So close. So very, very close.
The Blue Earth Area Buccaneer wrestling team, seeded at No. 2 in the Section 2A Tournament, nearly pulled off the upset of the No. 1 seed, Kenyon-Wanamingo and nearly earned a trip to the State Wrestling Tournament.
But, the No. 10-in-state-ranked Bucs fell just short, falling to the No. 4 state-ranked K-W Knights, 33-28.
Jared Armon wrestles Ethan Caven during the Buccaneers’ 49-16 victory over Maple River – a win that brought BEA to the Section 2A championship match.
The match came down to the 285-pound contest, when the Knights were holding a slim 30-28 lead over the Bucs.
That heavyweight match, between BEA's Trevor Oppedal and K-M's Kaya Lindell, was a battle royale, tied 9-9 at the end of regulation, going into overtime before Lindell gained an 11-9 win.
Lindell, ranked at No. 8 in state at 220 pounds, had moved up to 285 to take on Oppedal.
The action came on Saturday, Feb. 18, at United South Central High School in Wells.
The Buccaneers had started off the afternoon with a convincing 49-16 victory over the Maple River Eagles. That win put them into the Section 2A championship match against the Knights.
Here is how both matches added up.
K-M 33, BEA 28
The Buccaneers got on the scoreboard first when Davis Sunken won a close 2-1 decision over Bray Olson at 106 pounds.
While the match remained tight the rest of the way, this was the only time BEA led.
At 113 pounds, Max Ehrich lost by a fall to Jeron Matson, ranked No. 1 in state. When BEA's Caden Ochsendorf won a close 5-4 decision over Tyler Craig, the match was tied up at 6-6.
Joe Schavey was pinned by Bradley Kish, ranked No. 4 in state, at 126 pounds, and Jaxen Klinkner was pinned by Seth Brossard, ranked No. 9 in state, at 132, and K-M led 18-6.
The Bucs came right back when Dalton Nagel scored a 10-2 major decision over Jaeden Sokoloski at 138 pounds and No. 6-ranked Cole Klinkner pinned Daniel Kish at 145.
That brought the Bucs within two of the Knights at 18-16.
But when Rylee McGuire was pinned by Nathan Bauer at 152 pounds and Roger Ziegler was pinned by No. 1-ranked Tyler Ryan at 160, K-M was back in a 30-16 lead.
BEA would win the next four matches, all by decisions that gave the Bucs three team points each, cutting the lead to 30-28.
At 170 pounds, Zach Buseman, ranked at No. 3 in state at 152 pounds, won 3-0 over Dylan Craig, who is ranked at No. 4 at 160 pounds; Wyatt Tungland won 11-5 over Logan Quam (who is ranked at No. 7 in state) at 182; Jesus Quintero won 6-3 over Hunter Burow at 195; and Jared Armon won a close 2-1 battle against Peyton Hilke at 225, having moved up from his usual 190 pound spot where he is ranked No. 5 in state.
That set up the final match at 285 pounds where Oppedal and Lindell battled it out with Lindell taking the very close win, and the Knights just edging out the Bucs for the State trip.
BEA 49, Maple River 16
The Buccaneers used five pins, one forfeit and one major decision to overwhelm the Maple River Eagles in the first match of the day, 49-16.
Davis Sunken led off at 106 pounds with a 6-4 decision over Trevor Pearson, followed by Max Ehrich awarded six team points for a forfeit at 113 and Caden Ochsendorf notching a 9-4 win over Reise Hanson at 120.
That gave BEA a 12-0 start.
Joe Schavey lost a 5-1 decision to Cody Walters at 126 pounds, but Dalton Nagel got a 17-8 major decision over Wyatt Simon at 132. Bucs ahead 16-3.
Jaxen Klinkner lost to Lincoln Arndt, ranked No. 6 in state, 17-4, at 138 pounds and Rylee McGuire lost a close 4-3 decision at 145 to Nathan Moore.
The Bucs, now leading 16-10, then proceeded to win the next three contests and take a big 31-10 advantage.
Cole Klinkner got a pin over Jared Latusek at 152 pounds, Zach Buseman won with a 6-3 decision over Jared Moore at 160 and Wyatt Tungland pinned Dustyn Schmidt at 170.
BEA's Isaac Martinez lost by a fall to Noah Decker, ranked at No. 2 in state, at 182 pounds, making the score 31-16. But the Buccaneers won the final three contests all by falls to make the final tally 49-16.
Jesus Quintero pinned Logan Ziegler at 195 pounds, Jared Armon put Ethan Caven to the mat at 220 and Trevor Oppedal pinned Connor Thorn at 285.
Next up for the Buccaneers is the Class A, Section 2 Individual Wrestling Tournament, which was scheduled to be held in Blue Earth on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25 weather permitting.
Stories and photos from this tournament will be in the next Faribault County Register.