Forest Lake’s dreams of breaking through to the team state wrestling tournament were dashed in the Section 7AAA semifinals on Friday.
Third-ranked St. Michael-Albertville, the section’s top seed, toppled the Rangers, 34-19. Forest Lake was without a couple of team members from when they upset the Knights in December.
“If we have our best lineup in there, I think we wrestle a better dual against them and have a great shot,” said coach Billy Pierce.
Two of seven ranked Knights helped open a 13-0 lead after three bouts. Forest Lake then scored 10 straight points off decisions by Michael Pleski and Ben Morgan and a major decision by Tyler Isaacson.
Two more ranked Knights scored decisions to make it 19-10, but Ryder Paggen earned a decision at 160 and Mike Urban got a pin at 182 to pull the Rangers within three points. However, the Knights trotted out two top-three grapplers in a row to seal the win.
Forest Lake, the fourth seed ranked seventh in the state, was without Austin Boniface, ranked ninth at 152. The senior suffered a high ankle sprain during the team’s first-round win over Anoka. His status is questionable for this week’s individual section meet.
“I feel awful for Austin because he’s really put in a lot of extra time in the off-season to better himself,” Pierce said. “The timing is horrible.”
The Rangers got pins from Morgan, Michael Pleski, James Pleski and Beau Phinney in a 40-26 win over Anoka to start the day.
The Knights went on to beat Cambridge-Isanti in the section finals. The individual section meet runs this Friday and Saturday in Elk River.
“We have anywhere from five to six very legitimate opportunities to send guys to state,” Pierce said.