Boniface closes career with state medal, sophomores end in spotlight

Senior Austin Boniface took fifth place at his state tournament debut last week. Photos by Rick Orndorf/SUN Thisweek Newspapers
Senior Austin Boniface took fifth place at his state tournament debut last week. Photos by Rick Orndorf/SUN Thisweek Newspapers


Forest Lake’s three state-bound wrestlers ended their 2012-13 season at the Xcel Energy Center over the weekend.

Sophomore Luke McCord (113 pounds) faced Hopkins wrestler Noah Sattler (24-13) in the first round and defeated the junior 14-0.

McCord then went up against Farmington’s Jamin LeDuc (33-5) and lost in a 4-1 minor decision. The Ranger grappler turned around to defeat Danny Chlebeck of Spring Lake Park/Saint Anthony Village by decision.

McCord then fell to Albert Lea’s Trevor Westerlund (40-7). The Tiger was called for a slam that injured McCord’s shoulder. McCord opted to continue on the mat, but fell short, 8-3.

Assistant coach Joe Kunshier said McCord showed great improvement this season, especially after The Clash holiday tournament in Rochester.

“Luke’s dedication is just amazing,” Kunshier said. “I think the holiday tournament really showed him that he could compete with the top wrestlers, and he made it to state through sheer work ethic and an upbeat pace on the mat.”

James Pleski fell 6-5 in the first round to Rosemount ninth-grader Adam Hedin (16-5) to close out his sophomore season. Since Hedin fell in the second round, Pleski did not have an opportunity to wrestle back.

Kunshier said Pleski had been feeling under the weather and didn’t seem prepared to take on Hedin.

“We were shocked,” Kunshier said. “He came out and just wasn’t ready. I know he was battling some illness, not to make an excuse, but he just wasn’t himself. This was definitely motivation for next year to come out ready to go in that first round.”

Senior Austin Boniface was able to grab a top-five finish at the state tournament to close his high school career. The Ranger wrestler defeated Jeff Flickinger (24-9) of Brainerd-Pillager by fall to advance past the first round.

Boniface then defeated a solid Eastview competitor, Jacob Rukavina (37-7), in the second round with a late-match fall before falling to Rochester John Marshall senior Tim Moore (19-1) by decision.

The semifinal loss to Moore placed Boniface up against Joseph Carpenter (40-7) of Moorhead, who won by fall over the Ranger grappler.

Boniface clinched fifth place with an injury default win over Cory Berry (36-10) of Champlin Park.

“I think Austin wanted to finish higher and was a favorite to be in that finals match,” Kunshier said. “He was probably disappointed, but still, we couldn’t ask for a better leader. Austin steadily improved from an average wrestler to a very, very good wrestler, and he put a lot of time in in the off-season and was a great leader by example rather than just words.”