By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Mankato West senior Xavier Dahlgren was pretty happy after his 170-pound wrestling match Thursday, and it had little to do with his win by fall.
Dahlgren was glad because he’s finally feeling healthy. After limping through the first part of the season with an assortment of injuries, Dahlgren is at full strength.
“It feels good; the (holiday) break did wonders for me,” he said. “I hurt my knee and an ankle on our second outing of the season, and they bothered me up through our last meet just before Christmas.”
Although Dahlgren looked good at the West gym Thursday, earning a pin in 1:31 against Zach Nelson, it wasn’t enough to bring the Scarlets a victory. Austin took advantage of four falls and three forfeits to earn a 44-33 Big Nine Conference victory.
Now that he’s healthy, Dahlgren has very specific goals. He wants to finish with a winning record, and he’d like to get to 75 career wins.
“It’s going to be tough to get to 75 because I’m still 38 wins away,” he said. “But it’s something to shoot for.”
Dahlgren hopes to finish high in the section and qualify for state.
“I want to get to state and just go as far as I can,” he said. “That would be a great way to end my senior season.”
Thursday’s meet started strong for West, as sophomore Charlie Dundas (106 pounds) and Noah Lowe (113) both recorded pins in the opening minute. But the Packers came right back to tie the score, getting a fall in :55 from Erick Power at 120 pounds and win by forfeit at 126.
After the Scarlets (3-2, 1-1 in Big Nine) took a 15-12 advantage with a 10-7 victory by Russell Koenigs at 132, Austin reeled off four straight wins to take the lead for good. A pin in 28 seconds by Devon Felten (138), a tech fall by Riley Grinstead (152) and a pin in 14 seconds by Kole Igou (160) were sandwiched around another forfeit victory at 145 to give Austin a 38-12 lead.
“We’re still a little banged up,” West coach Dustin Buttell said. “Carter Burroughs is still out, and he should be back in a couple of weeks. Aaron Wall is still not quite ready yet (at 152), and it doesn’t look like Evan (Jakes) is going to be able to make it back this year from his knee injury.
“If we can get a full lineup, we can be a lot more competitive. We just have to be patient and keep the guys working hard.”