The Cloquet-Esko wrestling program concluded its winter season this past weekend, competing in the Section 7AA individual meet on Friday and Saturday at Hibbing High School.
The Lumberjacks - a varsity program since 2006 - were paced by Esko's Mitchell Borchardt, who placed third overall at 122 pounds. Older brother Reid Borchardt was the meet's top seed at 145 pounds, yet was beaten twice, finishing fourth.
Seth Stevens at 108 pounds, Alex Land at 115, and Conner Denman at 128 all finished in the top-five for a young, but improving program, according to Coach Al Denman.
"We're closing those gaps, and once we close them all, we're going to be tough - that's a testament to our kids," Denman said. "But watching them all progress, gain skill, and work towards their potential, that's what's most rewarding."
Denman said his team had a program-best seven wins this year, noting his wrestlers are already preparing for next season.
"I'm pretty fired up for next year, and I know all of the other guys are, too," said Al's son, Cloquet eighth-grader Conner Denman. "People see Cloquet wrestling as one of the weaker teams, but we're improving ... and we've earned more respect."