Cloquet-Esko wrestlers tipped by Rush City-Braham 40-36Tuesday’s wrestling dual between Cloquet-Esko and Rush City-Braham was worth every penny of admission. Visiting Rush City edged Cloquet-Esko 40-36, as the pair of Great River Conference foes battled on the mats all night. Of the 14 events, the Tigers and Lumberjacks each won seven apiece.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – Tuesday’s wrestling dual between Cloquet-Esko and Rush City-Braham was worth every penny of admission.
Visiting Rush City edged Cloquet-Esko 40-36, as the pair of Great River Conference foes battled on the mats all night. Of the 14 events, the Tigers and Lumberjacks each won seven apiece.
And if it wasn’t for a pair of forfeited weight classes and a couple late-match pins, Cloquet-Esko would have secured their first win of the year.
“Boy, we almost pulled it off,” said Lumberjacks coach Al Denman. “We’re getting closer and closer every time.”
Following a season-opening 80-0 shutout at Aitkin, his Cloquet-Esko wrestlers have improved every competition. Last week they battled Virginia, losing by seven, and Tuesday they fell by just four.
“We’re clawing, scratching and just being very competitive right now,” said Denman. “A lot of these kids are brand new. And we were close tonight.”
Tuesday, Cloquet-Esko’s seven winners was a season-high. Denman said their continuing improvement is centered on his wrestlers’ hard work ethic.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked a team this hard,” he said. “I work the tar out of them. It’s really starting to pay off. We’ve really seen some fantastic gains.”
Victors Tuesday included Esko seventh-grader Mitchell Borchardt at 103 pounds, Cloquet seventh-grader Seth Stevens at 112, Cloquet junior Jolynne Denman at 119 and Cloquet senior Justin Koen at 171. Cloquet freshman Trevor Lowther won by forfeit at 189, top-wrestler Jake Baker won at 215 and Fond du Lac School senior rookie wrestler Tahkoa Smith scored a late pin in the heavyweight division.
Baker’s pin was the night’s highlight, just like the week before. This week, competing in a 44-pound heavier weight division, the 171-pound senior needed just 13 seconds to pin his 215-pound opponent.
“That was pretty impressive,” said Denman. “It was awesome.”
Although Cloquet-Esko remains winless, you wouldn’t be able to tell by talking to Denman after Tuesday’s match. He spoke highly of his hard-nosed crew.
“These kids are working so hard,” he said. “And to be wrestling so well, so early in the year, it’s just awesome.”
Yet, their success isn’t deceiving Denman. He’s remaining realistic, too.
“We’ve got some tough teams coming up,” explained Denman. “Teams like Grand Rapids and Milaca have great, strong programs. Our inexperience will show again. But right now, these kids are wrestling very competitively.”
Cloquet-Esko next gets into action after the holiday season, when they travel to conference foe Ogilvie for a dual to start at 6 p.m. Dec. 30.