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Cardinal wrestlers hold off Rocori

Alexandria senior Shawn Nelson (right) battles with an opponent at 220 pounds during a match against Sauk Rapids earlier this season. Nelson didn’t get a win against Rocori last Thursday, but his ability to last all three periods and avoid a pin against the Spartans’ Ryan Vigil secured the team win for the Cardinals and moved them to 5-0 in CLC matches. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

Alexandria wrestling coach Tom Ellison talked at the beginning of the season about how important it would be for his team to take fewer pins this year.

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Last Thursday, the Cardinals’ ability to do that proved to be the difference between a win and a loss in a 30-27 victory over a 9-1 Rocori team. The win moved Alexandria to 5-0 in Central Lakes Conference matches heading into a big conference showdown with unbeaten Willmar in Alexandria tomorrow, Thursday.

“Going into the dual, we knew we were facing a talented team in Rocori,” Ellison said. “They have a season record of 9-1 and have had some impressive wins in that stretch. There were several swing matches in the dual, swing matches being matches that either team had a chance to win and that could swing the momentum in your favor. Our Cardinals were able to win those matches and hold the momentum until the end.”

Senior captain Shawn Nelson didn’t get a win on Thursday but he had one of the more important matches of the meet at 220 pounds. Alexandria was leading by 12 after a forfeit win for Justin Cumberbatch. That meant Nelson could wrap up the team win for Alexandria if he could avoid the pin against Ryan Vigil. That’s exactly what he did as Nelson battled Vigil to the end before losing 7-5. It proved important as Rocori’s Tyler Hoffman earned a pin at heavyweight in the very next match.

“Shawn understood and being the team wrestler he is, he knew what he had to do,” Ellison said. “Rocori has a very talented heavyweight and most heavyweight matches end with pins, so it was up to Shawn to enter the mat knowing that regardless of any outcome he could not give up a pin. Shawn was able to carry out the task. He lost the match but by understanding his role, he actually won. He won by wrestling smart.”

Alexandria got to that point by using four straight wins in the middle weights. Trent Piepenburg started it with a pin in 1:55 at 132 pounds. Blake Olhausen, Jacob Schiltgen and Dustin Neu then followed suit with important decision wins that gave their team a 24-9 lead.

“I mentioned swing matches earlier and these three definitely swung the momentum in our favor,” Ellison said.

Ben Bogart and Dylan Kriese also added wins for Alexandria early in the match to help the Cardinals improve to 5-0 in the CLC.

MEET RESULTS Alexandria 30,

Rocori 27

106 – Bogart (A) def. Cole Steil, 4-3

113 – Adam Kunz (R) pinned Ben Johnson, 3:32

120 – Kriese (A) won by forfeit

126 – Gunnar Feildhege (R) def. Tryg Burgau, 8-2

132 – Piepenburg (A) pinned Logan Peterka, 1:55

138 – Olhausen (A) def. Cody Buerman, 3-1

145 – Schiltgen (A) def. Justin Rose, 8-6

152 – Neu (A) def. Nick Warne, 8-3

160 – Ben Hoffman (R) def. Jake Nienaber, 6-4

170 – Dalton Calfas (R) def. Quintin Kluver-Longfellow, 9-3

182 – Seth Kelin (R) def. Mike Schluter, 8-5

195 – Cumberbatch (A) won by forfeit

220 – Vigil (R) def. Nelson, 7-5

285 – Hoffman (R) pinned Dan Oberg, 4:22

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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