In a match featuring two undefeated teams in the Central Lakes Conference, Alexandria could not quite keep up with the depth of the Willmar wrestling team in a 35-24 dual meet at Jefferson High School on Friday.
Alexandria built an early 18-12 lead thanks to a major decisions from Adam Johnson at 113 pounds, Dylan Kreise at 120 pounds, Dustin Neu at 152 pounds and decisions by Trent Piepenburg at 132 pounds and Blake Olhausen at 138 pounds.
But Willmar’s depth in the heavier weight classes helped it rebound and take a 26-18 lead in the dual after the 182 pound match.
Alexandria’s Justin Cumberbatch made things interesting at 195 pounds by pinning his opponent to reduce Willmar’s lead to 26-24. But Willmar closed out the meet with a decision by Matt Hennes at 220 pounds and a pin by Leon Richards at 285 pounds for the 35-24 victory.
Heading into his match with Alexandria down eight team points, Cumberbatch said he had the mindset to just wrestle his best.
“I wasn’t really focused on getting six,” Cumberbatch said. “I knew if I was wrestling the best I could that I would do my best, and if I was concentrated then anything could happen.”
Piepenburg also helped out the Cardinals with a win over Austin Miley at 132 pounds. Miley was ranked 10th in the state heading into Friday’s match and Piepenburg knew it would be a close contest.
“When I went out there, I knew it was going to be a tough match and you’ve got to go out there and wrestle your best,” Piepenburg said. “I think that’s what I did. You’ve got to leave nothing behind.”
Illness also did not do Alexandria any favors with Mike Schluter and Tryg Burgau out of the lineup.
Alexandria head coach Ellison still felt his wrestlers competed well even though they did not win. After watching their junior varsity wrestle competitively earlier in the night, Ellison told his wrestlers to keep the momentum going.
“The JV guys set the tone, they wrestled well and I said, ‘all you’ve got to do is follow them,’” Ellison said. “And they did; they wrestled really well.”