PELLA, Iowa — Making its first appearance as a nationally ranked squad in 20 years, No. 29 Central won five of its first six matches and knocked off No. 19 St. Olaf 27-11 in the season opener on Wednesday.
It’s the first Dutch victory against a nationally ranked opponent since the 31-10 upset of No. 25 Buena Vista on Dec. 10, 2004 and just the third time in 11 years that Central has won its season opener.
Powered by falls from a pair of freshmen, Central built up a 21-3 lead. Aaron Anderson needed just 56 seconds for a fall in his collegiate debut at 133 pounds, while 165-pounder Jon Heffner got a pin in 6:35 in his first match.
“Anytime you compete your first time in college, there will be a little bit of nerves, but they handled it well,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “Those bonus points are huge in a dual match.”
Daniel Page opened with a 5-3 decision at 125 pounds while TJ Peretti followed Anderson with a 5-4 victory at 141. Returning national qualifier Joseph Atwell had a hard-fought 8-5 win at 157, Tyler Lowy was a 4-0 winner at 197 pounds and Jake Crawford got a late third-period takedown for a 3-2 triumph at 285 pounds.
“It’s a great start,” Van Kley said. “We feel like we’ve got a really balanced team this year with great upperclass leaders and some freshmen with a lot of potential to be excited about.”
St. Olaf has a veteran squad and defeated Central last year 24-15.
“They brought a good team down here,” Van Kley said. “There were a few tough swing matches and (Wednesday} they went our way. [It] is a great way to start. We did some things right but we definitely saw a lot of things we need to improve on.”