by Samantha Lefebvre
The Coon Rapids wrestling team won its third straight Northwest Suburban Conference championship with an unblemished 9-0 conference record. This is the Cardinals’ fourth conference championship in five years.
“That is one of our goals, but our ultimate goal is to get to the state tournament by winning the section tournament,” Coon Rapids coach Bob Adams said.
With an end goal of reaching the state tournament as a team, the Cardinals, currently ranked sixth in the state in Class AAA, traveled to Foley Feb. 10 for a challenging match up before the section tournament. Foley is ranked third in the state in Class AA and gave the Cardinals the challenge they were looking for with a close 36-27 Falcon victory.
The Cardinals lost the coin toss, giving the Falcons an advantage before the wrestlers even hit the mat. Both teams fought tough the entire match and in the end split the 14 matches 7-7.
“The coin toss cost us 18 points tonight,” Adams said. “We win the coin toss and it is a much different game guaranteed, but that is part of the game too. You’ve got to win the coin toss and out-hustle them out on the mat.”
After a pin apiece after the first two lightest weights, Foley was tied with the Cardinals 6-6. Coon Rapids then pulled away winning the next four matches in a row, giving them a 21-6 lead after captain Darren Gagne at 138 pounds won his match with an 8-2 decision.
“I think I wrestled pretty good, but I think I should have at least majored the kid though,” Gagne said about trying to get one more point for his team score.
Tenth-ranked freshman Tyler Berdahl had a big win for Coon Rapids at the 160-pound weight class with a 14-12 decision over Tyler Bemboom, who is ranked sixth in the state for Foley at the 152-pound weight class.
“He is a goer,” Adams said of Berdahl. “He doesn’t quit, you’ve got to wrestle six minutes to beat him. He is a dangerous wrestler and tonight he showed it.”
In the end the match came down to the final four weight classes. A loss by Brandt Halseth, currently ranked sixth in the state at 170, at the 182-pound weight to Foley’s eighth-ranked Nick Lefebvre tied up the match at 24.
The Cardinals then gave up a pin at the following weight class, 195, giving the Falcons its first lead of the night, 30-24. Michael Burckhardt at 220 needed a pin to tie up the meet again, but ended his match with a 6-1 decision.
A final pin by Foley’s Sam Olson in the heavyweight class over Cardinal’s Shad Olson gave the Falcon’s its 36-27 victory.
“All in all it was a good night,” Adams said. “We came here and we got out of this match what we came here to get, to get better and to get a real tough dual in before our section tournament. And hopefully next week we are ready to go.”
The Cardinals will face Blaine in the first round of the 7AAA Section team tournament in St. Michael-Albertville Feb. 17.
“It is a very tough section so we will see what happens,” Adams said. “We’ll throw them out there and have some fun.”