Wrestlers close team season with loss to Bluejackets
FL looks to make mark at individual sections
The Forest Lake wrestlers hosted the Section 7AAA tournament last weekend, but couldn’t get past the fourth-ranked grapplers of Cambridge-Isanti. The Rangers lost 49-23 in the tourney’s opening round.
Forest Lake forfeited at three weight classes as well as an injury default but still improved nine points to the Bluejackets from their last matchup just a month ago.
Earning points for the Rangers was sophomore Luke McCord with a major decision at 113 pounds. The lowerweight is 28-9 on the season, with four losses occurring one weight above at 120 pounds. The eighth-ranked wrestler has won his last 14 matches.
Classmate James Pleski put another four points on the board with a major decision at 126 pounds. The third-ranked wrestler is 31-4 on the season, with losses to No. 2 Dustin Weinmann of Irondale, No. 5 (Class AA) Zach Siegle of Scott West, No. 7 (Class AA) Matt Elsenpeter of Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran, and top-ranked Tommy Thorn of St. Michael-Albertville.
Sophomore Sam Finch earned an exciting 4-2 win for a decision at 138 pounds to improve record to 6-14. Head coach Billy Pierce said the young wrestler is coming along nicely.
“He may not have won a lot this season,” Pierce said, “but he has gotten a lot closer with his competition. He’s fun and exciting to watch so it’s nice for him to come out ahead as a young wrestler.”
Senior Austin Boniface got the fall at 160 pounds, although the fourth-ranked wrestler’s main competition, No. 2 Cody Skog, moved up to the 170-pound weight class on Friday after having previuosly beaten Boniface by injury default on the Bluejacket’s home mat. Boniface is 27-4 on the year, with two losses coming from out-of-state grapplers at The Clash holiday tournament and another to Apple Valley’s second-ranked wrestler, Dayton Racer (145 pounds).
Senior Aaron Calhoun closed out the Ranger scoring with a first-period fall at 220 pounds. The upperweight is 22-11 this season, but has greatly improved since the first of the year, going 15-3 since Jan. 1 and 18-4 including national competition at The Clash in December.
The Ranger team went 11-15 overall this season and 5-4 in the Suburban East Conference, including a memorable 35-28 win over the 19-6 Woodbury Royals.
Others in review and preview
Eighth-grader Teddy Pierce, a newcomer to varsity this year, went 7-10 this season with four of his losses spanning four weight classes (106-126 pounds). The lowerweight found his niche at 106 pounds and has gone 5-1 since The Clash.
Classmate Grant Brown earned quality varsity experience and went 7-11 this season.
“Grant’s a tough, athletic kid,” Pierce said. “He’s put together some nice wins for us this season and has wrestled some tough compeitition as an eighth-grader on varsity.”
Another young grappler to watch at this weekend’s individual section tournament and in years to come is 152-pounder Nic Norem. The middleweight is 5-6 on varsity this season and also won the ninth grade state tournament.
“He’s an up-and-comer,” Pierce said. “Nic’s a hard worker and is another tough and athletic kid.”
Senior Andrew Meyers succumbed to a lingering ankle injury on Friday night after re-injuring the joint in the 132-pound matchup. The fifth-ranked wrestler is 27-10 this season and is resting up to take on a tough section weight class, which holds three of the top five grapplers in the state.
Senior Jeremy McLaughlin is also battling a lingering hip injury suffered during the football season. The upperweight is 15-11, and is resting up to take on a “wide open” weight class at individuals this weekend.
Other varsity contributors this season include junior Kyle Winberg, who battled through a knee injury to return for a 10-10 season at 182 pounds, sophomore Joe Rydel who went 7-25 in just his second year in wrestling, senior heavyweight Beau Phinney (6-12) and senior Cameron Niemczyk (4-20).
The Rangers begin individual section competition at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Anoka.