Tigers experience highs and lows in quarterfinals

Published 2:40 am Friday, March 6, 2009

Albert Lea wrestler Dalton Westerlund is sporting a bizarre haircut these days with bangs, long sideburns and circle shaved around his skull.

While the haircut makes Westerlund look wild, he’s been anything but wild on the mat. In fact it’s a conservative approach that has served him well in his run through the state tournament field at 119 pounds.

“I’ve been wrestling a lot smarter. I’m not taking any dumb shots,” Westerlund said. “I’m taking safe stuff.”

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Westerlund capped off an impressive day at state as he delivered a 4-3 double overtime loss to the No. 3-ranked wrestler at 119 pounds Ali Mohammed, of Burnsville.

Each wrestler had just an escape point entering overtime, but Westerlund scored an escape and reversal in the first 30 second overtime to take a 4-1 lead. Mohammed earned a caution point and an escape put that would be it.

“I was very nervous,” Westerlund said. “It was really big.”

It was the second ranked wrestler Westerlund knocked off on the day. Hours earlier he came through with an important 3-0 win against Centennial’s Jesse Hylton.

“He’s having a heck of a state tournament,” said Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature. “For a ninth-grader he’s having a great state tournament.”

As for the unusual do, Westerlund was bribed to keep it after the team all shaved their heads before the state tournament. Teammates Ethan Reed and Kyle Kriewall gave him $5 each and Adam Kermes threw in a Maui Wowi.

Whatever does the trick.

The rest of the quarterfinals for Albert Lea were a series of highs, lows, and near misses.

Cory Hansen was among the highs for the Tigers. Hansen advanced to the semifinals with a 12-3 major decision against Chaska’s R.J. Hallman at 112 pounds. Hansen will make his second consecutive trip to the semis and awaits a match with second-ranked Sam Stewart from Andover.

“It feels pretty good,” Hansen said. “I’m going to be placing so hopefully I can go out and win my semis and make it to finals.”

Hansen was able to take control early in his match and was able to score in bunches against Hallman, the ninth-ranked wrestler in Class 3A.

Cody Hansen, Trey Hable, and Ethan Reed experienced the lows of the quarterfinals as each came up short in ultracompetitive matches.

“The emotions run high, it’s the nature of the sport,” Goodnature said. “In wrestling it’s up and down, up and down. It’s tough, it’s tough on these kids. We lost some heartbreakers today.”

Hansen, ranked No. 3 at 125, found himself in a rematch with No. 2-ranked Trent Herold, of St. Francis, in the quarterfinals. In the first meeting Herold won 3-2 against Hansen with a last-second reversal.

In the second meeting Herold once again was the victor, this time by a 3-1 score.

Herold grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second period and added a takedown with 30 seconds left in the period for a 3-0 lead.

Hansen was able to score an escape in the third period but was unable to score any more against Herold to find himself in the wrestleback bracket.

Things didn’t get any easier for Hansen in the wrestlebacks. He went to overtime to earn a 3-1 victory over Mounds View’s Brandon Bigelbach to move on to Friday. Hansen will face Buffalo’s David Baker, who is ranked No. 6, in the next round.

Trey Hable’s quarterfinal match at 103 against Eden Prairie’s Sam Brancale was running smoothly with Hable leading comfortably at 11-6 in the third period, but with 41 seconds remaining Brancale caught Hable at the edge of the mat and put him on his back for a fall.

“I thought maybe he’d be able to wiggle his way off the mat,” Goodnature said. “Strange things happen up here at the state tournament. On a regular match during the year, that kid maybe wouldn’t have went all out in a situation like that. When it’s a do-or-die situation like the state tournament, they throw some things that they normally don’t and some crazy things happen.”

Hable held an 11-3 lead entering the third period, but in the blink of an eye found himself in the wrestlebacks.

Hable responded well after a devastating loss with a 7-4 decision against Tartan’s T.J. O’Hara. Hable will meet eighth-ranked Brady Johnshoy, of Prior Lake, in the next round of the wrestlebacks.

Reed was involved in a controversial match at 215 against Moorhead’s Mark Wychor.

The match went back and forth and the two wrestlers were tied 3-3 late in the third period when Wychor scored a takedown at the edge of the mat as time expired for a 5-3 decision.

“Ethan lost a tough one in the quarters,” Goodnature said. “I was arguing time ran out. There were some tough calls right there at the end.”

Reed was able to advance in his wrestleback match against Bronson Kittleson, of Robbinsdale-Armstong, with a 16-6 major decision. Reed will meet Lakeville South’s Zane Peterson in the next round. Peterson is ranked fifth at 215.

Four Albert Lea wrestlers were back in the wrestlebacks after losses on the first day and fourth-ranked Logan Kortan was able to find a 3-0 victory over third-ranked Colton Gleason, of Minnetonka, to move onto to the next stage. Gleason had just three losses on the season.

“He bounced back good,” Goodnature said. “I was really happy he went out there and looked crisp and he was confident.”

Kortan gets Bemidji’s Corey Huber, who is ranked seventh, in his next match.

Three other Tiger wrestlers weren’t able to get through to the next round in wrestlebacks. Carter Kortan, Adam Kermes, and Matt Tiegs all dropped their return match Thursday.

Timmy Ruter, of Buffalo, was able to get a fall against Kortan at 2:13, and Kermes dropped a 4-1 decision against seventh-ranked Charlie Janssen, of Forest Lake, in his match.

Matt Tiegs suffered a difficult loss at 171. Tiegs held a slim two-point lead but a takedown by Mounds View’s Connor Finn led to a fall at 3:28 in the second period to end Tiegs’ first appearance at state.

Goodnature was ready to put the downfalls in the past and focus on the team’s next test Friday, a semifinal match with Cambridge-Isanti.

“We have the big one tomorrow at 12 o’clock,” he said. “We gotta focus on that and focus on our team now.”