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'Jacks individuals scale up for Section 7AA

CLOQUET — Prior to Cloquet-Esko wrestling practice Tuesday, Coach Al Denman stood next to the scale in his office.

The electronic weight measurer is of utmost importance this week, as the Lumberjacks scale up to their competition at Friday and Saturday’s Section 7AA individual meet in North Branch.

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In no coincidence, Cloquet-Esko — in its eighth-year of existence — is sending eight wrestlers this weekend, with the top two from each weight class to advance to next week’s state meet hosted at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Denman, who has coached the Lumberjacks since helping form the varsity program in 2006, said Esko senior Reid Borchardt — ranked No. 7 in state — is a favorite at 138 pounds.

Cloquet brothers Daniel and Seth Stevens, at 106 and 113 pounds, and Denman’s son, 132-pound Conner, all have outside shots to qualify, while teammates River Demars, Casey Kulas, Evan Pokornowski and David Schober will also be participating.

Seedings were set Wednesday evening as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. If any individuals qualify for state, they would join CEC alumni Simon Thill and brothers Mike and Jordan Land in accomplishing the honor.

“I’m looking at five,” said an optimistic Coach Denman, hoping for two more state entrants. “I’m crossing my fingers.”