Cloquet learns through school of hard knocks
Midway through their first varsity wrestling season the Cloquet Lumberjacks have hit an injury bug that has slowed the team down. "What can I say? For a very young team we are doing remarkably well," said Cloquet coach Al Denman. "We are, with a ...
Midway through their first varsity wrestling season the Cloquet Lumberjacks have hit an injury bug that has slowed the team down.
"What can I say? For a very young team we are doing remarkably well," said Cloquet coach Al Denman. "We are, with a few exceptions, a junior varsity level team competing against varsities with long traditions and full rosters."
Unfortunately the Jacks have faced a spate of injuries against some of their top wrestlers which has not helped the situation. One of the key injuries has been to sophomore co-captain Simon Thill.
"During the second period against Hibbing, Simon broke a bone in his left hand," commented Denman. "Simon lost by a two-point margin without the full use of his hand during all of the third period. It wasn't until after the match was finished that he realized something was quite wrong."
Mike Land, another co-captain, who came to Cloquet along with his brother from Monticello, has been a key wrestler for the Jacks thus far.
"Mike leads the team in many areas of stats," recalled Denman. "Mike is a two-time state entrant from his days in Monticello and he has done a great job of adjusting to a different team and community and most admirably accepting his role as a member and leader of a team far less competitive than he is accustomed to."
Land has also been working through a neck injury through most of the season, but has been able to hit the mat for all of his matches thus far.
Jordan Land, Mike's brother, has had a tremendous season and despite wrestling at the 105 pound class which is 10 pounds more than he normally weighs, he is ranked in the top two in the section.
"I see Jordan placing in the top two in the individual Section 8 Tournament," stated Denman. "He is a tremendous competitor with a high strength to weight ratio and very good throwing skills."
Eighth-grader Jake Baker has also been strong this season, taking third in the Superior Wrestling Classic.
Ninth-grader Jordan Villa has also battled injuries all season and it has cost him wrestling time.
"Jordan suffered a preseason knee injury and has been battling a recurring shoulder injury," mentioned Denman. "The injuries have cost him mat time and competitions."
Sophomore Sonny Hain has also shown a great deal of promise and has had solid performances this season.
"Overall I am very pleased with the progress of the squad," Denman mentioned. "The real issue I see at the moment is recruiting more athletes who are not participating in a winter sport to come out for wrestling. I was frustrated with our inability to draft athletes who could have filled our upper weights."
When the Jacks wrestle in a match and don't have a wrestler at a weight class, they automatically give the other team six points. Typically Cloquet has forfeited four weight classes each match this season.
"We are getting better day by day," commented Denman. "Practice by practice we are closing the gap on the other schools. It is just that the gap is larger right now. The guys are doing a great job of laying down the foundation for a great tradition of wrestling in Cloquet and I could not be more proud."
Pine Journal sports reporter Kerry Rodd can be contacted at: email@example.com .