Close, but not quite

MARSHALL – Leading No. 19 Augustana 18-9 with just three bouts left in the dual, the Southwest Minnesota State University wrestling team had a chance to do something it had not done since the last millennium-beat the Vikings.

Unfortunately for the Mustangs (10-2 overall, 0-1 NSIC), Augustana would sweep the remaining matches to tie the dual at 18-18 and receive the victory on account of having won six of the 10 bouts.

Securing points in either the 197- or 285-pound bouts would’ve guaranteed a Mustang victory.

Instead, the nation’s fifth-ranked grappler at 197, Jayd Docken, took advantage of an ankle injury to SMSU’s Micah Larson on his way to an 8-3 decision. Brian Schultz followed with a 5-3 decision over Jon Gorter, a former Viking now clad in a brown and gold singlet.

Those two decisions forced the 18-18 tie while breaking a 4-4 tie in match victories to hand Augustana its 13th consecutive win over SMSU, a streak dating back to the 1998-99 season.

Although the Mustangs were defeated, the result proved encouraging as SMSU was effectively equal to the Vikings, while limiting two Top-5 wrestlers to narrow wins by decision.

“Well as a coach you’re never satisfied,” SMSU head coach Jesse Nelson said, “But obviously our guys went out, fought and got after it and put themselves in a position to win a dual that, we thought, we were going to have to win a couple matches that were unexpected.”

After TJ North put Augustana up 3-0 with a 3-0 decision over Travis Borchert, SMSU’s Justin Reinsma knotted the dual at 3 with a 5-1 decision at 133. Reinsma, ranked fifth nationally, was robbed of a chance to test his mettle against No. 7 Jeremiah Peterson. The potential Top-10 bout was something the SMSU coaching staff was eagerly anticipating, but were pleased with the three points Reinsma secured over replacement Brandon Chesnut.

“They had a backup in, so it wasn’t their guy, but we were kind of looking forward to that matchup but didn’t get it,” Nelson said. “But it was a good match.”

Augustana picked up consecutive decisions at 141 and 149 pounds before SMSU fired off three match wins in a row.

Codie Lane used a two-point takedown with just five seconds remaining in his 157-pound bout to earn a 6-4 decision over Shawn Hatlestad. Then the Begins scored consecutive first period falls to give the Mustangs an 18-9 lead.

Jacob Begin pined Parker Swanson two minutes, 32 seconds into their 165-pound match, while Kyle Begin followed up his brother with a pin of Tim Weber at 2:50.

“Both those guys are dangerous individuals,” Nelson said of the Begins. “They’re both tough and what a rush it’s got to be to be able to wrestle with your older brother, especially in back-to-back weights. (They) put our team in a situation to win a dual that we knew was going to be tough to win in the first place. Those kids are great kids, all our kids are great kids and I just want to keep seeing them battle.”

Sean Derry ended the Mustang run with a 7-3 decision over Travis Peralta at 184, while setting the foundation for the Viking comeback.

The Mustangs will hope to use their defeat by the narrowest of margins as both a confidence boost and a catalyst for their seven remaining duals.

“We’ve got to wrestle like that week in, week out and maybe better,” Nelson said. “We’ve just got to improve on that. Our guys can’t be satisfied and we’ve got to realize that we can’t take a back seat to these teams. We’re just as capable of winning duals. We should have some confidence going into it and feel good about where we’re at.”

SMSU is back on the mat on Friday for a road dual with the Northern State Wolves in Aberdeen, S.D.