Anoka not only honored its vast number of individual wrestling state champions during Alumni Night before its home opener Dec. 21, but it reserved the date for annual rivalry match against Coon Rapids (5-6 overall, 3-1 Northwest Suburban Conference).
The match-up brought together the top two programs in the Northwest Suburban Conference as wrestling fans were treated to several close matches before Anoka hoisted the traveling trophy in a 34-28 win.
Now known for a pair of golden wrestling shoes atop the traveling trophy, the rivalry was one-sided for its first three years as Coon Rapids not only topped Anoka but also won three of the last four Northwest Suburban Conference championships.
“This was a huge win for us and my win was huge, too, because Coon Rapids is our biggest rival and this was by far one of my favorite matches of the season,” said Anoka senior captain Kodi Krone about the much-anticipated match. Krone lost his 145-pound bout against the Cardinals captain Nate Julkowski 12-7.
Krone talked about the confidence level inside the practice room after a big win like this. “Confidence from this will carry into the wrestling room and hopefully carry on through the Rumble [on the Red tournament],” he said.
While Anoka had an evening of firsts, Coon Rapids had its consecutive conference winning streak stopped at 29 matches, dating back to 2009.
Coon Rapids took a 16-12 lead with wins by captains Joe Anderson and Nate Julkowski at 138 and 145 pounds, respectively.
That was as close to a victory as the Cardinals would get as Anoka won the final five matches, including two by pins.
Anoka came in with four undefeated wrestlers – sophomore Preston Flaherty (132), junior Brandon Krone (160), sophomore Matt Njos (170) and senior captain Jon Tawfick (138).
Tornadoes co-head coach Kurt Werk said they wanted to build confidence at this point of the season, heading into the second half of the season.
“When I sat down with Todd to make the schedule, we wanted to make sure we were building confidence all year,” Werk said as they scheduled opponents to help a young squad learn how to win early.
“Right now we’re finding a way to pull out a win, either with the lightweights or middle weights or upperweights coming through for us.”
In perhaps a precursor of things to come, Anoka began the match with an unforeseen pin as eighth-grader Calvin Germainaro scored the first take down of the evening on Coon Rapids’ seventh-grader Chris Bothwell and translated that into a fall 28 seconds into the second period. The fall gave the Tornadoes an early 6-0 lead. Knowing they would give up six points by forfeiting the final match of the evening, earning maximum points helped set the initial tone.
Tornadoes eighth-grader Cole Eischens earned a 4-2 decision at 113 pounds over Coon Rapids ninth-grader Josh Bryant to extend the dual points margin to 9-0. Bryant, who wrestled at 106 pounds last season, might return to the spot if he can cut the weight needed to qualify.
Cardinals coach Bob Adams believed they would have won after Bryant earned a pin last season but knew the opening bouts would be tough to score points.
“We thought we had a chance in the next five matches and several were very close decisions and one went into overtime,” he said. “But give Anoka credit, they wanted it more than us tonight and outworked us. We’ll put this behind us and get ready for the Rumble [on the Red].”
Both squads will compete in the large, winter break tournament in Fargo Dec. 28-29.
Coon Rapids sophomore 120-pounder Jarod Julkowski made it 9-6 as he pinned Anoka ninth grader Josh Schrodek with 14.7 seconds left on the clock. Julkowski had control of the match with a 13-1 lead after the second period.
Coon Rapids junior Jordan Peterson led early and held on for an 11-8 win over Anoka sophomore Liam Strong at 126 pounds.
Peterson led 3-2 after the first period and 5-2 after the second period. Strong, who competed on JV all season, tried to close the gap toward the end of the second period but couldn’t finish off his move to score any points.
A thrilling final period included Strong throwing Peterson which resulted in a brief stoppage in the match as Peterson regained the lead 8-7. He went on to win the bout 11-8 to tie the team score at 9-9.
Anoka’s Flaherty needed overtime to dismiss Cardinals senior Cooper Anderson at 132 pounds. Flaherty took a comfortable 8-2 lead after the first period before Anderson took a 10-8 lead into the third period after scoring a near fall at the end of the period. Flaherty scored two points with 15 second left in regulation to force extra time and ended the match with a take down early in overtime.
Anoka regained the lead 12-9.
Needing team points, Coon Rapids coach Bob Adams pulled sophomore Kiyanu Baker out of the lineup in favor of senior Joe Anderson for the 138 pound match against Anoka’s Tawfick. Anderson was listed at 126 pounds, which gave Tawfick the weight advantage, but in the end Tawfick suffered his first loss of the season.
“We had to gamble to get team points at that point and that’s why we used Joe in that spot,” Adams said.
Anderson earned a key 15-7 major decision which helped the Cardinals pull ahead for the first time, 13-12.
A match among senior captains went the way of Coon Rapids’ Nate Julkowski who recorded a 12-7 decision against Anoka’s Kodi Krone to make it 16-12 in favor of the Cardinals.
Anoka went on to win the remaining final five matches, including falls by Anoka junior Sam Begin (152), 1:40 into the match as the Tornadoes retook the lead 18-16. Anoka junior Brandon Krone followed with a fall, 4:23 into his 160 pound match against Cardinals sophomore Levi Brenning who continued to wrestle in place of sophomore Tyler Berdahl while he recovers from a concussion. Adams hopes to have him back in the line-up for the Rumble on the Red tournament Dec. 28-29.
