By Brenda Erdahl Sports Editor
The ANML Lightning went into the 6AA section tournament as underdogs, Saturday, Feb. 17, at St. Cloud Apollo.
After edging No. 4 seed Becker 36-30, the Lightning (No. 5 seed) fell to No. 1 seed Foley 39-23 in the semifinals. Foley would go on to defeat Litchfield 29-26 to win the tournament and advance to state.
The Lightning went into that first match with the hope of avenging an earlier-season loss to the Bulldogs and making the final four for the fourth straight year.
“The lower weights did their job. We knew they had solid kids at the first three weights, so we worked hard last week on not giving up easy points,” Head Coach Ben Youngs said.
“Zach Pribyl and Zach Schmidt only gave up decisions to kids who had earned more points at the dual the first time. So, instead of being down 23-0 like last time after 126, we were only down 18-0. Even Zayne Brown, who barely qualified to wrestle at 120, went up against one of their better guys and took on that huge task for the team.”
The Irish traded wins in the next four weights with seniors Quinn Youngs and Hunter Manka picking up wins, and Jack Klug and Adam Neuman losing hardfought, close matches to bring the score to 24-8.
The Lightning then rattled off five straight wins, all with bonus, to take a 36-24 lead. “Daniel Luna had a huge win, one the coaches knew would likely decide the match. As a first-year wrestler, Luna has shown great athletic ability and aggressiveness, but the lack of experience of a first-year wrestler always makes it interesting. In the end, his persistence and strength won out,” Youngs said.
That along with the four seniors including Weege, who returned to the lineup after a two-week break from sickness, made the difference. Weege got a pin, Bergstrom kept on his roll and got a pin, Rasset got a forfeit and his 50th career win, and Helwing got another pin.
At 285 Patch battled a “very good wrestler and led for much of the match but ended up losing, still showing a lot of promise,” Youngs said.
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