Late pin helps Titan wresters beat Holmen

(Times photograph by Zac Bellman)

A battle of two of the area’s top wrestling programs lived up to the billing as Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro hosted Holmen at G-E-T last Tuesday.

The match came down to the final class as a narrowly-avoided pin by a freshman Titan made the difference in a 34-31 win.

G/M earned their 13th win in duals to improve to 13-6 on the season. The contest also served as the final tune-up for the Coulee Conference tournament held Saturday at Black River Falls (see story elsewhere in sports).

G/M 34 Holmen 31

Needing a pin to force a tie, Holmen’s Parker Kratochvill (106) gave G/M’s Carson Koss all he could handle. At least three separate times Koss was on the verge of surrendering a match-tying pin. G/M coach Pete Peterson summarized what he saw from the freshman in a single word: 

“Guts,” Peterson said. “You could tell he was in a position, he was hurt, he was on his back and he just fought off it three different times. It was guts, by a freshman, which is impressive.”

Koss ended up taking the 12-5 loss, but by limiting the damage he secured the team win in a performance lauded by appreciative teammates who congratulated him after the match.

“We talked about it all week, it came down to bonus points. Getting pins and not giving them up,” Peterson said. “We had four pins, they had two. That was the deciding factor tonight, so the kids showed up.”

Just under 12 miles separate two of the most dominant wrestling programs in the state, as the then seventh-ranked Division One Vikings traveled north to take on the then fourth-ranked Division Two Titans in a packed Russ Lund Gymnasium last Tuesday. 

The night was also a celebration of the G/M program’s present and future, as seniors and youth participants each received recognition prior to the opening match. Ironically, it was one of the younger members of their present that secured the win in a meet that came down to the final class.

Holmen put a damper on the fanfare early, jumping ahead 11-0 on a pin by Sam Smith (113) and a 15-0 tech fall win by Alex Pellowski (120). G/M got on the board on the first of three one-point contests on the night as Randon Rommel (126) won 10-9 over Andrew Weiss. 

The Vikings responded with an 11-3 win by Branson Beers (132) to pull away to 15-3, before Sam Johnson (138) edged Tyler Jahn 2-1 by ultimate tie breaker. Bryce Blaken (145) followed with a pin of Kyle Gerold —the 100th win of his career — before Carter Vetsch (152) earned a 10-2 win to make it 19-12. 

The Titans won the next three classes as Jaden Anderson (160) won 13-0 over Dylan Liethen, Hunter Andersen (170) pinned Armandin Ranaivoson and Jacob Summers (182) pinned Samuel Barnett to give G/M the 28-19 lead. 

Two of the best in the state squared off to follow, as the then second-ranked division two wrestler in his class Bryce Burns (195) sparred with then third-ranked Drake Schams. Burns led 4-3 late in the third period, but a takedown by Schams late in the third period with less than 20 seconds remaining flipped the script and drew Holmen within a pin of re-tying the match.

That would be exactly what they would get to follow, as Adam Quam (220) came through for the Vikings with a match-tying submission. Reigning state-qualifier Trevor Daffinson (285) put the pressure on the Vikings in the penultimate class, pinning Kaden Banks to retake the 34-28 lead. 

Koss was then able to fight off a pin several times to secure the win for the Titans.

Peterson added that the atmosphere created by passionate fans on both sides was fun, while suggesting the energy transferred to the Titan wrestlers.

“Hopefully that continues into conference and on to regionals, this team is ready to rock.”


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