January 26, 2012 at 8:21 a.m.

CL wraps up NSC crown with dramatic win

CL wraps up NSC crown with dramatic win
CL wraps up NSC crown with dramatic win

Mark Sontag's hard-fought, controversial double-overtime decision at 145 helped to set the stage for the Wildcat's big finish. And Chase Kammerer's 4-0 decision over Sam Gerlach of St. Francis broke a tie and gave the Wildcats a 33-30 win over St. Francis. The win guaranteed the Wildcats at least a share of their first conference championship in 22 years. A win over Benilde-St. Margaret's (2-5 conference) in two weeks will clinch the undisputed championship.

The Wildcats won nine matches on the evening to five for St. Francis, but all of the St. Francis wins were pins. The Wildcats had two pins to go along with seven decisions.

Kyle Schoenecker (106) led off the night with a dominant first period against Daniel Worthington of St. Francis. He scored a takedown at 56 seconds for a 2-0 lead. He wore down Worthington the rest of the period, nearly pinned him and was awarded a three point near-fall at the end of the period for a 5-0 lead. Worthington started down in the second period and nearly scored a reversal at the end of the period. Schoenecker started down in the third period and kept a persistent Worthington from turning him, holding on for a 5-0 win and a 3-0 Wildcat lead.

Dylan Connell (113) came out aggressively and scored a takedown and three point near fall in the first ten seconds of the match. He was awarded a second near fall at 35 seconds and finished off Andrew Wasche with a pin at 1:01 to stretch the Wildcat lead to 9-0. Austin Hable (120) was pinned by Tyler Dahlstrom of St. Francis just 35 seconds into his match to cut the Wildcat lead to 9-6.

Jake Frascone (126) and Aaron Wilson of St. Francis got off to a wild start in their match. A takedown and near-fall by Frascone and a reversal and near- fall by Wilson made it 5-5 at 1:15. In the second period, Wilson started down and got two points for a reversal at 2:30. It looked like he was within a couple of seconds of pinning Frascone at 2:59, but the referee noticed blood and called a timeout before Wilson could complete the pin. The St. Francis coaches were furious, but the decision stood. Once the match resumed, Frascone stave off the pin for the rest of the period. The wrestlers started both up in the third period. Wilson scored a takedown at 4:38. Frascone worked hard to hold off the pin. He arched his back as Wilson bore down, but Wilson finished off the pin with five seconds left in the match to give the Fighting Saints a 12-9 lead.

Quade Zupko (132) wasted no time in his match against Ross Perkins of St. Francis. Zupko took down Perkins just five seconds in for a 2-0 lead. He let Perkins up for an escape, and then took him down again at 16 seconds for a 4-1 lead. Perkins didn't stand a chance against the relentless Zupko, who pinned Perkins at 39 seconds, allowing the Wildcats to reclaim the lead at 15-12.

Bobby Sontag had a tough match at 138. He and Kain Lee of St. Francis battled to a 0-0 tie after one period. Starting down in the second period, Sontag escaped at 2:08 to take a 1-0 lead. Just over a minute into the period, he executed a takedown near the edge of the circle. As the wrestlers tumbled out of bounds, the referee awarded Sontag a takedown to push his lead to 3-0. Lee escaped with seven seconds left in the period to cut the lead to 3-1. Lee started down in the third period. Sontag dominated Lee, riding him for the whole period to come away with a 3-1 win. The decision pushed the Wildcat lead to 18-12.

The match between the Wildcats' Mark Sontag (145) and Alex Eastman of St. Francis started off with some fireworks and never let up. Sontag nearly had a takedown at the 1:00 mark, but Eastman nearly reversed it onto a takedown of his own. At 1:30, after a restart, Sontag got a quick takedown for a 2-0 lead. Eastman started down in the second period, and Sontag allowed him up right away for an escape. When Sontag took down Eastman just 20 seconds later for a 4-1 lead, it looked like he was on his way to a win. Sontag allowed Eastman another escape at 1:36 to make the score 4-2. But the strategy backfired as Eastman scored a takedown at 1:45 to tie the score at 4-4. Sontag started down in the third period. Eastman rode Sontag for the entire period. Eastman turned Sontag with about 30 seconds remaining in the period, but it wasn't enough to get any points for a near fall.

