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Ellsworth's Brody Kemmerer, left, and his teammates celebrate after Kemmerer pinned Prior Lake's Jerrod Chambers in 38 seconds to give the Panthers a 34-31 victory over the Lakers at Saturday's Swalla Duals in Kasson. Prior Lake would end up winning the tournament, with Kass-Mantorville and Ellsworth tying for second. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Wrestling: Ellsworth ties for second at Swalla Duals

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KASSON – After steamrolling through its second- and third-round duals by a combined 109-20 score, Ellsworth faced two of Minnesota’s top teams in No. 3 (Class 3A) Prior Lake and fifth-ranked, and defending Class 2A champion, Kasson-Mantorville.

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The way to two duals ended, as well as the finish to the Lakers/KoMets match, made for an entertaining Swalla Duals Saturday at K-M High School.

The Panthers fell behind in both championship-round duals, slipping to deficits of 13-0 against the Lakers, and 10-0 against the KoMets.

In what could be described as a midterm, Ellsworth rebounded to defeat the Lakers 34-31, but fell to the KoMets, 33-30.

“For team state, it’s a really healthy thing, just simple things like letting guys get ready in back, not being seen, how to approach a match. It’s totally different than when you approach it individually and you just have to worry about yourself,” said Ellsworth head coach Chad Steldt. “So, in that aspect, the last two weekends for us have been very efficient for us that way. They’ve been good.”

The rally against Prior Lake started with Jens Lantz, Ellsworth’s three-time defending state champion, and his dominating 19-7 major decision over Kenny O’Neill at 126 pounds.

At 132, Prior Lake’s Tyler Hanson pinned Riley Melstrom in 1 minute, 53 seconds but Braid Cain (138) responded and majored Wyatt Benson 11-0. Tristan Mueller took 58 seconds to pin his way to victory at 145, Josh Hines secured a 9-3 win at 152, Gable Frandsen eked out a 5-4 decision at 160 followed by Logan Kemmerer’s fall over Robby Schultz. Dennis Schutz closed the impressive stretch of wins with a 5-4 decision at 182.

That left the score in the Panthers’ favor, 29-19, with three weights remaining. And, combined, the final three bouts took less than three minutes.

Rylee Streifel and Alex Hart put the Lakers on top 31-28 with consecutive pins, as well as a one-point deduction for the Panthers for arguing with the official.

That left Brody Kemmerer, at 285, to win the dual.

And Brody responded by using all of 38 seconds to put Jerrod Chambers on his back for a 34-31 victory.

“Brody’s kind of coming back off an ankle injury, he’s working hard and kind of nursing that,” Steldt said. “He kind of fell into a nice toss there. It was good for him and good for the team.”

The excitement had to be tempered, however, as mere moments after celebrating a final-weight win, Ellsworth was back on the mat against K-M in rematch of a Dec. 14 dual won by the KoMets, 39-22.

It would not be as easy this time.

Anders (120) and Jens Lantz (126) got the Panthers on the board, and to within a point, with a 9-4 decision and a 49-second fall, respectively.

Ellsworth took and expanded a lead in similar fashion at 132 and 138 with Melstrom’s 5-2 victory, and a pin from Cain.

K-M came back at 145 with top-ranked Brady Berge, who earned five points with a 26-11 technical fall, and at 152, with Aaron Berge, a 9-4 decision that tied the dual 18-18.

The KoMets forfeited at 160, giving the Panthers a lead that grew to 12 with Logan Kemmerer and Schutz decisions. But K-M battled back with a fall at 195, and a controversial 3-2 decision that saw Kasson’s Bryce Seljan earn two-thirds of his points on stalling calls, much to the delight of the KoMets fans that were screaming for it.

“That’s the atmosphere that’s good for wrestling. I wish it would have ended differently, but I think we’ve got to get some guys doing some more offensive things, not being so defensive,” Steldt said.

“At 120, we had the same type of match, and we never saw any stalling calls,” Steldt continued. “Then, at the end of the dual, just because the fans got involved, we see a stalling call. A little immature reffing, a little inexperience, but it is what it is. Our guys still have to perform, it’s not an excuse. Our guy didn’t do anything offensive. It is what it is.”

That left Ellsworth with a 33-30 lead, and the nation’s No. 1 high school heavyweight on deck. Steldt chose to forfeit the match, giving the KoMets the dual victory.

Prior Lake ended up as tournament champion after the Lakers defeated K-M, 43-22. The three-team tie – Ellsworth, Prior Lake and K-M all went 1-1 in the championship bracket – was broken by a total of team points. Prior Lake totaled 73 points, while Ellsworth ended with 67 and K-M 58, though, officially, the Panthers and KoMets tied for second place.

The Panthers will take their No. 1 ranking in Wisconsin’s Division 2 into Thursday’s Middle Border Conference dual at No. 5 Amery.

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Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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