Pete Peterson knew things might not look pretty for the Melrose-Mindoro//G-E-T wrestling team during a 90-minute window Tuesday, Jan. 25, at UW-La Crosse, but he also knew that time was important.
The Titans, ranked eighth in Division 2 by Wisconsin Wrestling Online, need challenges to continue an upward climb. Holmen, ranked first in Division 1, was going to supply that.
Julian Purney got Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T off to a great start with a pin at 126 pounds, but the Vikings controlled things after that in a 49-15 nonconference victory in front of a crowd that well exceeded the announced attendance of 537 people at UW-L’s Mitchell Hall.
“Holmen’s got a great group of high-level kids who exposed some weaknesses we have to work on,” said Peterson, one of the Titans’ co-coaches. “We’ve been preaching about what it takes to be at the top level, and this was a chance for them see that.”
Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T won four matches from the Vikings as the teams competed simultaneously with a WIAC dual between UW-La Crosse and UW-Platteville. The 11th-ranked Eagles beat the 25th-ranked Pioneers 36-6.
Purney, sophomore Bryce Burns (195 pounds), senior Josh Marciulionis (285) and senior Jack Marley (120) posted victories for the Titans, who trailed 35-6 before Burns recorded a 5-2 win over Holmen’s Kyle Burkhardt.
Purney (27-4) — a runner-up finisher at Saturday’s Arcadia Raider Challenge — was the only one to score more than three points for the Titans, and he did that with a second-period pin of Maverick Kulmaczewski.
“He gets it, and he wrestled a great match against (Alex McCray) from Baldwin-Woodville over in Arcadia last week,” Peterson said of Purney, who beat McCray (25-1) by a 2-1 score. “He scrambled well. Mentally, he’s tough and physically, he’s tough. He’s just a good wrestler.”
Marciulionis recorded a big victory at 285 with a 7-6 decision over Jesse Fiers. Marciulionis (16-12) built a 5-3 lead after one period before Fiers (24-9) came back for a 6-5 lead after the second. Marciulionis broke a 6-6 tie with an escape in the third and hung on for the victory.
“Marciulionis had a good season last year, and he’s had a knee issue this year that has him in and out of the lineup,” Peterson said. “We didn’t take him to Bi-State because of it.
“He stayed in position, caught (Fiers) on his back early. It would have been nice for a pin there, but he still got a good win.”
Marley (27-6) closed out with a 7-2 victory over a stubborn Carter Vetsch (17-11).
It took Marley nearly all of the first period to get a takedown, and he led 4-2 heading to the third. He managed an escape to pad his lead to 5-2 late in the third and took Vetsch down in the closing seconds to continue a strong season that includes a second-place finish on Saturday in Arcadia.