or getting a reversal," Hanson said. "If you can finish periods in the top position good things are gonna happen. We were able to do that in a lot of those matchups, and that's something that we strive to do. I thought our guys moved guys well and tried to build up leads, and then score the pins when they presented themselves."
While the Pirates didn't have much trouble scoring pins in those situations, they struggled to avoid them all night long. All six of BGMR's victories after 138 pounds came by fall, and of those six, only Beito's took longer than one period.
"We weren't able to weather the storm," Hanson said. "When they're putting up 42 points on the board, it's tough to beat them."
Cade Coauette (Sr.) pinned Damien Tuura at 160 pounds and Ethan Boll (So.) did the same to Dawson Beito at 220 pounds to keep Crookston alive. But with his team trailing 36-35, Greg Gonzalez stepped onto the mat at heavyweight with a gargantuan challenge facing him: two-time state champion Dominik Vacura. Vacura made short work of the Pirate senior, pinning him in just 25 seconds to seal the match.
Shades of last season's dual between the Pirates and the Gators in Greenbush were on display Thursday. After Crookston took a 28-3 lead, BGMR rallied with its heavier weights to win, 39-34. In that dual, the Gators won by pin or forfeit in all but one match after 145 pounds.
It's easy to think about what might have been if one more match had gone Crookston's way in either of those matches. Thursday would have been a statement win; a confidence-booster in every sense and a sign beyond all doubt that the Pirates were ready for the big stage.
But after the loss, Hanson was looking ahead. He thinks he might look to get some wrestlers in different matchups if Crookston and BGMR square off again. He hopes the Pirates can use the narrow loss as motivation, as in "hey, you're there, but we didn't close the deal."
And maybe, the knowledge that they are there could turn out to be a confidence booster on par with a win.
"It's pretty cool to have good dual matchups like this and learn from them, and I think we learned from things tonight," Hanson said. "... We just have to go back to the drawing board, work harder and see where that takes us."
CROOKSTON VS. PARK RAPIDS RECAP
The first dual of Thursday's triangular seemed to be more of an opening act for the night's main event. Crookston handled Park Rapids, 69-12, losing only one match by pin and another by forfeit.
The Pirates racked up seven pins, all of them coming in the first period of their respective matches.
"Our guys did a good job in the neutral position, really moving their opponents and trying to get different angles and looks and scoring points from your feet," Hanson said. "That's something we pride ourselves on."
UP NEXT: The Pirates are off until Thursday, Feb. 4, when they travel to Barnesville for a triangular with the host Trojans and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
"We've got tough competition ahead, and we've gotta keep getting better as a dual team," Hanson said. "There's a difference between having good wrestlers and winning duals, so we gotta make sure that we're giving ourselves opportunities. Just being gritty and not giving up any of those bonus points."
CROOKSTON VS. PARK RAPIDS
- 106 pounds: Isaac Jensen (Park Rapids) win by forfeit
- 113 pounds: Nolan Dans (Crookston) win by forfeit
- 120 pounds: Carter Coauette (Crookston) over Eli Burton (fall 1:28)
- 126 pounds: Ethan Bowman (Crookston) over Matt Dahring (fall 1:09)
- 132 pounds: Zach Brown (Crookston) over Jarrett Galzki (fall 1:15)
- 138 pounds: Braxton Volker (Crookston) over Henry Thorson (fall 0:33)
- 145 pounds: Lucas Kritzeck (Park Rapids) over Cameron Weiland (fall 5:53)
- 152 pounds: Spencer Ness (Crookston) over Zach Paurus (dec. 5-1)
- 160 pounds: Cade Coauette (Crookston) win by forfeit
- 170 pounds: Hunter Knutson (Crookston) win by forfeit
- 182 pounds: Cade DeLeon (Crookston) win by forfeit
- 195 pounds: Ethan Boll (Crookston) over Tristan Hill (fall 1:12)
- 220 pounds: Hunter Kresl (Crookston) over Dandre Johnson (fall 1:57)
- 285 pounds: Greg Gonzalez (Crookston) over Isaac Knapp (fall 0:47)
CROOKSTON VS. BADGER/GREENBUSH-MIDDLE RIVER
- 106 pounds: Emmitt Isane (BGMR) win by forfeit
- 113 pounds: Nolan Dans (Crookston) over Elliott Isane (fall 1:53)
- 120 pounds: Carter Coauette (Crookston) over Jaxon Janousek (dec. 4-3)
- 126 pounds: Ethan Bowman (Crookston) over Bode DeZelar (fall 4:58)
- 132 pounds: Zach Brown (Crookston) over Danyn Janousek (tech. fall 4:46)
- 138 pounds: Braxton Volker (Crookston) over Tony Olson (dec. 5-0)
- 145 pounds: Garrett Undeberg (BGMR) over Casey Weiland (fall 1:07)
- 152 pounds: Brogan Beito (BGMR) over Cameron Weiland (fall 5:48)
- 160 pounds: Cade Coauette (Crookston) over Damien Tuura (fall 1:34)
- 170 pounds: Ethan Waage (BGMR) over Hunter Knutson (fall 1:56)
- 182 pounds: Caleb Vacura (BGMR) over Cade DeLeon (fall 0:53)
- 195 pounds: Nathan Waage (BGMR) over Layten Fuentes (fall 1:14)
- 220 pounds: Ethan Boll (Crookston) over Dawson Beito (fall 1:00)
- 285 pounds: Dominik Vacura (BGMR) over Greg Gonzalez (fall 0:25)
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