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Card wrestlers dominate on their way to 3-0

Alexandria's Gage Zieske (top) takes control of Hunter Rajkowski during their match at 106 pounds on Thursday night. Zieske went on to win the match 5-3 to help the Cardinals to a 52-18 win.

The Alexandria wrestling team got a welcomed run-away victory on Thursday night after getting tested early this season by St. Cloud Tech and Sartell in a couple close wins.

There was no drama against Sauk Rapids-Rice on Thursday as the Cardinals moved to 3-0 in CLC matches with a 52-18 win over the Storm.

“We were expecting a good score,” head coach Tom Ellison said. “Not to put down Sauk Rapids. They’ve got a young team and they really work hard, but we knew if we just be aggressive, that was our message right away. We wanted to be the guys who scored first every time. We carried it from there.”

Alexandria was able to do that right off the bat as 8th-grader Gage Zieske earned a 5-3 win at 106 pounds. Ben Johnson followed with a 7-2 win that made it 6-0 before Taylor Rau of Sauk Rapids pulled his team even with a pin at 120 pounds in just 32 seconds.

The Cardinals responded by winning their next seven matches. Dylan Kriese won by major decision (9-1) and Trent Piepenburg edged Korey Keske 6-4 at 132 pounds before Blake Olhausen got Alexandria’s first pin of the night in 3:29 against David Nelson.

“I felt good,” Olhausen said. “I was pretty confident that I could go out there and do pretty well against him…our team, they all work hard and do what they’re supposed to. We support each other and always try to do what’s best for the team.”

Senior Jacob Schlitgen followed suit right after Olhausen, picking up a pin of his own in the first period at 138 pounds. Next were a couple forfeit wins at 152 and 160 pounds and a pin in 3:40 by Quintin Kluver-Longfellow at 170 pounds.

Richard Carriveau gave the Storm its second pin of the night at 182 pounds, and Sauk Rapids would get another pin in the heavyweight division with Adam Gesell winning in 1:11. It wasn’t nearly enough, though, after Shawn Nelson won by a 6-3 decision at 220 and Justin Cumberbatch dominated his opponent early on before earning a pin in 2:37.

Cumberbatch has made the move from 220 pounds last year to the 195-pound weight class this season. It looked like a natural fit for the junior, who has his sights set on returning to the state tournament after taking second at the higher weight class a year ago.

“It feels good,” Cumberbatch said of the jump down in weight classes. “It’s a good weight for me and keeping me in really good shape having to run to make weight. It’s also keeping my cardio up so it’s a win win for me.”

It’s also been a winning situation for this team early on. The Cardinals had high expectations coming into the season and three wins through the first three conference matches has done nothing to dampen those.

“It’s huge because we wanted to make sure that we set ourselves up right off the bat,” Ellison said. “We had a couple big conference matches in our first week, two of the better teams in Tech and Sartell. We knew that Sauk Rapids was down a little as far as the strength of their team, but they have some awfully good competitors.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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