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The Antelope

The Antelope

No. 7 Lopers fall to No. 1 Bronchos on senior night

UNK’s Billy Higgins looks to the sideline after getting an advantage over UCO’s Garrett Wells. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

The No. 7 UNK wrestling team lost a tight match to top-ranked Central Oklahoma on senior night Friday at the Health & Sports Center. The Lopers jumped out to a 10-point lead but were outmatched down the stretch, falling 20-13.

UNK won the first three matches of the dual, but the only Loper to win the rest of the way was redshirt senior Billy Higgins (184 pounds).

Coach Dalton Jensen was proud to see the fight his wrestlers displayed against a top-ranked team.

“I just wanted to make sure we competed hard in every match, even if we came away with some losses,” Jensen said. “That’s a good team. They are very merited the number one team in the country. So to be able to compete hard with those guys, even though it’s a loss on the scoreboard, it’s a confidence boost going into regionals.”

UNK used wins in the first three matches by redshirt freshman Zach Ourada, sophomore Drew Arnold and senior Nick James to claim an early advantage.

Ourada, ranked No. 6 at 125 pounds, defeated Garrett Steidley 5-1 and Arnold (133 pounds) used a 12-point third period to best Peter Rolle 14-4.

Seventh-ranked senior Nick James (141 pounds) maneuvered a takedown in the last 30 seconds of the second period to upset fourth-ranked Dylan Lucas.

The Lopers nearly notched another upset at 165 pounds. Redshirt sophomore Kaden Hart had a 4-2 lead over ninth-ranked Hunter Jump, but Jump recorded a 3-point takedown as the clock hit zero in the third period.

Jensen challenged the call, but the takedown was confirmed by video review.

“Kaden just missed out,” Jensen said. “He won 6:58 of that match and just let two seconds get away. Sometimes a hard lesson to learn is a good lesson.”

Higgins was the last Loper to win his match. The 12th-ranked senior earned an 8-5 victory over fifth-ranked Garret Wells at 184 pounds.

The three seniors for UNK finished the night 2-1, with James and Higgins snagging wins and John Burger (149 pounds) falling 3-0 to 10th-ranked Dylan Brown.

“John had a tough one, but it was nice to see Nick and Billy go out on the right foot,” Jensen said. “They end their careers in this gym with a win, in front of a home crowd and beat higher ranked opponents. That’s big time.”

UCO’s weekend wins over UNK and Fort Hayes State gave the Bronchos their fourth-straight MIAA title.

The UNK wrestling team has some time off to prepare for the postseason. The Lopers jump back into action on March 2 as they travel to Pueblo, Colorado, for the NCAA Super Region VI meet.

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