Mounds View wrestling in line for a conference title

When the Mounds View High School wrestling team ventures to Roseville on Friday for a dual match, there will be plenty on the line. It'll be for more than just rivalry bragging rights and momentum as the post-season approaches.

Mounds View enters the match with only one dual loss in Suburban East Conference matches. Two other teams in the SEC also have one loss each so the Mustangs will wrestle the Raiders with a share of the conference title at stake.

"Roseville is a pretty good team so we have to be dialed in and ready to go," said Mounds View head coach Dan Engebretson.

The Mustangs put themselves in this position by pulling out a solid victory last week over Forest Lake, which entered the Jan. 21 match unbeaten in conference matches.

Mounds View won eight of the 14 bouts against the Rangers and gave up bonus points in only one of the losses.

"We only gave up one set of bonus points the whole match," Engebretson said. "That's how you win those duals."

The two teams split the first eight matches and Mounds View trailed at that point 15-14. The Mustangs then built a nine-point lead by winning the next three bouts but saw Forest Lake pull within six points with an overtime victory at 195 pounds.

Mounds View then clinched the dual victory as junior Johnny Tereault recorded a fall at 220 pounds. Tereault trailed most of the match and was down by three points in third period before scoring a takedown and completing the pin with one second left.

The third-period rally was something that the Mustangs have been focusing on this season.

"The kids are working hard at that third period," Engebretson said. "They're starting to get confidence that they can compete in the third period."

Mounds View got the night off to a solid start when fifth-ranked Nick Dunagan opened the match with a fall at 106 pounds. Dunagun finished off Forest Lake's Derrick Cardinal in only 32 seconds.

Forest Lake took the next two matches before Mounds View junior Sam Bobick stopped the bleeding with a 5-0 decision. Forest Lake took the 132-pound bout but Mounds View followed with a pair of victories thanks to a little lineup tinkering. 

Senior Tanner Day is ranked third in the state at 132 pounds but was penciled in to wrestle at 138 against Forest Lake. Engebretson switched things up, however, and sent senior Seth McDougall out at 138 and held Day back to compete at 145.

The tactic worked as McDougal scored a third-period takedown to break a 1-1 tie and held on to win 3-1. Day used a pair of fall points in the second period and a third-period escape to win 3-0. Those two wins vaulted Mounds View into the lead 14-12.

Forest Lake rebounded at 152 but then the Mustangs went on a three-match tear to take the lead for good. Senior Benji Keillor posted a major decision (18-5) at 160, freshman Rowan Morgan pulled off an upset at 170 and senior Andrew Bjorklund won 7-1 at 182.

Morgan faced Forest Lake senior Nic Norem, who is ranked eighth and went toe-to-toe with the senior. The match was tied 3-3 after one period and Morgan led 4-3 after two. Norem went ahead with a reversal in the third but Morgan rallied with a reversal of his own and three fall points to take the bout 9-5.

The Rangers staved off elimination by pulling out a 6-4 victory in overtime at 195 but they were just delaying the inevitable thanks to Tereault's win at 220.

"That was fun," said Engebretson. "They beat up on us last year so it's nice to come out and wrestle. The boys competed up and down the lineup. That was huge."

After Roseville, Mounds View takes part in a multi-team event at Robbinsdale Armstrong on Jan. 30 and closes out the regular season with a home dual against Centennial on Feb. 4. Engebretson said that the outcome of that match might determine the No. 1 seed in the Section 4AAA tournament.

"They're coming here and they're going to be fired up," Engebretson said of Centennial. "They're a dang good team."

Centennial is ranked 12th in the Class AAA team standings.

As for his own team, Engebretson likes how far it has come this season.

"We're a little bit ahead of where we thought we'd be," said Engebretson. "We're still really young with three freshmen and an eighth grader on varsity. The kids are really responding to what we're pushing them to and now they're starting to believe. Every one of them thinks they're going to win every match they wrestle, no matter who they're wrestling."

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

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