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Willmar's Austin Miley works on a single-leg takedown in the 132-pound match with Centennial on Thursday in St. Paul. Miley ended up pinning Austin Miller at 5:02. It was the Cardinal junior’s 100th career victory and raised his season record to 38-4. Willmar went on to win the match on a tiebreaker after the teams tied 31-all.

Prep wrestling: Spuds stop Willmar’s run at trophy

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ST. PAUL — The upstart Willmar Cardinals fell to another up-and-coming program in the Class AAA consolation championship early Thursday evening at the Xcel Energy Center.

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The Moorhead Spuds, making their first appearance on the State Tournament stage since 1981 dominated the match from 160-pounds on to sideswipe the Cardinals’ trophy hopes 36-22.

Willmar led 16-9 with six matches left. That was plenty of time for the Spuds, who are strongest where the Cardinals are most vulnerable.

Moorhead ran off five straight wins — four by pin — to take command. The match ended with heavyweight Cass Herzog scoring a pin but far too late for Willmar, which ends its second straight state tournament season 15-11.

The Spuds seemed happy to just stay off their back in the early matches. Willmar’s five wins by the midway point scored only one bonus point total, a major by Austin Miley.

The Spuds (15-5), who are in their second year guided by New London-Spicer graduate Skip Toops, lost to No. 2 seed Apple Valley 55-9 but then walloped Woodbury 51-21 in the consolation semis.

Willmar was downcast after the loss.

Ed Oehlers, co-head coach with Justin Brown, noted it was a tough way for the season to end for the seniors.

Then he added: “These are tough teams down here. We did get a win and we have a lot to look forward to. We’ll just keep building.

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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