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Wrestling ends historic season

The first Cloquet High School wrestling season officially came to a close last week with Mike Land placing sixth in the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament. Wrestling returned as a varsity sport after a more than 40-year hiatus in th...

The first Cloquet High School wrestling season officially came to a close last week with Mike Land placing sixth in the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament. Wrestling returned as a varsity sport after a more than 40-year hiatus in the school district.

"It was a fun year and a learning year, all in one," said Al Denman, Cloquet coach, last week. "I am proud of all the people who made it happen."

Land became the first wrestler in school history to advance to the state meet and in so doing he adds to his list of accomplishments by being named All-State.

"Mike place sixth and it might not sound like much to the wrestling neophyte, but it is quite an accomplishment," explained Denman on Tuesday. "Mike had to wrestle six matches over a three-day period to place. He is the sixth best 130-pound Class AA wrestler in the entire state!"

Joe Selly of Montgomery-Lonsdale won the event, Cody Nelson of Ottertail Central was second, Brandon McVey of Mound West Tonka was third, Robert Koranda of Becker was fourth and Ross Neubauer of Buffalo, Lake Hector, and B-O-L-D was fifth.

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"Mike is the first wrestler in Cloquet history to place in the top two in sections, and to receive All-Conference and All-State honors," mentioned Denman. "Mike is also the first wrestler in school history to place in the state tournament."

As impressive as Land's year has been, he has not been alone in his quest to help build the fledgling program.

"Mike's accomplishments as well as the performance of other members of the wrestling squad have turned heads in Minnesota's large wrestling community toward our infant program in Cloquet," stated Denman. "We are continually congratulated for producing a good core of wrestling athletes so fast! Mike and the others are building a strong foundation of performance and credibility that will attract more young athletes our way."

Next season the Jacks will return most of their original roster of wrestlers and expectations are high.

"I expect at least three wrestlers to make it the state championships next year," explained Denman. "For the team aspect we will need to recruit new team members in the 189, 215 and heavy weight classes. We had to forfeit those weight classes this past season because we lost some to quitting and graduation."

For each forfeited weight class Cloquet must give the other team six points, so essentially they spot the opposition 18 to 24 points each match.

"Some of our losses were by less than 24 points," stated Denman.

"The future looks bright for wrestling in Cloquet," he continued. "For the past 12 years we have had a strong and prosperous youth club with about 80 kids kindergarten through eighth grade, and these kids will continue to feed a growing middle school and high school program."

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Pine Journal sports reporter Kerry Rodd can be contacted at: kdrodd@aol.com .

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