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Critical match gives PCC wrestlers edge to defeat nationally ranked opponent

Gale Rose
PCCs Luke Culbertson hangs on during a critical point in the recent wrestling contest between the Beavers and the Neosho Community College Panthers last week in Pratt.

When the Pratt Community College Beavers wrestling team headed into the Beaver Dome to take on the 18th ranked (in national community colleges) Neosho County Community College Panthers on Jan. 15, they didn't let the notoriety stop them from going head-to-head in each match with the impetus to win.

In a contest that saw the lead change several times, it came down to a tie at 18-all with just two matches to go. But a pin win for PCCs Luke Culbertson gave the Beavers the team lead, it gave the Beavers a big enough margin to come away with a 24-21 victory over the Panthers.

Coach Ken Kepley said he didn't worry about Neosho's ranking. He believes in his team and knows they will come out with intensity and look for openings.

This was the first dual meet of the season and Kepley said he could tell they were a little timid and that lead to some missed opportunities.

"We left a lot of points out there. We have work to do," Kepley said. "But I'm proud of their effort."

With this dual out of the way and more experience, the guys are ready to take on any opponent.

Culbertson's critical match that gave the Beavers the team lead wasn't going his way at first but with some very fast moves, he overcame Neosho's Cole Denny in the 165 and got the pin that gave the Beavers the cushion they needed to win.

"I've been looking for him (Culbertson) to win. I'm so glad for him," Kepley said. "He works hard every day. He always does what I ask him to."

While each match is an individual challenge, the Beavers know it takes the entire team to win a meet and they all work hard to make that happen. And sometimes, a wrestler will make a break through in a meet.

"Everyone is good. We don't care about accolades," Kepley said. "Luke (Culbertson) had no accolades and he got the biggest win of the night."

Kepley said every guy came to the dual with the attitude they were going to get a win. There was a great effort from everyone.

"I'm proud of the team. They've been through a lot," Kepley said.

Even in the matches they lost, the Beavers never gave up. They are showing a lot of confidence and ready to turn the corner.

The team gets right back to work as they prepare for their next dual with Labette Community College on Jan. 21. Kepley said they weren't going to change a thing in training. They'll pickup the pace, keep moving and fine tune in preparation for the meet. The team is showing good effort and Kepley sees them improving to a higher level.

"We're right there. We're ready to turn the corner," Kepley said.

The dual against Neosho started with Bobby Williams at 184 pounds struggling well but taking a loss. Then Bryce Moreland took a 6-1 decision win to get the Beavers back in the match. Then it was the heavyweights with Darious Wilkins taking the mat and getting a 7-3 decision win to put the Beavers ahead. At 125, Michael Spangler got a walk over win on a Panther forfeit due to injury. Max Bazan took on his opponent and refused to be pinned in 7-1 loss in the 133 weight class.

Then Jacob Mitchell had a tough bout at 141 and took a technical fall loss but also refused to be pinned. At 149 pounds, red shirt Jake Beeson got the Beavers back on the winning track with a pin win. Juan Urbina was the Beavers 157 wrestler and had a tough time, taking a 16-5 loss but like his other team members, refused to lose by a fall. This put the teams in an 18-18 tie with just two matches to go.

Then Culbertson came out in the 165 class and things weren't going his way when he suddenly made a quick move and got the pin win in the second period. That gave the Beavers a 24-18 lead with just one match to go. At 174, Misael Monarrez was the last wrestler of the match. He knew it would be a tough match because his opponent was No. 2 ranked Tyson Villalpando. Monarrez worked hard and although he lost the match 13-8, he, like his other team mates refused to be pinned and that gave the Beavers the 24-21 victory.