Knights keep streak going against Bluejackets

St. Michael-Alb. wins key M-8 Wrestling match (full story); Jackets go 4-0 at C-i duals, including defeating 5th-ranked Forest Lake

Greg Hunt

St. Michael-Albertville positioned itself for a third straight Mississippi 8 wrestling championship by answering Cambridge-Isanti’s rally with a 32-25 victory at CIHS Jan. 21.

Each team won seven matches, but the difference in the match was bonus points which the 2nd-ranked Knights got in spades both in the lower and upper weights. Top-ranked Tommy Thorn got it going with a quick pin at 103, then 2nd-ranked Cole Sladek delivered a tech fall at 112 for an 11-0 SMA lead. 7th-ranked Ty Tischer put C-I on the board with four clean single-leg takedowns in an 8-5 decision at 119, but 6th-ranked Lincoln Mallinger answered right back with a 7-2 decision at 125. 7th-ranked Wayne Voss pushed the Knights’ lead out to 17-3 with a late throw in a 7-1 decision at 130.

The Jackets’ rally started at 135 when 4th-ranked Travis Holt got in a late takedown for an 11-3 major. 4th-ranked Cody Skog followed with five-takedown/one-reverse effort for a 12-6 decision at 140. 9th-ranked Adam Kelling then pulled C-I to within 17-13 with a 2-1 decision at 145, riding out SMA’s Martin for nearly 2/3s of the match.

The Knights’ 4th-ranked Jake Lillie stopped that streak with a 7-1 decision at 152 as C-I’s Cody Glines twice fought out of precarious positions. Then C-I’s 7th-ranked Mark Volker turned SMA’s Briggs once in a 9-2 decision at 160 as the Jackets got back to a four-point deficit.

“They really control the hands when they are on the bottom. They don’t let us get anything going,” said senior co-captain Volker. “I knew I was going to have a tough match against my guy and got a decision for us. But it’s always a blast these matches with St. Michael. With the lights out and everybody cheering, it’s hard not to get pumped up.”

The C-I crowd exploded after 3rd-ranked Clayton Jennissen used the headlock to stick SMA’s Kolle at 1:43, giving the Jackets their first lead at 22-20 (above). Derek Swanson, ranked 4th at 189, worked for an 11-7 decision in a wild battle with SMA’s Stott. (below)

With C-I leading 25-20, St. Michael got a quick pin from 3rd-ranked Nick Edling at 215 to retake the lead. 2nd-ranked Parker Betts then secured the victory with a third-period pin after leading 8-2 in the match.

“The Knights did such a good job of slowing everything down to their pace, and they are really strong and physical. They put such a good athlete out there at every single weight they’re just hard to score points on,” said C-I Coach Neil Jennissen. “So even when we were the better wrestler it was hard for us to earn bonus points. Look at Travis’ match at 135– he had to scrap with everything he had just to get an 8-point major.”bottom

Continued Coach Jennissen, “I will say Jon (Knowlton) is getting close at heavyweight. He has gotten better every week. At St. Cloud Tech (Jan. 15), he held off a tough Albert Lea kid but the ref stalled him out of the match. Tonight, he held off the second-best heavyweight in the state for two periods until Betts stepped on Jon’s foot and shoved him backwards. We just got to stay in a better stance against wrestlers like Betts.”

While it’s been tough having the Knights take the last three tight conference dual matches against his Jackets, Coach Jennissen appreciated the energetic crowd which came out on a freezing-cold evening to watch this premier battle. Youth wrestlers from the C-I system came out between the JV and varsity matches to put on a cute exhibition show.

“It’s been fun to see where wrestling has gone. In the early days when I first came here, you looked at the stands and you didn’t see anything like the crowd we had here tonight. People recognize that we are a top-notch program and St. Michael is, too. But I give all the credit to the kids because they’re the ones working so hard to make it happen. The young youth wrestlers see it, want to be like that, too, then we gradually indoctrinate them to let them know what it takes to be at that level.”

With the brutal January schedule soon behind them, the Bluejackets appreciate they survived to remain in the upper echelon of Class AAA wrestling.

“All our bodies are getting really tired, but we just got to push through it. We’ve got another month to go, so we got to keep going,” said Volker whose team may get another shot at SMA in the Section 7AAA tourney Feb. 18 at Blaine.

Jackets go 4-0 at C-I Duals
The Bluejackets returned to the CIHS gym on Saturday and went 4-0 at their Cambridge-Isanti Duals. Defeating St. Cloud Apollo 43-30, Mora 46-24 and North Branch 52-16, the Jackets closed with a key 42-22 win over Section 7AAA partner Forest Lake.

The victory over the 5th-ranked Rangers was highlighted by C-I running the tables between the 130-189 matches. Pins picked up in that stretch came from Holt (135), Skog (140) and Kelling (145).

Undefeated wrestlers for the Jackets on Saturday were Ty Torgerson (2 falls), Kelling (3 falls), Volker (3 falls) and Jennissen (2 falls).

M-8 Wrestling
St. Michael-Alb. 6-0, 12-4; Monticello 5-1, 15-2; Cambridge-Isanti 3-2, 14-3; Becker 5-1, 8-5; Zimmerman 2-4, 6-10; Rogers 1-4, 1-6; Big Lake 1-3, 1-5; Princeton 0-3, 5-5; Buffalo 0-6, 4-10.
 7AAA Leaders: St. Michael-Alb. 12-4; Cambridge-Isanti 14-3; Forest Lake 12-2; Coon Rapids 12-3; St. Francis 9-8.