Anoka’s Njos earned a 13-2 major decision against Coon Rapids sophomore Alex Calderilla at 170 pounds. The win gave the Tornadoes a 28-16 lead with four bouts left. Anoka senior Royce Myren pulled out a competitive 5-4 decision against Jonathon Chmilowsky at 182 pounds to nearly put the match out of reach, 31-16.
Jake Olson was up next for the Tornadoes at 195 pounds. Coon Rapids needed pins at 195 and 220 pounds to win the match.
Olson controlled the match against Cardinals senior Alex Wiser, who was battling an injured shoulder with a brace and T-shirt. Wiser’s furious attempt to score points in the final 30 seconds fell short and Olson ran off the mat into the arms of co-head coach Todd Springer, who lifted the nearly 200-pound wrestler with ease, as the dual was over on paper as Anoka led 34-16.
Coon Rapids junior Shad Olson wasn’t going to give up against Anoka ninth-grader Jeremy Rodman at 220 pounds. After two stoppages because of Rodman’s bloody nose, Olson managed to wrestle Rodman to the mat and scored a fall with 2.3 seconds left in the first period and make it 34-22.
Olson was ready to make his debut at 220 pounds after cutting significant weight to qualify for the spot.
“He’s worked really, really hard to get there and Shad looks great and is quick for a kid his size,” Adams said. Olson will give the Cardinals a tough one-two punch at the upperweights, he said.
Anoka forfeit in the heavyweight position giving Cardinal senior Jacob Lopez the win in favor of top-ranked Michael Burckhardt for the final score 34-28.
The Cardinals handed Elk River a 43-24 loss one week earlier. The match was highlighted by Burckhardt’s 100th career win which moved him into 11th place on the Cardinals all-time wins list.
Christmas tourney in Rochester
Prior to the big match, Coon Rapids took part in the Minnesota Christmas Tournament in Rochester Dec. 14-15.
As one of 37 teams at one of the top tournaments in the nation, experience was key for the Cardinals, who placed 26th.
Section 7AAA foe St. Michael-Albertville won the tournament over runner-up Apple Valley by nine points, while Kasson-Mantorville finished third by 2.5 points. St. Francis garnered 48 team points to place 32nd.
Cardinals senior heavyweight Michael Burckhardt was the only Coon Rapids wrestler to place as he finished runner-up. He won four straight matches before losing to Kasson-Mantorville junior Sam Stoll 9-1 in the finals.
Adams said Burckhardt, at 260 pounds, looked small compared with Stoll, who tipped the weights at 275 pounds and is the top-ranked heavyweight in Class AA.
Burckhardt reached the finals after a four overtime win over Totino-Grace’s Joe Schiller 3-2 in the semifinals.
Joe Anderson went 4-2 at 126 pounds and Nate Julkowski went 3-2.
St. Francis’ Taylor Charles beat Alex Calderilla by a 7-2 decision in the 160-pound first round. Calderilla rebounded with a pin in 1:38 against West Fargo’s Anjelo Shepard in the following round.
Conan Sandberg was pinned at 7:13 of his seventh-place match at 220 pounds against Watertown-Mayer’s Jon Ernst.
Panthers sixth at Ruckus
Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony placed sixth at the East Ridge Ruckus Dec. 15. Eagan held off host East Ridge for the title, while the Panthers topped Eastview by seven points for sixth place.
The Panthers had seven-place winners and one weight-class champion, Danny Chlebeck (120). Chlebeck improved his record to 11-1.
Riley Altenburg (106, 5-8 overall record) and Justin May (145, 5-2) earned runner-up finishes at their respective weights. Heavyweight Jeremiah Labelle improved his season record to 7-7 after placing fourth. Desmond Johnson (113) and Dan Kaminski (132) each placed fifth and Isaiah Roufs (126) was sixth.
Chisago Lakes handed the Panthers a 57-15 North Suburban Conference loss Dec. 20. Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony forfeited five matches as it went 2-6 in matches wrestled. The Panthers’ lone pin came from Jacob Snyder at 220 pounds. Snyder pinned Wildcat Kevin Schmidt 50 seconds into the bout. Chlebeck record a 9-3 decision win over Aaron Sistrunk at 120 pounds.
Bengals finish strong
Blaine ended its pre-holiday schedule with an impressive 43-24 Northwest Suburban Conference win Dec. 21. The win featured four Blaine pins including a match-quickest fall in 38 seconds as Blaine’s Caleb Butler pinned Osseo’s Mike Lillis at 220 pounds. Blaine won the final five matches, three by pin and one by forfeit after Osseo built a 24-16 lead after winning five straight matches in the middle weights.
Blaine’s Glenn Meyers earned a fall at 3:07 of his 170-pound match against Badhasa Wako to begin the final rally for the home team.
Andover dropped a 59-13 Northwest Suburban Conference loss Dec. 21 and will compete at the Rumble on the Red in Fargo, N.D., Dec. 28-29.