Wrestlers close team season with loss to Bluejackets

FL looks to make mark at individual sections


Sophomore James Pleski nearly pins his Cambridge-Isanti competitor in the 126-pound weight class during the first round of sections last Friday. (Photo by Greg Hunt/Isanti County News)
Sophomore James Pleski nearly pins his Cambridge-Isanti competitor in the 126-pound weight class during the first round of sections last Friday. (Photo by Greg Hunt/Isanti County News)

Kat Ladwig
Sports Editor

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.