A close, controversial loss at Sectionals denied Ryder Albertsen the opportunity to compete at the Class 2A State Wrestling Tournament in the 126 lb. division. On Feb. 18, Albertsen made the most of his State Tournament appearance at a time when his team really needed him. After jumping out to a seemingly comfortable 24-9 lead over Davenport Assumption in the State Team Dual championship match, momentum shifted away from the Knights. After losses at 195, 220 and 285, Union’s once comfortable lead was shaved to 24-22.
Jon Hellman and Derek Holschlag soon restored order for Union, Hellman with a pin at 106 and Holschlag, a 5-0 decision that left Assumption in the unenviable position of needing two consecutive pins to win the match. After Assumption got the pin they needed at 120, it was up to Albertsen to secure Union’s first State Dual title in ten years, facing a wrestler who had pinned him earlier in the season. For three periods, Union fans were on the edge of their seats. Through it all, Albertsen stayed strong and fended off every attack that came. Though he lost the match, 2-0, Assumption was denied the points they needed, and Union had a hard-fought 33-31 victory.
Union’s win was truly a team effort. Throughout the day, they got gutty performances and key pins when they needed them most. Union’s victory was not so much about undefeated returning state champions (though they did themselves and their team proud), as much as it was the performances by the wrestlers who did not qualify for the traditional tournament. Brock Barnhart, Tyler Hanson, Josh Lawrinenko, Justin Stock, Teal Ludemann, Isaiah Vaughan and, of course, Ryder Albertsen each scored valuable points for the team over the course of the day’s three matches.
After the match, Union Head Coach, Pat Hogan said, “This team is pretty resilient. They keep wrestling and they find ways to get it done. When you do that, good things can happen.”
Good things, indeed.