Evansville/Albany advances to state team wresting meet
Ryan Meehan and the Evansville/Albany wrestling team made history Tuesday night.
With a state team tournament berth on the line, Meehan pinned Aaron Broer of West Salem/Bangor in the 285-pound class to lift the Blue Devils to a 38-30 win and the Division 2 Wisconsin Dells Sectional team title.
Evansville/Albany qualfied for the state team tournament for the first time in program history and will wrestle top-ranked Ellsworth in a semifinal match on Saturday, March 8 at 10 a.m. at the UW Fieldhouse in Madison.
The Blue Devils, who beat Lodi 31-30 in a semifinal match, trailed West Salem/Bangor 30-25 before rallying behind wins in the last three weight classes. Lucius Rinehart cut the deficit to 30-28 with a 2-0 win at 195, and the Blue Devils’ Dustin Bjugstad followed with a 12-1 major decision at 220 to give his team a 32-30 lead. That set up Meehan’s heroics at 285. The junior took bottom for the start of the third period in a match that was tied 2-2. He caught Broer’s arm when he came in too deep on a move, put him on his back and got the pin at 4:29 to set off a wild celebration on the Evansville/Albany bench.
“This team’s been doing that all season and tonight was no different,” Evansville/Albany coach Rob Kostroun said. “Our message to this group coming in to tonight was that we were going to put our best 14 out there and so was the other team, so it was going to come down to who wanted it more.
“Both our matches were very competitive and that’s what we expected. But I can’t say enough about this group and the way they’ve stuck together. Being the first team from the school to ever qualify for state is really special.”
The Blue Devils trailed in their semifinal match against Lodi—a team they lost to during the regular season—but got wins from Rinehart and Bjugstad to end the match in rallying for the win. Rinehart beat Ryan Ripp, 4-2 in overtime, to make it 30-28, and Bjugstad followed with a 9-3 win at 220.
At the Division 2 Pewaukee Team Sectional, East Troy won its semifinal match against Kewaskum but lost to sixth-ranked Pewaukee in the title match, 56-9. Andy Strey and Cody Vogel won both of their matches for the Trojans.