In the first one-minute overtime, neither wrestler had a takedown despite a good opportunity for each one. In the first half of the second overtime, Eastman started down but couldn't manage an escape. Sontag started down in the second half of the second overtime and escaped with 14 seconds left to take a 5-4 lead. Eastman attacked Sontag aggressively to work for a winning takedown as the seconds ticked away as the gym got louder and louder. Eastman got a takedown and the referee initially awarded it to him. But the referee checked with the scorer's table and they said the buzzer had gone off a couple of seconds before he awarded the takedown. So he reversed the decision, giving Sontag a 5-4 win and giving the Wildcats a 21-12 lead. The Saints' coaching staff argued vehemently, but the referee stood firm.

At 152, Taylor Charles of St. Francis pinned Mark Shaleen at 28 seconds to cut the Wildcat lead to 21-18. Joe Virga (160) had a solid, workmanlike win over Alec Simoneau of St. Francis. Virga got a takedown with 11 seconds left in the first period. Simoneau started down in the second period, but neither wrestler picked up any points as Virga rode Simoneau for the entire period. Virga started down in the third period, scored a reversal after just five seconds and rode Simoneau out for a 4-0 win. The Wildcats now lead 24-18.

William Pool kept things going for the Wildcats at 170 in his match against Tyler Reitz of St. Francis. There was no scoring the first period. In the second period, Poll started down and escaped at 2:16 to take a 1-0 lead. Reitz started down in the third period and Pool rode him for just over a minute before Reitz escaped to tie the match at 1-1. With 19 seconds left and the fans getting loud again, Pool took down Reitz for two points. The crowd roared as Pool worked on a pin. He was awarded three near fall point with two seconds left to win 6-1 and stretch the Wildcat lead to 27-18.

The Wildcats would end up needing every one of those points. David Barwin (182) was pinned by Conan Sandberg of St. Francis at 3:23 and Kevin Schmidt (195) was pinned with just a few seconds left in the first period, giving St. Francis a 30-27 lead with two matches left to go.

At 220, Jonah Westbury and St. Francis' Alex Lipinski had quite a battle. Neither wrestler came close to a takedown in the opening period. Lipinski started down in the second period and escaped after 20 seconds to take a 1-0 lead. Lipinski nearly had a takedown with 20 seconds left near the edge in the period, but the play was ruled out of bounds and the score remained 1-0 at the end of one. Westbury chose down in the third period and escaped after just 12 seconds to tie the score at 1-1. 18 seconds later, Westbury completed a takedown near the edge of the circle and was ruled in bounds for two points and a 3-1 lead. He rode Lipinski for the rest of the period for the win. The teams were now tied at 30-30.

So it all came down to the 285 pound match between Chase Kammerer and St. Francis' Sam Gerlach. Neither wrestler scored in the first period. Kammerer started down and escaped just 15 seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Kammerer nearly scored a takedown with 30 seconds left in the period, but the referee ruled he was off the edge of the mat. Gerlach started down in the third period and Kammerer never gave him a chance. He rode Gerlach for a minute and then worked on a pin as the excitement built in the crowd. Kammerer was awarded a three point near fall with 30 seconds left in the match, all but sealing the victory, as the crowd roared. The crowd kept getting louder and louder as the seconds ticked away and when the clock hit 0:00 the noise nearly blew the roof off the gym. After the referee raised his hand to signify the win, Kammerer raised both hands in triumph as he was mobbed by his teammates, coaches, the team managers and some fans, too.

"When a match is this close," said Wildcat head coach Shawn Frederixon, "each individual victory plays a big part. St. Francis made their big move by sending Lipinski up to 220 to wrestle Jonah Westbury. They thought they had us at that point and Jonah went out and proved otherwise. A lot of matches went to the third period really close and our guys pulled out all of the matches they needed to. I don't think I've ever seen a match that ended up this close where one team won nine out of the 14 weights. We just did not get any bonus points except for a couple of pins."

"This is certainly a big win for our program," said Frederixon. "And it was a fun night. Whenever I looked up in the crowd, I could see people jumping around and having fun. We haven't gotten too many big wins in front of the home crowd this year, so it was nice to get this one at home."

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