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Wolfpack wrestling team on wrong side of close match once again

Park junior Jeremy Simmons defeated Mounds View junior Brandon Bigelbach with a pin 30 seconds into the first period of his 125 pound contest, but the Mustangs went on to beat the Wolfpack 35-25 in the team's last home dual of the year.

It's been a somewhat sick and twisted Suburban East Conference season for the youthful Park wrestling team this year.

The Wolfpack, 1-6 in the SEC, has been on the wrong side of a number of close conference matches this season and just hasn't been able to put it all together to earn an upset win.

Since winning its first conference match, 63-9 over Cretin-Derham Hall back on Jan. 15, Park won six of its 14 matches against White Bear Lake but lost 39-19 and took 19th-ranked Forest Lake to the wire, but was defeated 36-27 in matches that could have gone either way.

Last week, in its final regular season home dual of the season, Park hosted No. 20-ranked Mounds View and lost 35-25 in a match that was all too familiar.

Park -- though short a pair of wrestlers due to injury -- was up 25-18 eight matches into its showdown with the Mustangs, but lost all five of the remaining matches to allow Mounds View to escape with the win.

Three of the five losses down the stretch came by two points or less.

"Mounds View is a good team," Park head coach Jim LaBrosse said. "They're probably going to go to state out of their section. We wrestled really well and lost a few matches that could have went either way."

However, all was not lost.

Park's Jeremy Simmons, Nick Arrigoni, Jake Holton, Ben Gallogly and Deron Giaydu each won their matches against the Mustangs.

After the Wolfpack and Mustangs traded a pair of forfeits and Park lost at 119 pounds, Simmons, a junior, delivered the signature win of the night for the Wolfpack as he defeated Mounds View junior Brandon Bigelbach with a pin 30 seconds into the first period of his 125 pound contest to tie the match.

"Bigelbach has beaten a lot of good kids in the conference," LaBrosse said. "But, (Simmons) did a great job. He's up there. I don't know if he realizes how good he is and how good he can be. Matches like that are good for him to help him realize his potential."

At 130 pounds, Arrigoni -- one of three seniors in the starting lineup -- won a 3-2 decision over Mounds View senior Sam Louwagie to put Park up 15-12.

After Mounds View took back the lead, Holton -- another senior -- won with a 13-1 major decision at 140 pounds over Mounds View freshman Richard Carlson.

At 145 pounds Gallogly, a sophomore, won 2-0 over Mounds View senior John O'Malley and Giaydu, a junior, defeated No. 10-ranked Mustangs' senior Terry Mulvaney at 152 pounds to give Park a 25-18 lead.

LaBrosse was happy Giaydu earned the win, although the second-year wrestler gave away five points in violations.

"He's still having some issues understanding some of the things going on in the matches and he's lost some matches because of it," LaBrosse said. "He just needs to learn those things. Tonight he did enough things right to win. That was a good win for him and I think he'll be there at the end."

But, Giaydu's win was the last one the Wolfpack would register on the night.

In a close loss, Park junior Jared Flaata fell 12-10 to Mounds View senior Connor Finn, who is ranked No. 3 at 171 pounds.

In the match, Flaata and Finn were tied 10-10 late in the third period, but Flaata was taken down with six seconds left and Finn avoided the upset.

"Jared wrestled probably his best match of the year," LaBrosse said. "Finn has whooped up on some pretty good guys. That was tough. But, that should give Jared confidence for the rest of the year. If he keeps pushing, good things are going to happen for him."

Next up for Park are the Suburban East Conference Championships on Saturday at Stillwater High School.

At last year's SEC Tournament, five Park wrestlers earned All-Conference honors. Flaata is the lone returning All-Conference wrestler from last season.

"If we're full strength I think we could have won some of these matches that we lost," LaBrosse said. "But, I'm proud of them. They're not quitting and they're still really working hard.

"It's just one or two matches here or there. It's a total team effort. We need everybody to wrestle their best."

Season records:

-- 112: Kenny Gerhardt, 15-11

-- 119: Colin McCarty, 10-11

-- 125: Jeremy Simmons, 18-11

-- 130: Nick Arrigoni, 17-13

-- 135: Alex Hansen, 7-11

-- 140: Jake Holton, 6-11

-- 145: Ben Gallogly, 14-13

-- 152: Deron Giaydu, 17-7

-- 160: Sam Swanson, 13-12

-- 171: Jared Flaata, 20-7

-- 189: Alex Ringhand, 10-14

-- 215: Mike Knutson, 11-18

-- 285: Kevin Pattain, 11-12