Alexandria wrestling: Strategy, balance gives wrestlers the winAlexandria edged out Sauk Rapids-Rice 36-33
By: Lori Mork, Alexandria Echo Press
Justin Cumberbatch’s pin at 220 pounds Thursday night was just enough to boost the Cardinal wrestlers to a 36-33 win over Sauk Rapids-Rice, evening Alexandria’s record in the Central Lakes Conference to 1-1.
Alexandria jumped to a 21-3 lead behind wins from Ben Bogard, Trent Piepenburg, Blake Olhausen and Jacob Schiltgen, and increased the lead to 30-12 before the Storm came barreling back.
“Wrestling shorthanded because of injury and illness, the Cards needed some big wins from some of the team members and they also needed some narrow defeats from others,” said head coach Tom Ellison. “Ben started the dual with a hard fought 8-1 win at 106.
“Dylan knew he had a tough opponent and was required to keep the match close and avoid giving away team points. Dylan came through big by only losing by a decision and three points for Sauk Rapids-Rice.
“Trent, Blake and Jacob then went to work and maximized their opportunity for team points by pinning their opponents,” said Ellison.
It was a little shaky for the Cardinals following Schiltgen’s win as illness left an opening at 138 pounds, and Ellison was required to make some roster moves.
“A decision was made to move Tristan Johnson up a weight class and create an advantage for our team,” said the coach. “Tristan was able to move up a weight class away from the Storm’s best wrestler and avoid big team points for Sauk Rapids. Tristan lost at the 145 weight class, but the move saved the team three points.”
Jake Nienaber, 152 pounds, and Tony Hubbard, 160 pounds, both had wins to give Alexandria a 30-12 lead as Nienaber earned a pin and Hubbard, who moved up two weight classes, took on state-entrant Chris Keske.
“Tony was able to continue his dominance of the middle weight classes with a 3-1 victory,” said Ellison. “Sauk Rapids has a solid lineup in the upper weights, so the lower weights had accomplished what we had hoped to do and that was to give us a solid lead.”
The Storm began to blow from that point, winning two matches by fall and another by forfeit to tie the match 30-30.
“Now we get the win, we just needed to score more than the Storm in the last two matches,” Ellison said. “Justin Cumberbatch displayed why he is one of the best big men in the state by taking care of business and pinning his opponent.
“Then it was up to the heavyweights,” he added. “The Storm put out a junior that is just under the 285 weight limit and the Cards called on 8th grader Dan Oberg.
“Dan has shown us that he can handle the physical nature of wrestling heavyweight in practice and on JV. The question was, could he hand the pressure and the increased intensity of wrestling on varsity with the match on the line.
“Dan responded with an exciting 8-3 loss and preserved the win outright for the Cards.
“If the match would have been tied [on a Sauk Rapids pin], the Cards would have won the dual with tie-breaking criteria, but we wanted it straight up,” he said. “It was exciting as our bench could see Dan gain in confidence that he could finish the whole match. It was exciting for the coaches as it was one of those moments when you get to see an athlete rise to the occasion and perform as you believe they can perform.”
Alexandria will now be off until Thursday, January 3 when they travel to Willmar.
ALEXANDRIA 36, SAUK RAPIDS 33
106 – Ben Bogart, Alex, dec Tony Bemboom 8-1, 113 – Taylor Rau, SR, dec Dylan Kriese 7-1, 120 – Trent Piepenburg, Alex, pinned David Nelson 2:30, 16 – Blake Olhausen, Alex, pinned Korey Keske 3:40, 132 – Jacob Schiltgen, Alex, pinned Blake Rychner 1:40, 138 – Austin Walz, SR, won by forfeit, 145 – Matt Krueger, SR, dec Tristan Johnson 7-4, 152 – Jake Nienaber, Alex, pinned Adam Bratrud 2:48, 160 – Tony Hubbard, Alex, dec Chris Keskie 3-1, 170 – McKinley Lain, Sr, pinned Mike Schluter 1:39, 182 – Dylan Vait, SR, pinned Andrew Moske 3:20, 195 – Charley Rudy, SR, won by forfeit, 220 – Justin Cumberbatch, Alex, pinned Blake Keske, 285 – Trent Klejeske, SR, dec Dan Oberg 7-4.