Tigers begin title defense

Published 10:30 pm Monday, November 28, 2011

Dalton Westerlund, right, and the Albert Lea wrestling team enter the season ranked No. 9 in Class AAA. The Tigers are joined in Section 1AAA this season by third-ranked Hastings and sixth-ranked Owatonna. -- Andrew Dyrdal/Albert Lea Tribune

The Albert Lea wrestling team will have its hands full this season in the newly aligned, top-heavy Section 1AAA.

The Tigers, who beat Owatonna to Big Nine Conference and section titles last season, now face a three-headed horse with the addition of Hastings into Section 1AAA.

Hastings is ranked third in Class AAA in the Guillotine.com’s first ratings released Nov. 18, with Owatonna sixth and Albert Lea ninth.

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The Tigers have five wrestlers ranked individually in the class led by its No. 4-ranked senior, Dalton Westerlund, at 170 pounds.

Junior Trevor Westerlund is ranked eighth at 113 pounds, junior Dakota Wangsness is fifth at 120 pounds, junior Lucas Hansen is seventh at 132 pounds and senior Trey Hable is fifth at 160 pounds.

Hastings also has five wrestlers ranked in the top 10 and Owatonna has six. The section’s highest-ranked wrestler is Hastings’ 220-pounder Isaac Eichmann, the defending state runner-up who is ranked No. 2.

The Tigers open its season on Saturday at a tournament in Hastings. The team will wrestle in its first conference dual on Dec. 8 with a doubleheader against Winona and Austin at home before wrestling its most important regular-season match of the year, at Owatonna on Dec. 13.