It was nip and tuck throughout, but after ten matches in a McDowell Activities Center that continued to fill as word spread around the Mary campus that things were getting wild, Mary won the first annual Battle of the Barrel with a 16-15 victory over their Highway 83 rival Minot State Beavers. The difference in the dual was the lone match with bonus points; a controversial 10-1 major decision scored by Mary #9 ranked 133 Tate Barnhardt. Barnhardt dominated the 133 pound bout for its entirety, but the Marauder junior was unable to blow the match open as Beaver Michael Rangel held on for what seemed to be an 8-1 decision loss. A restart with two seconds remaining in the bout is what sent it into review, and Minot State head coach Evan Forde into a rage. Barnhardt shot a quick double leg on the restart, and was awarded the two points he needed for a major decision at the buzzer. Forde immediately threw a challenge brick, arguing that time was up or that the clock wasn’t started properly. After a lengthy review, Barnhardt was awarded the two points and a major decision. At the time, the major narrowed the Minot State lead to 12-7, in the end it was the difference in dual that split matches 5-5.
After Mary won the first match on a 3-0 decision from 174 Austin Eichmann over Parker Ostermann to take the early 3-0 team lead, Minot State went to work. The Beavers won four straight matches from 184 all the way through the turn at 125. Each match was a decision victory for Evan Forde’s Beaver squad, starting with a dominating 6-1 win by Keegan Berry at 184. At 197, Belcourt’s Briley Crissler won a controlled 6-3 decision over Mary freshman Emmitt Brooks. Crissler was never in danger in the match, and showed the experience of a wrestler that has logged a lot of important match minutes for the Beavers. Beaver senior Mitch Eull won his decision with dominant mat wrestling. Eull rode out Mary sophomore Dom Tudor in the second period and then escaped in the third for a 2-0 victory. Minot State was the favorite in their first three wins, but Forde’s bunch also cored the first tossup victory when Dean Arevalo scored a wild 15-13 decision over Nate Humann at 125. Arevalo took the lead for good at the end of the second period of a back and forth match with two takedown and four near fall. Humann was able to narrow the gap with a Hail Mary headlock in the closing seconds, but it wasn’t enough to even the score. Minot State led the dual 12-3 at the break.
After the Barnhardt victory and lengthy pause for two separate reviews, Mary’s Hunter Eckert started strong in his 141 pound bout with Minot State’s Jared Sublet. Eckert scored two first period takedowns and even though he faded a bit in the third, held on for a 5-4 victory that again shrunk the Minot State lead, this time to 12-10. Mary then took back the lead 13-12 with a Rudy Guilen 6-1 decision over Tanner Crissler. It was Guillen’s first bout in nearly a month as he has been recovering from both injury and the flu.
With two matches remaining, Minot State took the lead back with a Zach Berry 11-5 decision over Chris Leatherman. Berry’s win gave Minot State a 15-13 lead and ensured that the feature match of the evening between Minot State senior Carlos Toledano and Mary’s #11 Phil Sprinsteen would decide the dual. Toledano defeated Springsteen 6-1 way back in December, but this time it was Springsteen edging Toledano 10-8. The bout at 165 was the perfect ending to the best dual the state of North Dakota has seen this year. Toledano was able to neutralize Springsteen’s otherworldly top game with strong effort from the bottom position and forced the match into a battle from neutral. Springsteen was game, scoring the first two takedowns to take an early 4-1 lead and holding on to win the barn burner.
Mary finishes their regular season Wednesday at hime against Northern. Minot State has two matches left; Tuesday vs. Northern and Friday vs. Moorhead.