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Willmar wins battle of unbeatens

Alexandria’s Adam Johnson (top) wrestles Willmar’s Jacob Bollig at 113 pounds during their Central Lakes Conference match on Friday night. Johnson beat Bollig by major decision, but Willmar won the team portion of the match to stay unbeaten in league play and hand Alexandria its first CLC loss of the season, dropping the Cardinals to 5-1. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria wrestling team had a chance to take control of the Central Lakes Conference on Friday in a battle between the two top teams in the standings.

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But Willmar’s depth in the lineup was too much for the Cardinals to overcome in a 35-24 dual victory at Jefferson High School.

The Cardinals had no problem taking an early 18-12 lead in the match with 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.

Piepenburg gave the Cardinals a solid effort by taking a 5-2 decision over Austin Miley, who was ranked 10th in the state heading into the match.

“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.”

Head coach Tom Ellison expected a solid effort from Piepenburg as a senior wrestler who has more than 100 career wins.

“Just knowing Miley, I knew that Trent’s style would match up really well with him,” Ellison said. “Trent has been ranked during the season, too, so we don’t pay too much attention to the rankings.”

Willmar’s depth in the heavier weight classes proved to be too much for the Cardinals. Starting at 160 pounds, Willmar took five of the dual’s final six contests.

Justin Cumberbatch came up with a pin at 195 pounds that at the time brought Alexandria within two team points of Willmar. But a decision by Matt Hennes at 220 pounds and a pin by Leon Richards at 285 pounds helped Willmar close the match with a 35-24 victory.

Cumberbatch had the mindset to just wrestle his best as he prepared for his match with Alexandria down eight team points.

“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.”

Illness also did not do Alexandria any favors with Mike Schluter and Tryg Burgau out of the lineup.

The loss dropped Alexandria to 5-1 against conference opponents while Willmar moved to 4-0. The win places Willmar into the driver’s seat for the CLC title, but they still likely will need wins in duals on the road against Brainerd, Rocori, Sauk Rapids-Rice and at home against Fergus Falls.

The Cardinals also have matches left against CLC opponents Willmar, St. Cloud Apollo and Fergus Falls. The wrestlers are also looking ahead to a home match against Moorhead this Thursday. The Spuds were last year’s Section 8AAA champions.

“We’re still hoping we can wrestle our conference matches out and see if we can’t get all the wins there,” he said. “See if somebody can’t help us in the conference and get Willmar knocked out of there.”

MATCH RESULTS Willmar 35, Alexandria 24

RESULTS – 106 – Clay Carlson (W) won by decision over Ben Bogart, 2-0; 113 – Adam Johnson (A) won by major decision over Jacob Bollig, 11-0; 120 – Dylan Kreise (A) won by major decision over Jonathan Linden, 9-0; 126 – Logan Walkow (W) won by pin over Chris Jorud, 1:25; 132 – Trent Piepenburg (A) won by decision over Austin Miley, 5-2; 138 – Blake Olhausen (A) won by decision over Zach Lueders, 7-2; 145 – Estevan Navarro (W) won by decision over Tristan Johnson, 10-7; 152 – Dustin Neu (A) won by major decision over Levi Milhausen, 15-2; 160 – Colten Carlson (W) won by tech fall over Jake Nienaber, 20-5; 170 – Vaughn Johnson won by pin over Jay Kohls, 0:39; 182 – Kory Welgraven (W) won in sudden victory over Quintin Kluver-Longfellow, 7-2; 195 – Justin Cumberbatch (A) won by pin over Jalen Cabrera, 1:49; 220 – Matt Hennes (W) won by decision over Shawn Nelson, 6-1; 285 – Leon Richards (W) won by pin over Dan Oberg, 2:21

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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