Tigers tip Cloquet-Esko 44-29In their seventh year as a varsity program, a growing Lumberjacks wrestling team ignited its home-opener Tuesday by winning four of the first five matches before a sizeable crowd.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – In their seventh year as a varsity program, a growing Lumberjacks wrestling team ignited its home-opener Tuesday by winning four of the first five matches before a sizeable crowd.
As the more-experienced Tigers controlled mid-dual action, the evening closed with an entertaining heavyweight division for spectators, but by that point the Lumberjacks were out of contention. The junior varsity also won several matches beforehand, much to the audience’s delight.
Plentiful praise was given to Coach Al Denman and his athletes following the Lumberjacks’ 44-29 defeat to Great River Conference rival Rush City-Braham Tuesday at Cloquet High School, because this winter, Cloquet-Esko has perhaps its most exciting team ever.
“It’s finally fun to have a team so entertaining and a crowd so boisterous,” said Denman. “You should have seen during the heavyweights, people were going nuts.”
Cloquet-Esko’s David Schober opened the evening with a three-period win, followed by victories from Seth Stevens, Mitchell Borchardt, Conner Denman, Reid Borchardt and Casey Kulas, according to Al Denman.
Denman explained Rush City-Braham – a wrestling program similar in size to Cloquet-Esko – controlled the middle of the dual with their experience in the upper weight divisions, plus the Lumberjacks forfeited the 160- and 195-pound weight classes.
“That’s 12 points right there,” said Denman of the forfeitures.
Just before Reid Borchardt was about to wrestle at 145 pounds, Tigers Coach Josh Moulton adjusted his lineup to sidestep the six-win, unbeaten Esko junior.
“I’d like to think it was because they were scared of me,” said Borchardt, who has been wrestling for 10 years, including four on the varsity. “I love wrestling so much; I was almost pulling out my hair. I still wanted to help, so I was just cheering my heart out.”
That enthusiasm engulfed the small gymnasium, with both coaches and teams leaving with positive gains for their smaller, yet ever-growing programs. Cloquet-Esko falls to 2-1 on the season, with two team victories over Virginia and Ogilvie.
“I like coming up here to wrestle Cloquet,” Moulton said. “I think a couple of years ago we split wins, as we came up here and won and they went down there and won. It’s always a nice dual.”
“You can have all of the strength in the world, but you have to understand how to wrestle,” Denman added. “Now is the time to learn. It was fun tonight.”