by Jason Olson
Anoka wrestling coach Todd Springer painted a red stripe down the middle of his head after his team lived up to his bet.
The Tornadoes won its first Ninth Grade League Region 6 title Jan. 28 with four individual weightclass champions and will send five to this weekend’s state Ninth Grade League tournament.
Springer walked into practice Monday morning with the new hairdo after asking how many would make it to state.
“They told me three,” he said. “I challenged them to at least five and the team needed to win the section tournament because we have never won before and I would dye my hair. Well, they did it! Today I wear my new red rooster top for [the program].”
Anoka edged Cambridge-Isanti by 4.5 points as Coon Rapids and St. Francis tied for third place with 140 points each. Andover placed seventh, two points ahead of Champlin Park and Blaine tied Zimmerman for ninth place with 68.5 points each among the field of 12 teams.
Anoka captured four individual champions including seventh grader Dalton Miller (120); ninth grader Matt Njos (145); eighth grader Jeremy Rodman (195) and ninth grader Mike Maki (285). Eighth grader Connor Sorkilmo (132) will also take part in state.
Springer said he’s enjoyed working with the ninth graders this season and positive results have come as a biproduct.
“At the beginning [of the season] I challenged everyone on the team to ‘not quit on this team and we will do great things,’” he said. “Yes. This will translate to future success.”
Even at the younger age group, middle-school level, Anoka has had a very successful sesaon as it won the end-of-the-year district meet and a dual tournament at Coon Rapids Middle School. “Our youth team is still undefeated season and wrestling well,” Springer said. “It has motivated everyone from coaches to parents at all levels to work harder than ever and come together as one big Anoka wrestling family to do some crazy things like dye your hair.”
“I thought after 14 years-plus of coaching it was time to spice it up. Now if our varsity can get three wins this week I can pick up my 200th coaching victory.”
Anoka forfeited at two weights 170 and 185 pounds.
“We couldn’t afford to forfeit another weight and still be competitive,” Springer said.
Miller defeated Andover’s Matt McLaughlin with a 16-8 major in the final. McLaughlin then lost to Cambridge’s Dylan Auren in the second-place contest 11-2.
Njos improved to 16-1 overall with one fall and two decisions to hoist the weightclass title and Rodman, an eighth grader, added a fall and decision enroute to his championship title.
Maki improved to 11-1 overall as he won both of his matches, including a 9-7 overtime decision over Rogers eighth grader Andrew Piehl.
Tornadoes eighth grader Connor Sorkilmo lost in the 132-pound championship to Cambridge’s David Kent by a 16-6 major decision. Sorkilmo picked up two falls in the earlier rounds to raise his season record to 13-2.
Blaine dominated the light weights as Joe Carlson captured the title at 106 pounds and Malik Stewart won the 113 title.
Carlson swept his way into the finals with three falls before downing Coon Rapids’ Josh Bryant with an 8-2 decision in the final.
Stewart added back-to-back technical falls before winning a 7-1 decision in the championships over Cambridge’s Monty Fredriksen.
Coon Rapids’ Kiyanu Baker won the 138-pound title, while four finished runner-up in their respective classes including Alex Davis (94), Joey Bothwell (100), Josh Bryant (106) and Ryan Jones (182).
Baker improved to 17-4 overall with two falls (55 seconds and 3:07) to reach the finals where he defeated St. Francis’ Kain Lee 4-3.
Andover had two third-place finishers including Matt McLauglin (120) and Gibson Board (100) to highlight the Huskies performance.
St. Francis had two finish runner-up including Lee (138) and Anthony Norman (195) and third-place finishes from Nick Kauppi (182) and Blaine Nordin (170).
Andover dropped a 42-25 loss to Centennial in its Northwest Suburban Conference match Jan. 26.
The Bengals improved their Northwest Suburban Conference mark with a 37-24 dual win over Elk River Jan. 27.
Blaine opened with three straight wins through the first four matches as a double forfeit at 106 was the lone non-victory for the Bengals in the start.
Blaine led 10-0 with a decision from Joseph Carlson (106 pounds), Malik Stewart earned a 10-2 major decision at 113 pounds, followed by Jacob Keller’s 8-7 decision win over Andrew Perry at 120 pounds.
The Elks came back with back-to-back wins, including Evan Caldon’s pin against Blaine’s Jameson Allen 56 seconds into their 132-pound bout.
Jonah Allen defended the home mat for the Bengals with a 4-2 overtime decision at 138 pounds.
Glenn Meyers added a fall at the 5:49 mark of his 170-pound match to add to Blaine’s lead.
Bengals standout Caleb Butler scored a fall at the 5:00 mark of his 195-pound match and teammate Aaron Martin made it back-to-back falls for the Bengals with his fall at 220 pounds coming at 5:44.
The Cardinals added two Northwest Suburban Conference wins in addition to a third win over Willmar in a quadrangular meet at Coon Rapids Jan. 26.
Coon Rapids topped Armstrong 58-10 and Maple Grove 40-27 before a 35-33 win over Willmar.
The two conference wins moved the Cardinals closer to a third straight NWSC title. Nate Julkowski and Austin Lubinski returned to action after being out for three weeks due to injuries. A few Cardinals were held out of action due to match counts or sickness.
Willmar opened with back-to-back wins for a 9-0 lead before Coon Rapids came back wtih consecutive wins by Jake Montague (120) with a 2-1 decision and Nate Julkowski (126) with an 8-2 decision.
Darren Gagne added a tech fall at 138 for the Cardinals.
Three falls in the upper-middleweights by Tyler Berdahl (160), Brandt Halseth (170) and Riley Lawson (182) helped Coon Rapids take a 29-21 lead with three matches left.
Willmar’s Martin Cubrera pinned Alex Wiser at 195 pounds in another quick fall, this time at 43 seconds to make it 29-27 in the team score.
Michael Burkhardt needed the win for Coon Rapids and did just that by pinning CJ Barkley with six seconds left in the first period of their 220-pound bout to make it 35-27.
Cass Herzoy pinned Coon Rapids’ heavyweight Shad Olson in the final match of dual in 26 seconds for the final score.
Spring Lake Park
The Panthers finished 11th out of 13 teams at the Ninth Grade League Region 5 meet Jan. 28.
Tristan Wehmas won both of his matches at 195 pounds to win the weight class title by pinning Forest Lake’s Jake Hansen at 4:27.
Danny Chlebeck finished second at 106 pounds after winning his third-place match with a 21-9 major before topping Forest Lake’s Dean Beggs by an injury default in the true second-place match.
Eldin Hegic placed third after winning his third-place match by fall at 2:59 which set up a true second-place match which he lost to Maple Grove’s Barry Ndip by fall at 2:20.