It was a successful invite at Burnsville on Saturday for the Ranger wrestlers, as Forest Lake had five grapplers finish in the top three in their weight classes. The Rangers tied for third place of 11 teams with Mounds View.
Sophomore Nic Norem kicked off the tournament with back-to-back wins at 152 pounds to earn a spot in the title match. Norem won by decision over Louis Johnson of Mounds View before taking on Champlin Park’s Jacob Vandersteen and winning by major decision. In the title match, Norem fell late in the second period to Troy Urman of Prescott, Wis. to place second overall.
Sophomore Job Walmsey started strong at 120 pounds, winning by fall in the first 40 seconds against Prescott, before losing in the second round. Walmsely wrestled back to defeat Sean Lefleur of Irondale by fall, then pin Malik Byrd of Champlin Park for third place.
Senior Thomas Lillquist made waves at 138 pounds, going 3-1 and winning all three matches by falls on his quest to take third.
Senior Luke Niemczyk also took third place at 170 pounds. The Ranger won by fall in the first round but lost by decision to the eventual champion, Billy Merth of St. Paul Highland Park, currently ranked No. 10 in Class AA. Niemczyk wrestled back to defeat wrestlers from Amery, Wis. and Mounds View to earn third place.
Sophomore Leo Janssen was the final wrestler for the Rangers to take third place at Burnsville. The 182-pounder moved past the first round by bye before falling to Prescott wrestler, Tyler Miller. Janssen then defeated both Champlin Park and Mounds View by decision to place third.
Junior Trevor Wiese went 2-2 at 132 pounds to take fourth place, while junior Joe Rydel earned the same results at 160 pounds. Sophomore Jason Delgado went 2-1 at 113 pounds for fifth place, while junior Sam Finch placed fifth after going 2-2 at 138 pounds. Senior Will Rivard also placed fifth with a tournament record of 2-2.
Forest Lake did not enter wrestlers at 106, 126, 220 or 285 pounds. Junior James Pleski, No. 3 at 138 pounds (Class AAA), did not compete at the Burnsville Invitational due to match count management. Forest Lake also missed some ninth-grade wrestlers who would have otherwise competed on varsity to a freshmen tournament at a separate location.
Eastview took first place overall at Burnsville with 215.5 points, followed by Amery, in second with 212 points. Forest Lake took third alongside the Mustangs with 137 points. The Rangers moved up one spot from last year’s fourth-place finish at the invite.
Head coach Joe Kunshier said things are looking up for the Forest Lake squad.
“I think we’re progressing,” Kunshier said. “I think this tournament is a good mark for us in showing improvement and we’re starting to show our ability level.”
Forest Lake also competed at East Ridge last Thursday and defeated the Raptors, 51-21, for their first dual win of the season. The Rangers are 1-2 overall and next travel to a 7:30 p.m. Hastings meet Thursday, Jan. 9.