3/9/2018 1:48:00 PM CL & NB grapplers fight hard at state tournament
Neither of the eleventh-grade Wildcat wrestlers who made their first appearance at last weekend’s state wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center – Josh Wenthe (160) and Zach Carlson (285) – got on to the podium by placing in the top six. But both of them wrestled well against tough opponents and are poised to use that experience to make another run at getting on the podium next year.
Wenthe opened the tournament against senior Josh Bernier of Thief River Falls, in what turned out to be a high scoring match. Bernier took down Wenthe at 0:22 and let Wenthe up to lead 2-1. Another takedown by Bernier made the score 4-1. Bernier was able to flip Wenthe onto his back. Wenthe worked to avoid the pin, but Bernier was awarded a three-point near fall late in the period and led 7-1 after one. Bernier chose to start on top in the second and period briefly flipped Wenthe on his back at about 2:20 for a two-point near fall to make the lead 9-1. An escape by Wenthe, another takedown by Bernier and another escape by Wenthe made the score 11-3 at the end of the second period. Wenthe chose to start up in the third period, as his only chance to win would be by a pin. But Bernier got a takedown nearly right away and let Wenthe up at 4:22. It looked like Bernier was working toward a tech fall. The pattern continued, as Bernier got three more takedowns and let Wenthe up twice. Bernier didn’t get the technical fall, but ended up with a 19-6 win by major decision.
Bernier won his next match, giving Wenthe the opportunity to participate in wrestlebacks. His opponent was junior Jake Hageman of Simley. After a scoreless one-minute first period, Wenthe deferred in the second and Hageman chose bottom. At 1:15, Hageman tried to stand and break free, but Wenthe slammed him back down. Wenthe committed a violation on the move and Hageman was awarded a penalty point. Hageman escaped at 1:50 for a 2-0 lead. At 2:00, Hageman executed a double-leg takedown of Wenthe to go up 4-0. Wenthe stepped over and got a reversal at 2:30 to cut Hageman’s lead to 4-2. In the third period, Wenthe chose bottom. Hageman gave him the escape point, cutting Hageman’s lead to 4-3, and the wrestlers started up. A few seconds into the period, Hageman got Wenthe into a front headlock and on the ground. Hageman scooted around to try to get on top of Wenthe for the takedown, but Wenthe held him off until a stalemate was called. At about 3:55, Wenthe dove to try for a takedown, but Hageman ended up putting Wenthe in a sort of headstand and the referee awarded him two points for a takedown to make the score 6-3. Wenthe aggressively tried to escape, but Hageman got two more back points before pinning Wenthe with seven seconds left in the match, ending Wenthe’s season. Wildcat head coach Shawn Frederixon said “Josh was undersized for the 160 pound class, but used 160 to get to the state tournament. He got two matches and went out there and never quit wrestling to the very end up against some tough opponents. He will use the experience to drive him for next year.”
Carlson took on senior Mitch Trigg of Foley, the number two overall seed at 285, in his opening match. Carlson and Trigg were scoreless through the first minute of the match, but Trigg got a takedown and a three point near-fall in the next 20 seconds to take a 5-0 lead. A few seconds later, Carlson spun out of Trigg’s grasp for a reversal. It didn’t last long, as Trigg engineered a reversal of his own soon after and led 7-2 with about 30 seconds left in the first period. As Trigg work to pin him, Carlson nearly escaped late in the period. But the score remained 7-2 after one period. Carlson started on top in the second period. He was able to thwart an early escape attempt by Trigg, but Trigg eventually got a reversal and pinned Carlson with 53 seconds left in the second period.
Trigg won his next match, so Carlson moved into wrestlebacks. Carlson’s opponent was senior Sam Henriksen of Dawson-Boyd-Lac Quie Parle. After a scoreless first period, Henriksen chose down. Carlson rolled him onto his back at 1:20. Henriksen rolled back to his stomach, but not before Carlson was awarded two points for a near fall. Henriksen injured his knee at 1:45, but was able to continue. Carlson rode him hard. Carlson got a clasping call at 2:05, giving Henriksen a point to cut Carlson’s lead to 2-1. At 2:40, Carlson stopped an attempted escape and rode Henriksen the rest of the period to protect his 2-1 lead. Carlson chose down in the third period. Henriksen gave up the escape point before the period started, increasing Carlson’s lead to 3-1, and the wrestlers started up. Carlson was the aggressor most of the period, but was given a stall warning at 4:30. Henriksen made a desperate move at 4:45 to try to get a takedown and tie up the match, but Carlson turned it into a takedown of his own at 4:50, stretching his lead to 5-1. Carlson rode Henriksen for the last ten seconds to pick up the win.
In his next match, Carlson faced Manny Alvarez of Columbia Heights. Alvarez got a takedown at 0:20, but Carlson escaped at 0:40 and Alvarez led 2-1 after the first period. Álvarez chose down in the second period. Carlson worked him hard, but couldn’t quite turn the huge Alvarez. Alvarez got a reversal at 1:30, flipped Carlson on his back and pinned Carlson at 1:50 to end the match and to end Carlson’s season. Frederixon said "Zach was able to see that he can wrestle well against the top heavyweights when he put his mind to it, even though he is a bit undersized. I hope the win that he got fuels him to do even better next season.”