Milaca passed its first hurdle in defending its Section 7AA team title Tuesday night (Feb. 12) as it nipped North Branch 27-25 in the South Sub-Section Tournament at North Branch.
North Branch, seeded No. 3, topped Rush City-Braham in the first round to advance to a match against No. 2-seeded Milaca.
In the other first-round match, No. 4-seeded Mora topped Pine City-Hinckley-Finlayson 50-19. The Mustangs then lost to No. 1-seeded Chisago Lakes 40-24.
Milaca and Chisago Lakes advance to the Section 7AA Tournament Friday at Pine City. Milaca will face Grand Rapids, the No. 1-seeded team from the North Sub-Section, while Chisago Lakes will meet Hibbing, the No. 2 team from the north in matches at 5 o’clock. The championship match will follow at 7:30.
The Wolves led North Branch 27-15 before the Vikings rallied to win the final three weights. Sophomore Colton Sailor at 195 pounds, sophomore Zach Peterson at 220 and junior Brandon Merten at heavyweight were able to avoid getting pinned. A pin at any of the final three weights would have given the Vikings the win.
Scoring falls for Milaca were junior Ray Hoffman at 113, senior Joey Curtis at 132 and sophomore Aaron Moscho at 152. Sophomore Hunter Noor at 120, sophomore Josh Otten at 160 and sophomore Austin Weidner at 182 won decisions.
The Vikings won eight of the 14 matches but Milaca’s three pins, worth six points each, proved to be the difference.
Milaca will take a 20-10 record into the section meet while Chisago Lakes is 17-7 and has five wrestlers who are state-ranked. The Wildcats defeated the Wolves 31-29 Jan. 8 at Chisago Lakes.
North Branch finished the season with a 14-11 record.
Grand Rapids advanced to the section tourney by topping Cloquet-Esko 58-16 while Hibbing advanced by topping Nashwauk-Keewatin-Greenway 41-30. Those matches were Tuesday night at Greenway.
The Section 7AA Individual Tournament is Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23, at Hibbing.
(Note: Look for complete results from Milaca’s win over North Branch on the Times website.)