by Jason Olson
Coon Rapids will continue to have a strong wrestling program in the coming years if its ninth grade team has anything to say about it.
The Cardinals ninth grade team won the Minnesota Ninth Grade League Team State Tournament, St. Francis finished fourth and Anoka was among the field of 24 teams in the Jan. 21 championship tournament.
Coon Rapids came into the state tournament with an 11-2 record, unranked and hoped to improve on a fifth place finish from 2011.
“State championships are very difficult, even for good teams and what makes this tournament so difficult and special is that it includes all three classes, so it is in effect a true state tournament,” Coon Rapids varsity coach Bob Adams said.
Both regular season losses came against Hastings and St. Francis while Hastings downed St. Francis 43-30 in the championship round after building a 31-0 lead.
The Cardinals opened with a 41-36 win over Eastview thanks in part to eighth-grade heavyweight Hank ‘The Tank’ Lovik who picked up his lone win of the tournament at a key time with a dramatic 10-6 win for the team win.
Coach Noah Glenn said, “Lovik inspired our guys and gave us new life.” That momentum only grew over the next four matches.
Coon Rapids added a 49-22 win over Mora in the second round. Bloomington Kennedy was the next opponent in the championship quarterfinals as they also couldn’t stop the surging Coon Rapids team in a 64-18 win. Albert Lea fell to Coon Rapids 47-36 in the semifinal to set up the championship bout.
Cardinals 152-pounder Alex Calderilla overcame a shoulder injury and refused to sit out against the Tigers. Glenn said the freshman basically wrestled with one arm.
“We had nobody else to fill that spot and sent Alex out to just not get pinned and save us a few points. Much to our surprise Alex did far more than that and pinned his opponent. That performance was the difference between winning and losing that dual.”
Calderilla was one of 17 Cardinal wrestlers on the team which produced 24 pins and 46 wins out of 85 matches. Calderilla went 5-0 with three pins and didn’t surrender a point in two shutout victories.
Blane Tschida, No. 4 ranked at 106 pounds, wrestled one class higher at 113 pounds but still emerged with three falls and five wins.
Josh Bryant (106 pounds) had two pins, Jarod Julkowski (120) had two pins, Michael Bothwell (132) had three pins and Tyler Berdahl (170) won both of his matches by pins and each wrestler turned in a perfect record.
Cardinals 95-pounder Alex Davis went 4-1 with one forfeit and two falls.
St. Francis escaped its first opponent, Milaca, with a 33-32 win before reaching the semifinals after a 43-30 win over Farmington. Hastings got the best of the Saints in the semifinals for a 55-21 score to send them into a third place bout against another top group – Albert Lea, which beat the Saints 42-36 to take home the third place trophy.
Anoka opened the tournament with a 47-27 win over KMS before Albert Lea dashed the Tornadoes’ hopes with a 48-28 loss in the second round. Anoka won its next two matches in the consolation bracket (54-23 over Moorhead and 43-38 over Mora) to set up a meeting with Milaca for the Tier 1 consolation finals. The Wolves were too strong in the end and won 46-33.
Cardinals take to Eastview
While the ninth-graders were busy at state, the rest of the Coon Rapids squad took to the 12-team field at Eastview Invitational and finished sixth in the individual-based tournament Jan. 21.
Shakopee scored 210 points to win the team title with 13 place winners followed by Scott West with 196 points and a tournament-high six weight class champions or runner-ups.
Coon Rapids was sixth with 112.50 points with seven place winners.
Coon Rapids’ Michael Burckhardt (ranked No. 5 at 195 pounds) sailed through the first two rounds at 220 pounds with falls at 1:14 and 59 seconds before being pressed against River Falls’ (Wis.) Tyson Bystrom (ranked No. 10 in Wisconsin) in the finals but emerged with a 5-4 decision for the lone Cardinals individual champion. “Michael displayed a huge heart and gutted out what looked like a potential loss,” Adams said. “He kept the pressure on Bystrom with numerous take down attempts that were well defended.”
