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Breaking the tie

Alexandria’s Trent Piepenburg (top) gets a hold of Sartell’s Noah Peichel during the 132-pound match against the Sabres last Thursday night. Piepenburg won that match 5-2 to give the Cardinals some much-needed team points on their way to a criteria win. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

For the second straight year, a match between the Alexandria and Sartell wrestling teams needed a tiebreaker criterion to decide the outcome.

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But this year the criteria favored the Cardinals. After the match finished 32-32, Alexandria was awarded the home victory on Thursday in the eighth tiebreaking criteria, thanks to a technical fall by Blake Olhausen at 138 pounds.

Both teams also tied last season, but Sartell ended up winning that matchup in a tiebreaker. The win ultimately gave Sartell sole possession of first place in the Central Lakes Conference. Alexandria head coach Tom Ellison said he was happy to finish on the winning side of the battle this year.

“It feels a lot better than last year because we’re on top,” he said. “I think Sartell has a great program, and they’ve got great kids. They wrestle hard and we have such evenly-matched programs.”

Sartell jumped ahead early in the match Thursday, picking up an 11-1 major decision at 106-pounds and a pin at 120 to take a 10-6 lead. Sartell forfeited at 113-pounds, and a pin by Dylan Kriese at 126-pounds then gave Alexandria a 12-10 lead.

A decision for Alexandria’s Trent Piepenburg at 132 pounds and a technical fall for Olhausen at 138 pounds helped the Cardinals build one of its largest leads of the night at 20-10.

Piepenburg, who is one of two seniors in the lineup for the Cardinals, picked up his 101st win Thursday. He knew heading into a crucial battle with Sartell that he needed a victory to keep the momentum going.

“I knew that he was going to be a good wrestler,” Piepenburg said. “I just went out there and had to wrestle my best match. I know I could have done better but a win’s a win.”

After Sartell picked up a win at 145 pounds, Alexandria’s Dustin Neu took a crucial 4-3 overtime decision at 152 pounds to give the Cardinals a 23-13 lead. The Cardinals coaching staff was happy that Neu was able to keep strong in a come-from-behind victory that was crucial for the team’s score.

“Dustin, he’s just a hard worker, he’s always moving out on the mat,” Ellison said.

“We knew that if he kept moving he’d probably wear the guy out and catch him later.”

Before he wrestled Sartell’s Zach Motschke, Neu said he did not know much about his opponent other than he likes to take advantage of his length. Neu’s strategy once the match went into overtime was to get off the mat with a quick takedown.

“I was looking for nothing big, I just wanted to get that win to get our team some points,” he said.

Sartell then picked up a decision at 160 pounds and a pin at 170 pounds to pull within one point of Alexandria. A decision at 182 pounds for Sartell’s Daniel Vitale gave them a 26-23 lead.

That is when Sartell head coach Cody Olson decided to have wrestler Creedance McDermond move up a class to wrestle Alexandria’s Shawn Nelson at 220 pounds rather than have him face off against the state’s number-one ranked wrestler at 195 Justin Cumberbatch.

Ellison said the strategy was a smart move, and it nearly paid off for Olson.

“He obviously wanted to get the wrestler up to face Shawn, he knew that he had to try to get a win at 220 to try and pull ahead,” Ellison said. “Shawn was able to come up with that takedown late in the match and seal the win for us.”

Nelson was able to take down McDermond with less than a minute left in the third period and hang on for a 3-2 win. The decision gave Alexandria a 32-26 lead.

Ellison noticed that both wrestlers at 220 pounds were really thinking strategy as they faced off in a crucial match for both teams.

“Not a lot of points scored, but a lot of positioning and a lot of thinking going on out there, I think,” he said. “The guys wrestled well.”

Alexandria forfeited the next match at 285 pounds, and with the team score at 32-32 the decision was made in tiebreaker criteria.

With the victory, Alexandria moved to 2-0 in CLC matches this season. Although the team has goals to win the conference and section, Ellison was hesitant to mark Alexandria as the favorite after knocking off Sartell. They still have tough contests against other CLC opponents left on the schedule.

“We’re just another team in the conference, and there are some good teams in the conference,” Ellison said. “Brainerd, Willmar, those teams have yet to be faced and they have very good squads, so we’ll see how it shakes out.”

Alexandria’s wrestlers agreed that they still have a lot of work to do this season. But Piepenburg expects the Cardinals to have the opportunity to finish on top of the CLC and possibly earn a team state bid.

“I think if we keep our heads on straight and wrestle well, I think we will definitely have a chance,” he said.




106 – Rylee Molitor, SART, major decision over Ben Bogart, 11-1; 113 – Mitch Kremer, ALEX, won by forfeit; 120 – Jake Fernholz, SART, won by pin over Adam Johnson; 126 – Dylan Kriese, ALEX, won by pin over Sam Krauel; 132 – Trent Piepenburg, ALEX, won by decision over Noah Peichel, 5-2; 138 – Blake Olhausen, ALEX, won by technical fall over Connor Dols, 19-4; 145 – Jon Pelach, SART, won by decision over Jacob Schiltgen, 7-2; 152 – Dustin Neu, ALEX, won by decision over Zach Motschke, 4-3; 160 – Hodari Johnson, SART, won by decision over Jake Nienaber, 7-3; 170 – Abe Anderson, SART, won by pin over Jay Kohls; 182 – Daniel Vitale, SART, won by major decision Quintin Kluver-Longfellow, 12-4; 195 – Justin Cumberbatch, ALEX, won by forfeit; 220 – Shawn Nelson, ALEX, won by decision over Creedance McDermond of Sartell, 3-2; 285 – Ryan Zayas, SART, won by forfeit

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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