FL wrestlers win back-and-forth battle
Rangers top Royals; go 2-2 at Cambridge-Isanti Invite
The Ranger wrestlers gave home fans an exciting win last Thursday by handing Woodbury just its third loss of the season in the Suburban East Conference.
Eighth-grader Teddy Pierce jumpstarted Forest Lake’s 35-28 victory with a pin at the 106-pound weight class. Sophomore Luke McCord moved up a weight class to 120 pounds and came out fighting, winning by decision to make it a 9-4 match.
Third-ranked (Class AAA) sophomore James Pleski worked quickly at 126 pounds for a pin in the second period to earn six points toward the team total, while senior Andrew Meyers wore down his opponent in the 132-pound weight class to win by technical fall to give his squad a 20-4 lead.
The Rangers would need the cushion, losing the following three weight classes until No. 3 senior Austin Boniface (160 pound) pushed in the third period to earn a decision at 160 pounds against the state’s No. 2-wrestler at 152 pounds.
After losing by pin, decision and major decision in the next three duals, Forest Lake looked to seniors Jeremy McLaughlin at 220 pounds and heavyweight Beau Phinney to close a 28-23 deficit.
McLaughlin took care of business with a pin just three minutes into his match to give the Rangers a one-point lead going into the deciding dual.
Fists pumping, Phinney entered the ring and battled for control off the bat against the Royal heavyweight, ending the first period 0-0. The senior, who stepped in at heavyweight after senior Aaron Calhoun fell sick, earned a pin with 20 seconds to go in the second period for the 35-28 Ranger victory.
Head coach Billy Pierce said Phinney left it all on the mat.
“In a close match like that, the heavyweight always gets the chance to steal the show,” Pierce said. “He gets a big pat on the back. As a former wrestler it’s nerve-racking knowing it’s the team on the line, but he just went out there and wrestled hard for the big ‘W’.”
The head coach also said the victory over the Royals is a testament to the team effort early on in the match: not giving up easy points to tough opponents through pins or technical falls, something the squad struggled with at the beginning of the season.
“I think a lot of the guys have grown to understand what they need to do for the team as far as doing their part,” Pierce said. “It’s not that you lose, it’s how you lose.”
The Forest Lake grapplers also traveled to Cambridge-Isanti over the weekend, where they finished 2-2 with wins over Monticello (47-31) and North Branch (45-21).
The Rangers lost to Perham and the No. 5-ranked (Class AAA) host team amid a scare involving Boniface, who was taken to a hospital by ambulance following a neck/head injury. Pierce said the abrupt absence of the team’s co-captain caused a rattle in Forest Lake’s focus, but hopes to soon have Boniface back in the lineup and on the mat following medical clearance.
The Rangers travel to Roseville on Friday for a triangular with the Raiders and Burnsville, starting at 4:30 p.m.