They did it.
But it wasn’t easy.
The Blue Earth Area Buccaneer wrestling team took the Big South Conference championship on Friday night, Feb. 10, in Blue Earth.
The Bucs, ranked at No. 10 in Class A, and the BSC East Division champs, had to come from behind for a 34-23 victory over the West Division Worthington Trojans.
The Trojans are ranked in the honorable mention list in Class AA.
Buccaneer coach Randy Wirtjes shook things up a bit, shifting around his lineup. In fact, nine of the 14 matches had Buccaneers wrestling in weight classes that were not their normal spots.
“We knew they were tough in the upper weights, from 170 up, and we knew we also had to squeak in two or three wins in the lower weights,” coach Wirtjes said. “So, we moved some guys up and switched some in the lower weights.”
Another major factor, according the Buccaneer coach, was that the team stayed off their backs.
Worthington only managed one win by a fall all night.
Here is how it went.
Davis Sunken suffered a 10-5 loss to Erik Artiga at 106 pounds, giving the Trojans a 3-0 start.
BEA bounced back and took the lead at 4-3 when Max Ehrich scored a 9-1 major decision over Damon Schultz at 113 pounds.
But, the lead was short-lived and the Bucs would not get it back until six matches later.
Koby Nagel lost a 14-4 major decision to Class AA No. 5 ranked Jacob Prunty at 120 pounds, but he worked hard to avoid getting pinned. At 126, Caden Ochsendorf also avoided a pin but lost a 14-7 against Lay K Paw, and BEA trailed 10-4.
Joe Schavey gave the Bucs three team points with a 5-2 win over Alex Magana at 132 pounds, cutting the deficit to 10-7.
BEA’s usual 132-pounder, Jaxen Klinkner, moved up to 138 and lost a 17-7 major decision to Ethan Pavelko. But, Dalton Nagel, up from his usual 138 spot scored a 13-8 victory over Brayden Donkersloot at 145.
And, when Cole Klinkner, wrestling at 152 pounds instead of 145 (where he is ranked No. 6 in Class A) pinned Preston Anderson, the Bucs finally gained back the lead at 16-14.
They would never relinquish it again.
Class A No. 3-ranked (at 152 pounds) Zach Buseman gave BEA six more team points when he pinned Jacob Neuberger at 160 pounds. Wyatt Tungland added a 10-6 win over Mason Byrne at 170 pounds and BEA had a big 25-14 lead.
At 182 pounds Isaac Martinez came in (instead of the usual Buc wrestler at that weight, Jesus Quintero) and was pinned by Vince Riley, ranked at No. 7 in Class AA.
Quintero, moved up to the 195 spot, pinned Marcos Herrara, right at the buzzer of the second period.
BEA was ahead 31-20, with two weights left.
Class A No. 5-ranked Jared Armon sealed the win with a 5-3 decision at 220 pounds over Brandon Kempema.
The Bucs’ Trevor Oppedal lost a hard-fought 9-3 decision to Class AA No. 9-ranked Nic Putnam at 285 pounds, putting the final score at 34-23.
“Dalton (Nagel) got a big win for us at 145, and Cole Klinkner’s big pin at 152 was key,” Wirtjes said. “Everybody did what they had to do. One of our goals was to get here (conference championship match) and to win the conference. It was a real team effort, by everyone.”