Season ends for wrestlersCloquet-Esko closed its wrestling season in the Section 7AA Individual Tournament in Mora last Friday and Saturday and is sending no wrestlers to state.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Jolynne Denman, a 113-point wrestler for Cloquet-Esko, was eliminated from last weekend’s postseason brackets within the opening rounds, not winning a match. Yet it was the Cloquet senior’s unyielding competitiveness that perhaps summed up the Lumberjacks’ yearlong efforts best.
With the team schedule concluding a week earlier, Cloquet-Esko closed its wrestling season in the Section 7AA Individual Tournament in Mora last Friday and Saturday. The always-packed event featured 11 teams and more than150 wrestlers.
Although the six-year-old Lumberjack varsity program won’t be sending any wrestlers to this weekend’s state meet, Denman said the wrestlers remained positive throughout the grueling season.
“Yeah, we have lost a lot of matches this year, but we never lost our heart,” she said Tuesday. “We never gave up and continued to work hard every single day we came to practice. This year has been real successful for us.”
Indeed. Despite injuries, forfeits and struggles at times, Cloquet-Esko earned the program’s first-ever postseason team victory when the ’Jacks topped Virginia Area on Feb. 14 in Cloquet. Coach Al Denman, Jolynne’s father, said the historic win was a pivotal one.
“This team can win,” Al Denman said. “But we appreciate the little things, too. Often times it’s the little improvements that are just as important as the big achievements. These kids might not have great win percentages, but they’ve progressed and gotten better.”
Esko brothers Mitchell and Reid Borchardt were the top individuals for the Lumberjacks at sections, as Mitchell (106 pounds), an eighth-grader, placed fourth and Reid (138), a sophomore, finished fifth overall. According to Denman, the field of competition was deep.
“At this point of the year, everyone is at their peak and at their final weight,” Coach Denman said. “One little mistake can cost you. Even the top the wrestlers can get upset.”
Denman said his son, Conner (120), along with Jordan Baker (126), Jake Stevens (132), Kristina Erickson (145), Cohen Nelson (152) and Treavor Lowther (220), also participated at sections.
Meanwhile, graduating in the spring, Jolynne Denman has sure enjoyed her time in purple.
“I don’t know if I am going to wrestle next year in college, but I hope these guys can continue to carry things on here,” said Jolynne. “Sure, sections were hard on us, but we can all look back and say ‘Hey, we gave it our best and did well.’”