By Joe Tischler
Special to The Free Press
In order to beat Mankato West on Tuesday night, Mankato East’s wrestlers knew the middle of their lineup needed to step up big.
That’s what happened as the Cougars won five straight matches to help catapult them to a 48-33 win over the Scarlets as part of a Big Nine Conference wrestling triangular with Winona/Winona Cotter at the East gym.
The streak for the Cougars started when freshman Michael Miller pinned West’s Tyler Kopp at 132 pounds with 49 seconds left in the second period to give East an 18-12 lead in the dual.
At 145 pounds, senior Cole Mosher pinned the Scarlets’ Brandon Barenek 1:02 into his match.
“We (the middle weights) felt pretty confident in our ability,” Mosher said. “We went out there and got our pins and got our wins when we needed them. That gave us a whole confidence boost for the rest of the dual.”
Mosher’s teammate, Keanu Rodriguez, bested Sam Schwartz at 152 pounds. Dalton Nelson (138 pounds) and Cody Lorentz (160 pounds) won by forfeits. Those five straight victories from the middle weights gave East an insurmountable 42-12 lead.
“Those early matches, we knew we had to win and they came through,” said East coach Jon Dierks. “A lot of guys came through and got the bonus points when we needed them.”
Also for the Cougars, Colton Clapper pinned Jason Laven at 120 pounds, and Austin Westerlund (113 pounds) and Lincoln Benzkofer (220 pounds) won by forfeits.
For West, sophomore Charlie Dundas started the dual out with a late pin over Eric Jaster at 106 pounds. At 126 pounds, Russel Koenigs also had a third-period pin of his opponent Walker Pearson to even the dual at 12 points before East went on its streak.
Other winners for West included: Xavier Dahlgren with an 8-7 decision over Nick Makovsky at 170 pounds, Conor Wanderscheid with a pin of Lee Marxen at 182 pounds, Tyler Jakes with a quick pin of Ben Winans at 195 pounds and Jake Russel with a pin of Logan Swanson with eight seconds left in his match.
Both East and West defeated Winona/Winona Cotter in the other duals of the meet. The Cougars started the evening with a 43-27 win over the Winhawks, and the Scarlets came from behind to best Winona/Winona Cotter 40-37.
East next takes to the mat Thursday for a dual at Austin while West next competes Friday at New Prague as part of a triangular with Glencoe-Silver Lake/Lester Prairie.