Hinckley-Finlayson tops Cloquet-Esko 55-17Wearing her purple warm-up jacket, pants and headgear, Cloquet’s Kristina Erickson paced back-and-forth across the gymnasium preparing for her wrestling match Tuesday night.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – Wearing her purple warm-up jacket, pants and headgear, Cloquet’s Kristina Erickson paced back-and-forth across the gymnasium preparing for her wrestling match Tuesday night.
Two minutes later, she walked off the mat. She had earned the pin.
Erickson’s first-period pin of Casey Scott was the highlight of an evening where Hinckley-Finlayson defeated Cloquet-Esko 55-17 in the Lumberjacks’ home finale at Cloquet High School. Junior Jolynne Denman received a forfeit at 112 pounds and senior Jake Baker won by a tech fall in the third period for Cloquet’s 17 points.
But Erickson’s convincing victory over Scott wasn’t just six points for the Lumberjacks; it was a quick glimpse of state history.
“I was told it was only the second time in state varsity wrestling history that two girls have ever faced each other,” said Cloquet-Esko coach Al Denman. “That’s kind of
cool. Kristina weighed about five pounds less and domin-
Erickson, a sophomore, began her wrestling career in fourth grade. Over time, she’s faced countless boys. Explaining that it’s hard to face the opposite sex in wrestling, Erickson enjoyed Tuesday night’s change of pace.
“It was nice,” said the 135-pounder, who wrestled up at 145 Tuesday to earn her second win this winter. “Boys are usually stronger than you. But wrestling a girl, things are a different style. The technique is a lot different.”
Erickson and Denman are the only girls on the varsity for the Lumberjacks.
“Holy cow, do those two girls have some courage,” said Al Denman. “Wrestling is basically like a street fight with rules. Not many girls are up for it, but these two are so tough. I’m very proud of them.”
Over their varsity season this winter, Erickson has defeated one boy, while Denman has beaten three, including her most recent last weekend at Grand Rapids with a late-match pin. In other words, this pair of girls isn’t scared of boys.
“Boys are bigger, faster and stronger,” said Jolynne. “It pushes my limits.”
“It’s hard,” added Erickson of challenging boys nightly. “I was intimidated at first, but I’ve been doing it so long, I just look at everyone as the same now.”
Al Denman cherishes the fact that he has two varsity female wrestlers. He’s a huge advocate of developing female wrestlers. This season, including forfeited matches, his female duo has combined for roughly a dozen wins, with Jolynne racking up around 10.
“I’m pretty confident that we have the most varsity female wrestlers in the entire state,” said Denman. “And the fact that they’re working so hard and doing so well against boys is amazing. I think it’s very important.”
Denman’s daughter doesn’t care who she faces really. She just loves the sport.
“Wrestling keeps me wanting to come back for more,” said Jolynne. “I’m not afraid of boys at all, because I always know that I’m going to give it my best shot and never back down.”
One-win Cloquet-Esko will remain on the road for the rest of the year, traveling to Chisago Lakes for a triangular meet on Thursday and to Ashland on Friday.