By Kelsie Hoitomt
HAMMOND — The Hilltopper wrestling team had one dual this past week, which was Thursday night on the road in Hammond against the St. Croix Central Panthers.
The Toppers may have lost 42-27, but despite forfeiting three weight classes, they remained positive over the fact that they won six out of the 11 other matches.
“I felt our kids showed great character and sportsmanship throughout the competition,” said coach Shane Strong. “They gave great effort and determination every match.”
The dual started at 160 pounds with Jake Logghe facing off against Kyle Larson. The match went the full six minutes and ended in a 3-0 decision that went in Larson’s favor.
The Panthers jumped out to an early lead with the next three matches resulting in team points for them.
Trent Smith received forfeit points for the Panthers at 170. Then Cody Gostovich pinned Logan Smith at 182. That left the 195 pound weight class open so the Panthers took forfeit points.
Five matches in, the Toppers earned their first points of the night with Hogan Chouinard on the mat for the 220 pound match against Decker Grass.
Chouinard was able to put Decker on his back, which was enough to give him a one-point edge that resulted in a final 3-2 decision. This point the score at 21-3 in Central’s favor.
Quinton Rogers wrestled at heavy weight in the next match and lost to Jake Conley by a fall in the second period.
At the top of the roster at 106 was Austin Curvello and Zeke Orme. Curvello put Orme on his back and then rode out the remainder of the time for a 4-0 lead that stuck until the buzzer rang.
The points went back to the Panthers’ side at the 113 match when Jake Nyhagen beat Jake Nadeau by an 11-4 decision.
Brad Kessler wrestled strong at 120, which resulted in the Toppers best decision win thus far. He earned three points for the team after beating Frank Holter by a 6-1 decision.
The Toppers then forfeited 126 before going on a pinning streak.
They finished strong with three of the four final matches ending in pins and 18 team points.
Marcus Ullom started at 132 and pinned Drew Malecek in the second period at 3:10.
Then Cody Bonte went head to head with Connor Burton. They fought for a while before Bonte gained the upper hand and put Burton on his back for the fall at 4:40.
At 145, Jake O’Meara faced off against Ray Gandy. Their match was a long drawn out bout as well, but nearly five minutes into it, O’Meara sunk the hold and got the pin.
The night ended with Ryan Gulich pinning Spencer Peterson, which put the final score at 42-27.
The Toppers faced off against Cameron on Tuesday, and will then face the Boyceville Bulldogs on Thursday night. That was their final conference dual before entering the Conference Tournament on Saturday, February 7, which will be held at the River Falls High School.