Lightning wrestlers edged by Becker 34-32

After looking at the standings, the Annandale-Maple Lake wrestling team knew last Thursday’s matchup against Becker was going to be a close one.   And with only a handful of dual meets left in the regular season, a Wright County Conference meet like the one Jan. 29 was important.

In an exciting meet, the Lightning fell 34-32 to the Bulldogs.

Meet action started with 103 lb. Zach Stumpf of A-ML in a very tight match against the Bulldogs’ Joe Lumley. Points went back and forth all three periods, ending in a 13-11 win for Lumley.

A-ML’s Jake Anderson took on Emery Forsythe at 112 lbs. Anderson held control of the first two periods but lost 2-6 at the end of the third.

Tyler Wadman, wrestling at 119 lbs., lost by a fall to Nick Houle of Becker.  Ben Anderson of A-ML, who is ranked 8th in Class AA at 125 lbs., had a quick, clean match, pinning James Adelman early in the first period.

Phil Roemer provided another close match at 130 lbs. when Russ Lumley of Becker edged him with a 5-2 decision.

At this point, the team score was A-ML 6 and Becker 15.

Up next was A-ML’s Aaron Hempel wrestling at 135 lbs. He came through with a pin in the second period over Riley Holub, making the team scores 12-15.

Matt Schultz, 140 lbs., held his own against John Koranda, who is ranked fifth in Class AA. Koranda, known for his quick moves, won with a major decision, 19-7.

Lightning captain Stephen Pilgram showed why he was ranked sixth in Class AA by dominating his match and winning a major decision (11-3) over Brandon Backes in the 145 lb. weight class.

Nate Roemer was another dominating force for the Lightning. He pinned Mike Rittenour of Becker in the 152 lb. weight class, bringing the team scores to 22-19, with A-ML in the lead.

At 160 lbs., Nick Demarais took on Cameron Rogers of Becker. Demarais, a wrestler with strength and endurance, came through with a major decision to win 10-2.

Brad Salveson of A-ML kept the momentum going by pinning Brady Holub at 171 lbs., bringing the team scores to A-ML 32 and Becker 19 with three matches left to go.

Ben Hylla of A-ML wrestled for Scott Christen in the 189 lb. category. Though Hylla lost to Jeremy Nelson by a fall, he racked up some valuable varsity experience.

Adam Michalski of A-ML went head-to-head with undefeated Class AA state champion Jeremy Pederson in the 215 lb. weight class. Pederson won by a fall.

With the score 32-31, Dusty Nicka of A-ML took on Mike Hopkins, who is ranked fifth in Class AA in the 275 lb. category. This was Dusty’s first match after a head injury during the Paynesville meet.

After a few technical difficulties and a few questionable calls, Hopkins won in a 3-2 decision, making the final score Becker 34, A-ML 32.

The Lightning are now 3-3 in the Wright County Conference and 11-6 overall.

Earlier in the evening the JV also had a close match, losing to the Bulldogs by a point, 36-35.   The Lightning were to wrestle again on Tuesday, Feb. 3., at home against Mound-Westonka.

Their final home meet before sections will be against Kimball at 6 p.m. in the Annandale Middle School on Tuesday, Feb. 10, which will also be senior recognition night.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, the Lightning will take on the Wildcats at Waconia at 6 p.m.

Prior to Thursday night’s match against Becker, an ExCel award presentation was held in honor of Becker wrestler Brandon Backes.   The Minnesota State High School League-sponsored award is given to high school juniors who represent excellence in community, education and leadership.

Following the ExCel award ceremony, Lightning coach Bruce Bartels and captain Stephen Pilgram presented a $500 check to Jadain Foley of the Becker wrestling team.  Foley, a 2003 Section 6AA champion at 152 lbs. and fifth place state wrestler, was severely injured last July in a construction accident and is working on regaining the use of his legs.   The donation came from the Maple Lake Lightning Wrestling Youth Group, the Annandale Thunder Wrestling Youth Group and the A-ML Lightning Wrestling Organization.