MANKATO — The growing pains continued for the Minnesota State wrestling team Thursday, as the Mavericks dropped a 24-16 NSIC decision to Minnesota State-Moorhead at Bresnan Arena.
As has been the pattern for much of the season, the young Mavericks struggled in the lower weights. MSU fell behind 12-0 after two bouts and trailed 15-3 after four.
At 157 pounds, freshman Adam Cooling, who has been won of the bright spots for the team, came through. Cooling took on Dan Murakami and delivered a 5-1 decision to improve his record to 19-5.
The product of the Madelia/Truman program is neither surprised nor satisfied with how he has done his rookie season.
“I really didn’t know what to expect coming in as a freshman,” Cooling said. “I knew the guys would be more physical and mentally tougher, and those are two things I’ve tried to work on.
“My only expectation this year was to keep getting better. We have great coaches here and the more I learn the better I’m going to be.”
Teammate Sawyer Hoffman followed with a 7-3 decision at 165 pounds to close the gap in the team score to 15-9. The comeback hopes faded at 174, however, as Conner Monk caught freshman Darick Vancura right away and delivered a pin in 37 seconds.
Vancura was 22-7 going into the bout, and the Mavericks were counting on a win from him.
“We didn’t expect that, but that’s wrestling,” MSU assistant coach Mark Harwood said. “Darick has been working hard and doing everything we’ve asked of him, but sometimes things happen and you just have to deal with it and move on. We’ll look at the tape and see what we can fix.”
The showcase bout of the dual came at 184 pounds where 20-match winner Scott VanDeLoo of MSU took on 21-match winner Matt Lewellen of Moorhead. The two were close all the way until Lewellen finished with a 3-1 lead at the final buzzer.
The win clinched the meet for Moorhead. The Mavericks’ Brendan Eichmann (197 pounds) and Corby Running (285) finished with wins to make the final score more respectable.
Harwood liked the way the team’s upperclassmen wrestled hard during the meet and said that’s something the younger guys are still working on. He doesn’t think inexperience should be an excuse for losing
“I don’t buy that,” he said. “This is one of the best Division II programs in the country. We have great facilities and great tradition, and we expect excellence.
“Everyone of these young guys (on our team) has wrestled at a high level before. We expect them to do the same now.”
The other winner for the Mavericks Thursday was Alphonso Vruno at 141 pounds. Running’s 11-3 major decision at heavyweight was the only bonus-point match for the Mavericks.
Minnesota State (2-5, 2-1 in NSIC) is back in action on Saturday, Jan. 25, when it hosts Augustana in another conference dual at Bresnan Arena.