Panthers’ Esplan reaches semisPublished 1:09am Saturday, March 3, 2012
ST. PAUL – New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva’s Dustin Esplan scored a late takedown on Friday to thrust himself into the Class A state individual wrestling tournament’s semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The fifth-ranked Esplan, at 120 pounds, led 7-6 over No. 3-ranked Tanner Mills of Kimball Area when, for most of the final period, he held off any attempt at a takedown. Esplan then took down Mills in front of his coaches’ chairs in the closing seconds to secure the win.
“It was a high-pressure match,” said Esplan, who beat Pelican Rapids’ Jesus Romero 14-1 in the opening round. “That takedown pretty much sealed the deal.”
Esplan was tied with Mills 6-6 to start the third, but his opponent gave him an escape and one-point lead. That proved to be the match-winning point, but Esplan thought Mills’ made the right decision.
“It didn’t surprise me too much because I got away from him pretty easily in the first period,” he said. “To take me on the feet was probably the right choice.”
Esplan faced top-ranked Mitchel Lexold in the semifinals.
The Panthers’ other state qualified, 189-pound senior Seth Petranek, lost his opening round match after four overtimes to James Nelson of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City before beating Triton’s Lucas Etchason 7-0 in the wrestlebacks.