Northfield never intended for its home dual meet debut to come this late into the season, but it was worth the wait.

The Raiders hosted an individual tournament, their annual Larry Severson Invitational, on Dec. 18, but a pair of scheduled home duals Dec. 10 and Dec. 22 were postponed.

So, for Northfield — ranked No. 10 in the Jan. 13 Class 3A team rankings by — it meant its Section 1AAA and Big 9 Conference nemesis, Owatonna, was first dual on the docket at Northfield High School.

The Huskies walked into a hornet’s nest Thursday, succumbing to the home squad by a 55-18 final score.

“The guys practiced hard, they got after it and, man, they showed it tonight,” Northfield coach Geoff Staab said.

The two sides own four of the last five section team championships. They’ve squared off in plenty of thrilling matchups over the years.

On Thursday, it was lopsided. The Raiders walked away with the largest margin of victory in the rivalry since the Huskies were 40-point victors in December 2016.

The snowball began to roll downhill right away for Northfield (11-2, 4-0 Big 9) in the 106-pound weight class.

Really, momentum began to form the previous weekend. Northfield won five of six matches at The Clash, a dual tournament in La Crosse, Wisconsin that attracts a who’s who of elite teams from across the midwest.

The battle-tested Raiders were ready to pounce on an Owatonna team (6-6, 4-2 Big 9) absent four regular contributors due to injury.

“They banded together since The Clash last week,” Staab said. “They really came together as a team. We got healthy. They really got after it. Our guys practiced hard, they had the thing in their head that Owatonna’s always a big rivalry for us. The last few years we’re always in the mix and want to beat Owatonna.”

Northfield seventh grader Caden Staab opened the night at 106 pounds with a 4-0 decision win against eighth grader Jayden Jirele.

“Staab’s sharp, he’s pretty well-rounded for so young,” Owatonna coach Derek Johnson said. “For Jirele to come out and give him everything he had and take him to the wire, we were proud to see that. That was his first varsity match.”

Freshman Keith Harner erased a 2-0 deficit after two periods to earn his team three more points with a 3-2 victory at 113 pounds over freshman Lane Karsten. That was one match the Huskies were counting on if they were to hang around.

So was the next match at 120.

Freshman Logan Williams not only came out on top against eighth grader, Trey Hiatt, but had him pinned in 3 minutes, 3 seconds after leading 3-0.

“At 120, that’s a huge win. Trey Hiatt’s a good wrestler,” Geoff Staab said. “We didn’t quite know what was going to happen. Logan went out there and took him down twice, cradled him, pinned him.”

No one earned more points than senior Beau Murphy in a 14-2 major decision at 126 over senior Jake Gronli.

The Raiders led 16-0 after the first four weight classes.

“We’re feeling really good,” Northfield senior Darrin Kuyper said. “Hopefully we can keep this energy going. We’re all wrestling the best we have to wrestle.”

Owatonna first got on the board at 132 with No. 4 junior Cael Robb winning by fall in the second period against junior Brody Gorr.

The Raiders kept the Huskies from stringing together multiple wins in a row.

At 138, eighth grader Jackson Barron accrued an 8-0 lead before pinning senior Michael Bobo in 3:53.

There was plenty of familiarity between the two opponents at 145. Northfield senior No. 5 Jake Messner outlasted senior Kanin Hable in a 6-2 decision. Messner was in control with a 5-0 lead after two periods.

“I just knew I had to get the win,” Messner said of his match, which pushed Northfield’s lead to 25-6. “Me and my opponent, we’ve wrestled each other since elementary school. We’re really good friends, we know each other really well. I knew what I had to do and I got the job done.”

Northfield freshman Owen Murphy pinned freshman Charlie Seykora in 42 seconds to win at 152, and it wasn’t the Raiders’ quickest arm raise of the night.

At 160, junior Jayce Barron took Owatonna’s top-ranked wrestler, senior Landen Johnson, to the second period before Johnson got the pin at 3:08.

The Kuyper brothers, Darrin and freshman Ryan, took nearly the same time to defeat their opponents at 170 and 182, respectively. Darrin earned a loud roar for pinning senior No. 6 Jake Reinardy in 1:28.

“He’s a tough kid. I thought it was going to be a lot longer match than that,” Darrin Kuyper said, adding that he saw his moment and was able to throw Reinardy on his back to clinch six points for his team.

The applause heightened when Ryan pinned freshman Blake Fitcher in 1:30.

The next two Raider victories also came by fall. At 195, senior Nickolas Mikula found his rhythm in the second period to pin senior Andrew Nirk at 2:29.

Senior Mason Pagel pinned freshman Lucas Smith in nine seconds at 220.

“Whenever Mason storms out there, you know it’s going to be a quick match,” Darrin Kuyper said.

Owatonna claimed the 285 class with senior Mason Krampitz producing a second-period pin against junior Joseph Schulz.

There are few breaks on the schedule for Northfield.

Next up is a road trip Jan. 20 to the top-ranked team in the state, St. Michael-Albertville. Exactly a week later, Northfield squares off in a triangular at Big 9 contender, Albert Lea, with another conference unbeaten and Section 1AAA threat, Faribault, in attendance.

The Raiders are eager for more challenges like these.

“We’re ready,” Messner said. “We’re ready for anybody.”

Sports reporter for the Faribault Daily News. Graduated from Iowa State University in 2016. Originally from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

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