Lumberjacks wrestle opponents — and themselvesAlthough wrestling teammates at practice is necessary for all grapplers, recently the Lumberjacks have been battling each other for varsity spots corresponding to their weight class.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Although wrestling teammates at practice is necessary for all grapplers, recently the Lumberjacks have been battling each other for varsity spots corresponding to their weight class.
Cloquet-Esko Coach Al Denman explained that this season new rule changes eliminated the 140-pound weight class, while a much-heavier 220-plus was added to the sport nationwide. Yet, for small, upstart wrestling programs like Cloquet-Esko, Denman said that’s been difficult.
“We don’t have enough big kids,” Denman said of their adjustments. “Numbers aren’t the problem, we have enough kids. We just don’t have them in the right sizes.”
That has been challenging for the Lumberjacks this winter. According to Denman, his squad normally needs to forfeit four or five of the 14 total weight classes because of weight deficiencies. Mix that with a host of injuries throughout this season, and Cloquet-Esko has seen their struggles on the mats.
Last Thursday, the Lumberjacks (1-11) dropped a pair of triangular matches against Greenway-Nashwauk-Keewatin and Rush City-Braham in Cloquet.
Their lone team win this season came against Virginia Area on the road, Dec. 13.
Looking at their injured list, Denman noted that Kristina Erickson recently returned from a concussion, while Reid Borchardt is back from a fractured wrist. Meanwhile, Andy Desmond continues to fight a nagging leg injury, while Denman said Tony Wilton is likely out for the rest of the season with a troublesome shoulder.
“We’re throwing everything we have at [our opponents], except the chairs,” Denman said. “In wrestling, you have to be a certain size and really, that’s killed us this year. We’re battling and hanging in there, but our lives have been made difficult.”
Cloquet-Esko will next travel to Virginia for a triangular with the Blue Devils and Grand Rapids Thursday, with wrestling to begin at 5 p.m. The Lumberjacks will then head to the Grand Rapids Individual Tournament Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.