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Ellsworth goes 2-1 in 50th anniversary quad meet

ELLSWORTH - While the meeting between state wrestling champions Ellsworth and Apple Valley was the highlight of Saturday Ellsworth Quadrangular, it was not the most important dual meet of the day for the Panthers.

The most important contest was between the No. 3 ranked Panthers and a strong Tomah, Wis. squad. Ellsworth won 28-27 which meant they went 2-1 on a day that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Ellsworth program.

Ellsworth head coach Jack Radabaugh said he was proud to see his team win a meet they probably would not have won a month ago.

"No way we would have won this kind of meet back in December," Radabaugh said as the Panthers improve to 13-4 overall. "Actually we should have won by a bigger margin because we gave away three matches we should not have."

Indeed, it wouldn't have been quite the celebration of 50 years of Ellsworth wrestling if the Panthers did not go above .500 in their own quad meet. But obtaining such success is why they were able to celebrate their golden anniversary in the first place

Celebration of success

Tomah was able to win several matches in the lower weight to tie the Panthers at 15-15. Ellsworth was able to get key wins in the upper weights by Jerad Andrews at 160 pounds with a 20-7 major decision over Josh Von Haden, Jordan Borst at 171 with a 6-4 decision over Dustin Christner and Alex Hoyer at 215 with an 11-4 decision over Darrik Johnson.

"People are saying our upper weights are the weakest part of our team, but they've really improved and are really wrestling well now," Radabaugh said. "It was just like last year. Our upper weight came through us I think they will again."

Still, the Timberwolves made it too close for comfort as a pin at heavyweight brought them to within four points at 28-24. In the 103-pound match, Ellsworth's Sam Huppert was in a precarious spot, on his back and trying to fight off a pin attempt by Kevin Betthauser. Huppert managed to hold out for over a minute and avoided a pin that would have given Tomah the dual victory.

"Sam kept his shoulder up at a 90 degree angle so he wasn't in any immediate danger of getting pinned," Ellsworth assistant coach Keith Johnson said. "He did a great job of holding that position."

In doing so, Huppert helped Ellsworth have a winning record in the meet. Apple Valley was 3-0, Tomah 1-2 and River Falls was 0-3.

The Panthers beat their rivals River Falls by a 47-19 score and once again claimed Kirby's Shoe, the bronzed wrestling shoe that serves as a traveling trophy for both schools. The trophy's namesake, former Ellsworth High School Athletic Director, founder of the wrestling program and its first coach, Kirby Symes, looked on as he watched the Panthers win the shoe for the eighth straight time.

Picking up wins for Ellsworth against the Wildcats were Huppert by forfeit, Chace Kinneman by a 2:37 pin at 119, Dane Solyntjes by a 9-6 decision over Cam Loomis at 125, Joe Kornmann by a 9-7 decision after scoring a third period reversal over Andrew Johnson at 130, Hayden Hauschildt by a 1:11 pin at 135, Reuben Huppert by a 1:00 pinfall at 140, Jordan Zimmer by a 5:28 technical fall at 152, Andrews by forfeit at 160, Borst by 2:49 pin at 171 and Hoyer with a 10-7 win at 215.

However, the wins were few against Apple Valley as the Eagles won easily 61-6. Getting those wins were Kinneman at 119 as he decisioned Matt Kelliher 3-0 and McLay at 145 as he scored a takedown in the third period to beat the Eagles' Evan Gonzo 5-1.

"Beating someone from Apple Valley is a great honor and big boost to my confidence," Kinneman said.

Although Apple Valley's victory was quite decisive, Radabaugh hopes facing one of the best teams in the nation will pay off down the road, like another state champion to add to already impressive history that was celebrated by hundreds of former wrestlers, coaches and their families along with the Ellsworth community.