One great sign of a healthy rivalry is a traveling trophy and the much-anticipated Anoka-Coon Rapids wrestling dual meet lived up its trophy, the Golden Boots, after a golden performance by defending champion Anoka in a 39-21 win, Jan. 2.
“Coon Rapids is always a heck of a rivalry for us and they keep improving every day,” Anoka coach Todd Springer said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do but everyone is gelling really well and this is a fun group to be around. They work really hard.”
The match has typically decided the Northwest Suburban Conference champion and with a 6-0 dual meet record this year, Anoka has won its last 16 conference matches going back to last season.
Coon Rapids finished runner-up with a 9-1 record after winning the previous three conference titles. Since 2004, the Cardinals have six NWSC championships.
Anoka remained ranked eighth in the latest Class AAA state rankings, released Jan. 3, and Coon Rapids went from No. 12 to third in the Lean and Mean portion while individually, the two teams had eight wrestlers make the rankings at their respective weights.
As a result, eight of the 14 matches were decided by fall including the opening three matches.
The 18-point spread is wider than the reality of how close these teams are. Coon Rapids lost four matches by six total points.
Cardinals coach Bob Adams knew they would have trouble with the lower and middle weights, meaning they needed bonus point wins from the upper weights.
Anoka eighth-grader Tyler Eischens and ninth-grader Cal Germinaro gave the visitors a quick 12-0 lead at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively. Eischens is ranked second and Germinaro is seventh in the state at their weights.
Springer said Eischens strains to meet the weight “but he’s a spark plug and never stops. He possesses that confidence, has a great preparation before the match and believes he is going to win every match.”
Eischen made the leap from middle school to varsity this season. As a result he placed second at the Rumble on the Red in Fargo, N.D., Dec. 28 and won the Minnesota Christmas Tournament in Rochester Dec. 21.
Coon Rapids then got a fall, this time by senior Jordy Peterson on Anoka sophomore Josh Schrodek to make the score 12-6.
Coon Rapids junior Josh Bryant scored a 9-6 decision over Cole Eischens at 126 pounds to cut the lead to 12-9 and Cardinals junior Jarod Julkowski tied the match with a dominant 13-5 decision over Anoka’s Liam Strong.
Strong, a junior, scored a late escape with five seconds left to keep the loss to three points instead of a five-point major decision, which would have given Coon Rapids the lead.
The first of two 1-0 decisions came next as Anoka sophomore Hunter DeLeon scored an escape against Cardinals senior Kiyanu Baker in the first period. Baker started on the bottom to start the third period and couldn’t get away from DeLeon. Baker reached his feet, but couldn’t get out of the reach of DeLeon.
Baker won their match at the Rumble on the Red.
The Tornadoes retook at 15-12 and never trailed again.
Anoka’s Preston Flaherty scored a 6-4 decision over Cardinals’ Justin May in the next match at 145 pounds. Both wrestlers opened the season in the rankings with May sixth and Flaherty eighth and didn’t hold back in a competitive match. Flaherty scored an escape at 25 seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead. The period ended with Flaherty scoring a two-point reversal for a 3-2 lead. Strategically, May chose to start the third period on his feet, looking to use his quickness to score points. Flaherty made it 4-2 before the two rolled off the mat. On the restart, May knew he had to take a chance and timed his attack with the whistle to score a single-leg take down to tie the match 4-4. With 45 seconds left and energy levels running low for both, Flaherty countered May and earned a take down for the final score. The win gave Anoka an 18-12 lead.
What’s been the heart of the Tornadoes line-up followed with three wins by seniors, two from pins. Brandon Krone, ranked No. 2 at 152 pounds scored a pin at 1:06 and Matt Njos, ranked No. 2 at 170 scored a pin at 51 seconds.
Sam Begin upset Coon Rapids’ Michael Bothwell (ranked 10th at 160) with a 1-0 decision. Begin split the hold near the edge of the mat before the buzzer at the end of the second period. Bothwell controlled the match, but couldn’t get a take down.
Njos’ pin, which mathematically gave the dual win to Anoka, is putting together a strong resume with a runner-up finish at the Rumble on the Red and third place at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament.
Coon Rapids’ Alex Calderilla moved up a weight to 182 pounds and scored a 5-3 decision, then teammate Tyler Berdahl (ranked sixth at 182 pounds) followed with a pin at 1:10 to cut the Tornadoes lead to 33-21.
After the match, Adams was notified that Calderilla might have sustained a concussion.
Anoka’s 220-pound sophomore Jeremy Rodman continued to build on an outstanding freshman campaign by pinning Coon Rapids counterpart Bailey Ratliff 3:48 into the bout.
Coon Rapids finished the match on a high note thanks to senior heavyweight Shad Olson (ranked 10th), who scored a pin at 5:03 for the final score.
Jason Olson is at