CEDAR RAPIDS — Dennis Hynek liked the way things were sitting entering the final two matches of Thursday night’s dual meet with Cedar Rapids Prairie.
The Cougars trailed 35-27 with two matches to go, but had top-ranked Ben Sarasin up at 170 pounds and talented freshman Cael Knox at 182.
“We knew it was down to Sarasin at 170 and Knox at 182,” Hynek said. “The bottom line is that Knox had to win his match and he got it done.”
Sarasin picked up five points with a technical fall over Mike Jasa and Knox capped off the comeback with an impressive 11-2 major decision over Derek Horak to rally the Cougars to a 37-35 win, capping off a great night of Mississippi Valley Conference wrestling.
The Cougars lost a 33-30 decision to Dubuque Hempstead to open the double dual, while Prairie nipped the Mustangs, 38-36.
“The fans really got their money’s worth tonight,” Hynek said. “All three duals went down to the last match. There were three really good wrestling teams here tonight.”
Sarasin agreed with his coach about the intensity of the meets. After losing a close decision to Hempstead, he knew what had to be done.
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“Me and Cael are always looking to score extra points for our team,” Sarasin said. “It was a little bit different with the pressure of the dual meet hanging over us but we were in a place where we felt comfortable.”
Sarasin is a wrestler usually looking for a pin, but he changed his approach a bit, taking more shots to eventually get the technical fall over Jasa.
“We needed Ben to make sure he got at least five points,” Hynek said. “Once he did that, all we needed was for Knox to win.”
Knox took control early and never let Horak get into their match.
“That was the key match of the dual,” said Prairie Coach Kane Thompson of the match at 182. “We did some things differently than we normally do. We don’t usually try to throw guys.
“I don’t know if (Horak) thought he had to do that for the team, but if we go out and get a solid win, we win the meet. That’s something that we’ll work on, closing the gap and changing some things up a little bit.
Prairie’s Ashton Stoner-Degroot opened the dual with a 1-0 win over Cade Parker at 195 in an entertaining match that saw Stoner-Degroot ride Parker out throughout the third period.
The Hawks were down early but rallied with pins from Trenten Wennermark (145), Justis Kruse (152) and Colton LeGrange (160) to take a 35-28 lead, setting the stage for the Cougars’ comeback in the final two matches.