MANKATO — Trailing by 24 points, the Mankato East wrestling team staged a furious rally in the final three weights but it wasn’t quite enough. The result was a 39-33 loss to Austin in a Big Nine Conference meet at the East gym.
The Cougars’ problems came at the outset where they fell behind 21-6 in the first five matches. The only true bright spot in the lower weights was sophomore Eric Jaster who pinned Ben Nelson in 43 seconds at 120 pounds.
“We’re young, and we’re not very experienced down below,” East head coach Jon Dierks said. “That’s fine at 106 and 113, but then you start running into juniors and seniors and it gets a lot tougher.
“We’re solid in the middle and up top, but we usually have to dig ourselves out of a hole. We just have to keep working on it.”
Aside from Jaster, East’s other winners included Michael Miller by a 14-9 decision at 138 and Keanu Rodriguez by fall at 160. Rodriguez finished off his opponent in 5:24.
In the final three weights, Dan Perez (195), Ben Winans (220) and Logan Swanson (285) each delivered pins.
Winans had a slim lead in his bout against Eli Kaercher before turning him over for the fall in 5:18.
“In my previous matches I’ve been a lot more conservative,” Winans said. “Today, since the meet was already over, the coach told me to out and have fun and kind of cut loose.
“That’s what I did. It’s more fun to wrestle aggressively like that.”
In front of Winans, Perez had a fall in 2:20 over Pedro Ceballos. After Winans, East’s Swanson barely broke a sweat as he stuck Mitch Whalen in 48 seconds.
The loss moves the Cougars to 2-7 overall and 0-3 in the Big Nine. East is off until Jan. 9 when it travels to Owatonna to take on the fifth-ranked Huskies and Northfield in a triangular.