Every team has a rival that gets under their skin and they can never coexist. Thus, it causes tensions to rise and tempers to flare no matter the sport. This is the case for Minnesota State’s wrestling team after falling to No. 9 Upper Iowa last Friday. The regular season ends for the Mavs with a record of 5-7 and a four-game losing skid.
Entering the match-up would be a surreal feeling for the Mavs, with it being senior night. MSU seniors Dylan Butts, Gavin Christoffersen, Brock Luthens, Darrell Mason, Brody Nielsen, and Max Villnow all suited up one final time at home. While they will be in action at next week’s Super Region Tournament, the fans at the Taylor Center honored them one last time for all they have gone through.
The opening match was MSU freshman Kole Marko taking on the No. 2 165 Ibs wrestler, Chase Lueherman. While Marko gave Lueherman a tough fight, he lost the decision to give the Peacocks a 3-0 lead. However, the Mavs turned it around after MSU junior Mike Smith defeated UIU junior Scott Kellenberger to tie the match at three apiece.
The third match of the evening was the climax of the matchup, between MSU senior Brody Nielsen and UIU junior Colter Bye. Halfway through, a controversial hold and an eye poke to Bye from Nielsen delayed the match. After a whistle, Bye threw a leg kick at Nielsen but missed. It was then followed by an irate Coach Grimm throwing the challenge after it looked like Nielsen was being pinned, but not counted. While Nielsen went on to win the match, he was very frustrated afterward.
“I originally weighed in a bit lighter at 174 instead of my usual 184, so I made the choice to move up a class. The kid came ready to brawl and I didn’t understand what was happening with the stops. The only thing I did know was the leg kick got me heated and was bush league,” said Nielsen.
Following their intense matchup, things started to simmer down for both teams. It got worse for the matches as MSU sophomore Tommy Johnson, senior Max Villanow, freshman Isaiah Mlsna, and senior Brock Luthens lost their matches. This put the Mavs in another massive hole as the Peacocks led 21-6.
Entering the final two matches, freshman Caleb Meunier and sophomore Drake Hayward made sure that they ended on a positive note. Both men were able to pick up wins in their matches to end with a final score of 21-14. After the match, Nielsen gave one final remark as he and the other stepped off the mats one last time.
“I am really soaking it all in, enjoying it with my family, coaches, and teammates. Knowing that this is the end is tough, but I am just thankful for the journey. All the hard work and memories will be what I hold onto long after I am gone,” said Nielsen.
Write to Charlie Groebner at Charles.Groebner@mnsu.edu
Header Photo: MSU’s Wrestling team concludes their regular season with a 21-14 loss against Upper Iowa. Nearly a third of the team are seniors, making the most out of their final duals of their college career. (Dylan Engel)