Albert Lea wrestling team reaches title match

Published 3:25 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

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ST. PAUL — Albert Lea is back in the state championship dual for the second straight year after a 30-21 victory over Cambridge-Isanti in the Class 3A semifinals Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

It’s the third time in the last four years the Tigers have reached the finals and they will face a familiar foe in No. 1-ranked Apple Valley, who defeated Bloomington 44-27, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. for the state title.

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“We’re going to enjoy the moment, we’re going to enjoy the night,” Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature said. “They are an unbelievable team. What we’re going to do is enjoy that we’re there.”

It will be a rematch of last year’s final when the Eagles defeated Albert Lea 57-6 and this season Apple Valley is ranked third in the nation. The Eagles have nine wrestlers in the semifinals of the individual tournament, but the Tigers will revel in the fact that they reached their team goal of getting back to the state championship.

“We’re just going to have to go out and wrestle to the best our ability and try to beat them,” senior Ethan Reed said.

Reed is a part of group of seniors that have enjoyed unparalleled success at Albert Lea. All four years of his high school career he has been part of a trip to state with the Tigers.

Albert Lea had never reached the state tournament four consecutive years until this season. Their previous best was a run from 1977 to 1979 when the Tigers appeared at state three consecutive years and out of five of the previous seven years.

“I had a team meeting last night in the hotel and I just told the kids, ‘There’s an opportunity that don’t come along. Some of these guys got beat out at the state individual-wise, you can still go home and say you were in the finals at the state tournament as a team and you can be very proud of that,’” Goodnature said.

Albert Lea had little trouble with the fourth-ranked Bluejackets in the semifinals. The Tigers won nine of the 14 weights which all came from 112 pounds to 160 to lift Albert Lea to victory.

Albert Lea defeated Cambridge-Isanti 42-15 earlier in the season at the Kiffmeyer Duals in St. Cloud. This time it was closer but the Tigers still came through.

There were eight matches that were decided by four or fewer points and the Tigers were able to win the majority of them.

“We won all the close ones,” Goodnature said. “There was no quit in them. They weren’t going to be denied and that was their last goal of the year as a team to make it to the finals of the state tournament.”

Cory Hansen, No. 3 at 112, got Albert Lea on the board with a 1-0 win against Joel Holmberg to start a winning streak for the Tigers.

Albert Lea won the next eight weights with Dalton Westerlund picking up a 4-0 decision and Adam Clark a 2-1 overtime decision to give the Tigers a cushion at 9-3.

Senior Cody Hansen scored the only bonus points for Albert Lea at 130 when he pinned Nate Schleif in 1 minute, 6 seconds to put the Tigers up 15-3.

Trevor Rasmussen followed with a 4-1 decision over ninth-ranked Adam Kelling at 135 and Carter Kortan got a 2-0 decision at 140.

Adam Kermes came up with a 7-2 decision against Clayton Jennissen at 145 while Connor and Logan Kortan followed with decisions that sealed the Albert Lea victory as the Tigers built a 30-3 lead.

“It’s quite a feat for little Albert Lea and southern Minnesota to get into the state tournament for three years against the big schools,” Goodnature said.

Albert Lea 30, Cambridge-Isanti 21

103 – Tyler Tischer dec. Trey Hable 3-2, 112 – Cory Hansen dec. Joel Holmberg 1-0, 119 – Dalton Westerlund dec. Ty Torgerson, 4-0, 125 –Adam Clark dec. Landon Chumley, 2-1 OT, 130 – Cody Hansen (AL) pinned Nate Schleif, 1:06, 135 – Trevor Rasmussen (AL) dec. Adam Kelling, 4-1, 140 – Carter Kortan dec. Brett Groves, 2-0, 145 – Adam Kermes (AL) dec. Clayton Jennissen, 7-2, 152 – Connor Kortan (AL) dec. Mark Volker, 8-4, 160 – Logan Kortan dec. Dalton Lilledahl, 8-2, 171 – Scott Gifford (C) dec. Matt Tiegs 4-1, 189 – Derek Swanson (C) dec. Jordan Holland, 7-4, 215 – Seth Woodiwiss (C) pinned JD Seiler, 1:22, 285 – Tony Nelson (C) pinned Alex Nielsen, :45.