Returning to home dual meet action, the Union wrestling Wildcats celebrated the start of the 2013 portion of the season Thursday with a 54-30 win over North County.

Union improved to 7-1 in dual meets, 13-4 including results from the Hillsboro Tournament last weekend.

“We still have a lot of room for improvement before the district tournament,” Union Head Coach Justin Cranmer said. “It was good to get a win with a less than full strength varsity lineup but we are not training to beat North County, we want to win district and state championships.”

The meet went quickly as seven of the 14 weight classes featured unopposed matches.

Union won four while North County took the other three.

In the contested matches, all ended in pins.

Union’s Logan Meyer (160) pinned Austin Stevens of North County in 1:39 during the first contested bout.

“Logan Meyer stepped in at 160 and took care of business, pinning his opponent in the first period,” Cranmer said.

Dalton Kuenzel (170) of the Wildcats then pinned Jacob Johnson of North County in 2:37.

In the next contested match, North County’s Noah Rodenberg (220) pinned Union’s Hank Tappe in 3:07.

Union’s Joe Lasky (285) then pinned North County’s Dalton Sansoucie in 3:34.

Following three more open classes, Union’s Dennis Dodd (126) pinned Devin Ward of North County in 5:02.

“Dennis Dodd also wrestled well,” Cranmer said. “He was well on his way to a technical fall when he pinned his opponent in the third period.”

North County’s Levi Gramlish (132) then pinned Union’s Dalton Fennessey at the close of the second period with 4:00 being the time of the pin.

Union’s Devin Maidard (145) pinned North County’s Bradlee Boyd in 26 seconds to close the varsity meet.

“We had some JV guys step up and wrestle well for us,” Cranmer said. “I had to sit five starters because we have more than 50 matches scheduled for the season. MSHSAA says you can only have 50 going in to the district tournament and the wrestlers that have not missed any matches yet will have to miss a couple of duals to keep them under this number.”

One of those sitting out was Cody Pace (152) who was a weight class champion at the Hillsboro Tournament last weekend.

Union’s winners by walkovers were Isaac Femmer (106), Colton Faber (113), Tyler Pace (120) and Shane Foster (138).

Pace got the walkover after a gutsy performance at last weekend’s Hillsboro Tournament.

“Tyler Pace stepped up in a big way in that dual to get a big win for the team (against Western Heights, Okla.),” Cranmer said. “He hurt his shoulder in an earlier match and wrestled with basically one arm. He was the last match and he needed to win in order for us to win the dual. He really stepped up to get a major decision win.”

North County’s walkover winners were Dalen Kuehl (152), Hunter Long (182) and Toby Marler (195).

Union next wrestles in Branson Jan. 11-12. The Wildcats will take on Branson and Rolla Friday, Jan. 11, and then wrestle in the Branson Tournament Saturday, Jan. 12.

“We need to have a good week of practice to get ready for a tough Branson tournament next weekend,” Cranmer said. “There will be some good teams at Branson that we do not get to wrestle much, so it will be good for our wrestlers to see some different competition.”

The tournament includes Branson, Bolivar, Carl Junction, Rolla, Union, Lee’s Summit, McDonald County, Monett, Nixa, Neosho, Bixby (Okla.), Reeds Spring, Seneca, Sedalia Smith-Cotton, Ste. Genevieve and Webb City.

The next home meet for Union is Jan. 15 and will be a quad with Four Rivers Conference opponents Sullivan and St. James coming along with Warrenton.