Mason Hammer of Albert Lea pins Elijah Clark of Rochester Century Thursday in Albert Lea. Hammer won the 138-pound match in 1 minute and 46 seconds. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Mason Hammer of Albert Lea pins Elijah Clark of Rochester Century Thursday in Albert Lea. Hammer won the 138-pound match in 1 minute and 46 seconds. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Gallery: Tigers obliterate Panthers, warm up for Huskies

Published 8:46pm Thursday, January 23, 2014

The lineup was different on Thursday, but the result was the same.

The No. 8 Class AA Albert Lea wrestling team dismantled Rochester Century 68-9 for its fifth Big Nine Conference blowout of the season.

The Tigers’ closest conference meet of the year was a 49-22 drubbing of Rochester Mayo. So far this season, Albert Lea beat its Big Nine opponents by a combined score of 296-59.

Two changes to the normal lineup highlighted the night for the Tigers. They welcomed Devin Nelson, the No. 10-ranked wrestler at 138 pounds in Class AA, back to the lineup for the 145-pound match.

He made quick work of Rochester Century’s Alan Martinson with a pin in 1 minute and 38 seconds.

At 170 pounds, Kimball Blake filled in for Nick Kromminga and earned his first varsity win. Blake said winning felt good after he lost his first varsity match Saturday at Stillwater.

The Tigers won half of their matches by fall.

“We went out there and did our job,” said Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature. “We’re a pinning team. We really work on fall holds, going for the fall and being aggressive.”

Garrett Aldrich of Albert Lea began the meet with his 12th pin and 26 win of the season at 106 pounds. Aldrich’s win total is a team high.

Gavin Ignaszewski and Bryce Hoyt followed with wins, and after a victory by forfeit at 126 pounds, Albert Lea led 20-0.

Rochester Century got on the board with a decision at 132 pounds, but Albert Lea responded with seven consecutive wins: five falls and two forfeits. Those five pins were by Mason Hammer, Nelson, Santana Acosta, Blake and Tim Christianson.

Heavyweight Will Mendez capped the Tigers’ win with a fall in 1 minute and 19 seconds.

After the win, Albert Lea set its sights on the showdown at 7 p.m.

Saturday at home against Owatonna.

“This was a good warmup to get us ready for Owatonna,” Goodnature said about the Rochester Century meet. “Owatonna has a very nice team this year.”

Albert Lea and Owatonna are both ranked at the team level. Both teams also have four individuals ranked in The Guillotine’s polls.

Albert Lea is ranked No. 8 in Class AA and Owatonna is ranked No. 6 in Class AAA.

The meet will have conference implications. In the Big Nine standings, Albert Lea is 5-0 and Owatonna improved to 6-0 with a 65-6 win Thursday over Austin.

“Basically, it’s for the conference championship,” Goodnature said.

Nelson said Owatonna will be a tough opponent, but the Tigers have momentum going into the meet.

“We’re looking good and confident. We’re ready to go for Saturday,” he said. “We’ve got to come in there strong and not get psyched out.”

After the regular season is over, Albert Lea will not have the chance to face wrestlers from Owatonna like last season because the Tigers dropped to Class AA, while the Huskies remained in Class AAA.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Jan. 23 post.

Battle of the Big Nine’s best

 

What: Owatonna at Albert Lea wrestling

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

 

No. 8 Albert Lea, Class AA

106 — No. 7 Garrett Aldrich

120 — No. 5 Beau Johnsrud

138 — No. 10 Devin Nelson

182 — No. 1 Triston Westerlund

 

No. 6 Owatonna, Class AAA

113 — No. 2 Tanner Cole

132 — No. 6 Brandon Moen

160 — No. 7 Tyler Sorenson

285 — No. 1 Spencer Sorenson