Trailing 4-3 with 10 seconds left Burckhardt looked to record a take down but the referee said he was out of bounds. “He refused to say die and scored another take down at the edge of the mat,” Adams said for the lone Cardinals title.
Burckhardt’s teammate Shad Olson, ranked No. 8 at 220 pounds, was one match away from an All-Coon Rapids final. He lost a 3-1 decision to Bystrom then another loss before winning his fifth-place match over Eastview’s Adam Foreman by fall 2:59.
Top-ranked heavyweight Tanner Lowe ran into a tough couple matches en route to a runner-up finish. He opened with a pin of Wayzata’s Chandler Wright in 3:15 to set up one of the top bouts of the tournament.
Lowe faced No. 2 ranked Corey Anderson of Shakopee in the semifinals and came away with a 2-1 win with a take down in overtime to reach the finals.
Scott West’s (Class AA) Michael Kroells, ranked No. 1 nationally and a University of Minnesota recruit, pinned Lowe in 2:55 to win the tournament title.
Cardinals 182-pounder Brandt Halseth, ranked No. 7 in Class AAA, lost to Farmington’s Mat Becker by a 6-5 decision in the championship final to place runner-up.
Senior captain Darren Gagne won his third place bout at 138 points with a 3-1 decision over Shakopee’s Patrick Casey. Riley Lawson finished third at 170 pounds with an emphatic 18-3 tech fall win over Eastview’s Greg Howard in the final.
Alex Wiser placed fifth at 195 pounds for the Cardinals by pinning Wayzata’s Lev Sidorenko in 4:47. He reached the fifth-place match after a heartbreaking 11-9 loss in overtime to Eastview’s Edgar Garcia.
Before the action Saturday, Coon Rapids handed Monticello a 31-17 defeat Jan. 19. Jordy Peterson (113 pounds) and Kyle Eilola (132) both lost varsity debuts.
Saints stumble at Champlin Park
While the St. Francis ninth grade team had its state meet, the varsity team traveled to Champlin Park for its Rebel Duals tournament Jan. 21.
The Saints began with a 37-35 win over Hibbing before losing to Albert Lea 48-26 and Maple Grove 45-33.
St. Francis dropped a North Suburban Conference dual to Chisago Lakes 33-30 Jan. 20.
The match went back and fourth as the Wildcats won the opening two matches before the Saints came back with back-to-back pins by Tyler Dahlstrom (120 pounds) at 1:25 and Aaron Wilson (126) 5:56 to lead 12-9.
Chisago Lakes won the next three matches as Quade Zupko pinned Ross Perkins 39 seconds into their match at 132 pounds. Bobby and Mark Sontag won the following two matches by close decisions to take a 21-12 lead.
St. Francis’ Taylor Charles scored the quickest fall of the evening with a fall 28 seconds into the 152-pound match to make it 21-18.
Chisago Lakes added two more decision wins to lead 27-18 before back-to-back falls by the Saints, first by Conan Sandberg at 182 pounds at 3:23 and Anthony Norman at 195 pounds at 1:57 to take a 30-28 lead with two matches left.
Chisago Lakes won both upper weight matches by decisions. Jonah Westbury defeated St. Francis’ Nate Lipinski by a 3-1 score at 220 pounds followed by heavyweight Chase Kammerer downed Sam Gerlach with a 4-0 decision.
Andover falls to Elks
The Huskies continued its way through the Northwest Suburban Conference with a 34-29 loss at Elk River Jan. 19.
Andover’s Connor Schlotfedt began with an 11-1 major decision.
The Elks won three of the next four matches. The lone Huskies win came from Tyler Mattson’s fall at 1:46 at 126 pounds.
Andover’s Sam Stewart picked up a fall 15 seconds into his bout at 160 pounds and Corey Parsons followed with a 12-4 major decision at 182 pounds.