It’s another Mississippi 8 Conference title for the Becker Bulldog wrestling team, as they defeated their final two conference opponents last week to claim the hardware.
“This team winning the conference title is not something we take for granted,” Coach Travis Holt said. “Overcoming illness and injury throughout the whole season has been a battle. This is a true testament of how willing each individual is to rise to the occasion week after week.”
After defeating Big Lake in a Thursday evening dual (see Ken Francis’ story), the Bulldogs went into Friday night needing a win over St. Francis to finish undefeated in the M8 Conference.
This match was extremely close through the 182 pound weight class, as neither team led by more than six points during the first 11 individual matches. There were five team lead changes and one tie score during that span until Becker used three straight wins in the top weights to score the 37-20 win over the Saints.
Becker’s first two wins were decisions, 6-1 by Boston Kuschel at 106 and 6-4 by Kaden Nicolas at 126. Landen Kujawa then picked up a forfeit for the Bulldogs, who led 12-9 before losing the next match to again fall behind.
At 145, Jake Rosenow gave the Bulldogs the 15-13 lead as he scored a 5-3 decision before Ethan Duncombe scored a 14-2 Maj. Dec. at 152 and a 19-13 lead.
Adam Jurek wrestled up a weight class at 170 and won a key decision, 10-9, for a 22-17 Becker lead, but again St. Francis came back with a win at the next weight to trail by just two points.
“Many wrestlers have been competing above their preferred weight class because they continue to have the ‘team first’ mentality,” Holt said. “The coaching staff is proud to see the effort and competitiveness from these young men.”
At 195 pounds, Tyson Ricker pinned his man in under a minute and Becker finally had breathing room, 28-20. Dylan Kolby then scored a fall of his own in the first period at 220, followed by a Lance Lysdal decision at 285 and the Bulldogs triumphed 37-20 to secure the perfect conference record.
The Bulldogs opened Friday’s triangular with a convincing 76-3 win over non conference opponent Sauk Rapids-Rice.
Becker used eight forfeits victories and four pinfalls to quell the Storm.
Picking up forfeit wins for Becker were Bennett Kujawa, Tyler Hall, Landen Kujawa, Jake Rosenow, Adam Jurek, Dylan Weber, Aiden Golley and Dylan Kolby.
Pinfalls were recorded by Blayne Kuschel (4:27 at 113), Drew May (1:51 at 138), Owen Angell (:59 at 160) and Tyson Ricker (1:32 at 220). Ethan Duncombe scored an 11-0 major decision at 152 to round out the scoring. With the wins, Becker pushed its record to 17-3 on the season.
They are currently ranked #3 in the state, and will finish up the final week of the regular season with a triangular at STMA, hosting a Tri against Rocori and Foley and a tournament in Albany before looking towards the individual sections to be held in Becker Feb. 24-25.
“Moving forward, our team continues to keep our focus on preparing for post season success,” Holt added. “Our conference championship is a great achievement, but the hard work must continue as we look to complete our season goals.”
The Bulldogs also had a fine showing last weekend at the ninth grade state wrestling sections, with three Becker wrestlers qualifying for the state tournament. Representing the Bulldogs in the ninth grade wrestling championships will be Jacob Williams, Boston Kuschel and Aiden Golley.
For the varsity wrestlers, several Bulldogs secured important milestones over the past few weeks. Adam Jurek secured his 125th varsity win, while Kaden Nicolas recorded his 100th win. Against Big Lake, Tyson Ricker recorded his 100th career win.