The fact that only 34 team points were scored tells it all. The University of Mary's 28-6 Thursday night dual wrestling victory over visiting Concordia College of Moorhead, Minn., was a grinder.
Eight of the 10 bouts were garden variety decisions. Concordia's Tyler Bents and U-Mary'd Dante Springsteen were the only two men to vary from the norm. Bentz pinned Anthony Velazquez in 1:20 at 149 pounds and Springsteen took a 14-3 major decision from Ian Frenzel at 174.
U-Mary ground out two of its wins in the third period.
Laken Boese, a former state champion at Bismarck High School, defeated Concordia's Jacob Prunty 3-1 after trailing 1-0 through five minutes. Boese evened the score with an escape to open the third period. After letting a golden opportunity for a pin slip away with 25 seconds remaining, Boese scored a takedown with 16 seconds on the clock to capture the win.
Boese, a true freshman who evened his season record at 2-2, said Thursday's dual was not just another night on the mat. It was U-Mary's home opener and Boese's first time on the mat as a college wrestler.
"There were a lot of nerves. ... I knew about the atmosphere, and I know how many people show up, so I wanted to put on a show for the fans," he said.
Boese said he's found collegiate wrestling to be a far different beast from the high school version of the sport.
"The hand fighting is a lot more rough. The guys all-around are tougher," he observed. "In high school you get some easy (points), but now it's all about the work you put in."
Prunty, a sophomore from Worthington, Minn., was an enigma to Boese.
"I'd never seen or heard of him before. ... When you face someone new you want to dictate the match. He doesn't know you, and you want to prove to him that you came to wrestle," Boese said.
Austin Eichmann and the Cobbers' Aiden Friese wrestled to a 2-2 standoff through two periods. Eichmann took the lead with an escape seven seconds into the third period and went ahead with a takedown nine seconds later. Up 5-2, he held off Friese the rest of the way for a 5-3 verdict.
The 125-pound match, a 22-point romp, proved to be a lively opener. The score was tied at 4-4 after a period, but the Marauders' Jeremy Leintz took command with a reversal and two takedowns in the second session. He closed with two more takedowns in the final two minutes for a 14-8 victory.
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Eichmann was the only senior to take the mat on Thursday.
The Cobbers have only three juniors and no seniors on their roster.
U-Mary head coach Adam Aho said the roster doesn't lie; the Marauders are green.
"We're a super-young team. Our only returning starters tonight were (Phillip) Springsteen, (heavyweight) Dom Tudor and Austin Eichmann," Aho noted.
All three won decisions, but none were dominant.
Tudor methodically dispatched a much smaller Austin Ratliff 7-3.
Phillip Springsteen, seventh at 174 pounds at the NCAA Division II nationals last season, wrestled up at 197 on Thursday. He attacked Jacob Arends for three takedowns and two back points for a 10-1 first-period lead and then took his foot off the accelerator. Over the final four minutes he was outscored 6-1, surrendering four stalling points in the third period.
While conceding the Marauders have a lot of work to do, Aho said they made progress against Concordia.
"For sure we did," he said. "... We knew Concordia was going to be tough. They wrestle very -- stingy would be as good word for it. They're a good defensive team and they're good in the ties. We expended a lot of energy just getting through their ties."
"They're a young team, too. They're going to be tough," Aho added.
The Marauders return to action in fewer than 48 hours. They'll wrestle in the Bison Open at North Dakota State University on Saturday.