A dream come trueKnupp's pin in the last match of the night lifts Washington over Mt. Pleasant
The night before his team’s dual meet with Southeast Conference rival Mt. Pleasant, Washington junior 152-pounder Tanner Knupp had a dream that the meet would come down to him. Unfortunately, he woke up before he got a chance to finish the dream.
But on Thursday night, on the mat, Knupp got a chance to finish his dream.
With his team trailing 34-31, Knupp walked onto the mat for the final match of the night.
“I had a dream last night that I would be the last match,” Knupp said. “Then we got into the locker room tonight and Coach [Brent Van Weelden] said, ‘Starting at 60.’ I was shocked. I love those situations where I’m under pressure.”
Knupp opened the must-win match with a quick takedown, but Mt. Pleasant senior Michael Alderson quickly escaped. Undeterred, Knupp took down Alderson again, this time to his back.
Knupp had Alderson on his back for over a minute, but finally pinned him with 17 seconds remaining in the first period. After the referee’s whistle, Knupp popped up and let out a roar. His win had lifted the Demons to a 37-34 victory over the Panthers.
“I knew I had the opportunity to get the fall late in the first [period], and I knew if I didn’t get the fall then I’d missed a big opportunity. So I had to make use of the opportunity, and I did,” Knupp said.
Knupp dedicated the victory to the late Curt Jensen, a beloved teacher and coach at Washington High School who passed away on Jan. 10, 2007.
“A family friend and a teacher, Mr. Curt Jensen, died six years ago today,” Knupp said. “On my knee pad, I wrote ‘CJ5.’ Jan. 10 is always going to be in my mind. When I woke up this morning, I thought of him.”
The loss was a tough one for the Panthers (11-6, 1-2 SEC), who had led 31-16 with five matches remaining in the meet. Washington also won by the score of 37-34 last year in Mt. Pleasant.
“It was real close,” Mt. Pleasant head coach Anthony Blint said. “A year later, same score.”
Mt. Pleasant senior Jayton Phillips opened the meet with a 7-2 win over Washington senior Brandon Rhinhart at 160 pounds. Washington junior 170-pounder Austin Latcham, wrestling in his first meet since the holiday break after returning from a back injury, answered with a win by fall at 170 pounds, and sophomore Brad Skubal also pinned his opponent at 182 pounds.
But Mt. Pleasant won the next four matches. Junior Justin Dilks won a 12-2 major decision over Washington senior Aaron Kempf at 195 pounds, and then senior Colton Aplara, senior Emmett Wester and freshman Colton Mertens each recorded pins to put the Panthers ahead 25-12.
“It seems like every dual we start at the worst place possible,” Van Weelden said. “They’re strong up top. We knew we were a little out-gunned up there, but I’ll tell you, Aaron Kempf didn’t get pinned. He lost by a major, but not a fall, so that was big for us. Even at 160, Brandon Rhinhart was going up against one of their best wrestlers and he only gave up a decision. Really, it came down to the kids who lost for us, but didn’t give up bonus points. That was the main thing, I think.”
Washington junior Fletcher Green, who is ranked fifth in Class 2A at 113 pounds, won a 9-0 major decision over Mt. Pleasant sophomore Conner Eads, but Mt. Pleasant junior Tyler Lanphier pinned Washington freshman Michael Ellingson in the first period to put the Panthers up 31-16.
Washington junior Tristan Pohren got a reversal to open the third period and then held on for a 2-1 decision over Alex Lanphier at 126 pounds. Then freshman Jarek Brown, who was wrestling in just the sixth varsity match of his career because teammate Tony Landstrum was out sick, got a crucial win at 132 pounds.
Brown took down Mt. Pleasant sophomore Blake Wickham in the first period and got three nearfall points to lead 5-0 after two minutes of action. Wickham started down in the second period, and Brown turned him to his back three times. Finally, Brown got the fall for his second career varsity win.
“I put him in an arm bar, and I was having trouble running it over, so I had to keep re-setting,” Brown said. “I finally got it tight enough.”
Brown’s win was a key one for the Demons (13-1, 3-1 SEC), who trailed 31-19 entering the match.
“That was huge,” Van Weelden said. “We had to get pins at that point obviously. Being down 31-19, I started counting on my fingers what we had to do, and I figured we probably needed three falls to win or maybe even to get a tie.”
Washington senior Mitchell Hora followed with a pin at 138 pounds that tied the score. But Mt. Pleasant junior Josh Larson won a 5-1 decision over Washington senior Matt Grote at 145 pounds to put the Panthers back in front. Then it all came down to Knupp, who got a chance to give his dream a happy ending.
“I dreamed about it, and dreams come true a lot of times,” Knupp said.
Washington 37, Mt. Pleasant 34
160 — Jayton Phillips (MP) dec. Brandon Rhinhart (W), 7-2. 170 — Austin Latcham (W) pinned Noah Brown (MP), 3:17. 182 — Brad Skubal (W) pinned Kallin Crile (MP), 0:31. 195 — Justin Dilks (MP) major dec. Aaron Kempf (W), 12-2. 220 — Colton Aplara (MP) pinned Kyle Collier (W), 1:25. 285 — Emmett Wester (MP) pinned Darius Stogner (W), 3:14. 106 — Colton Mertens (MP) pinned Michael Witt (W), 0:48. 113 — Fletcher Green (W) major dec. Conner Eads (MP), 9-0. 120 — Tyler Lanphier (MP) pinned Michael Ellingson (W), 1:44. 126 — Tristan Pohren (W) dec. Alex Lanphier (MP), 2-1. 132 — Jarek Brown (W) pinned Blake Wickham (MP), 2:45. 138 — Mitchell Hora (W) pinned Rob Pohren (MP), 2:58. 145 — Josh Larson (MP) dec. Matt Grote (W), 5-1. 152 — Tanner Knupp (W) pinned Michael Alderson (MP), 1:43.
Junior varsity matches
145 — Derek Stender (W) pinned Jarrett Wilson (MP), 2:22. 145 — Jarrett Wilson (MP) pinned Tyler Walters (W), 4:22.