Gallery: Owatonna wrestlers slip past Albert Lea
Published 10:04 pm Saturday, January 25, 2014
The top two teams in the Big Nine Conference squared off Saturday in Albert Lea to wrestle for the conference title.
No. 6 Class AAA Owatonna and No. 8 Class AA Albert Lea split 14 individual matches.
The Tigers won seven matches with two pins and five decisions, while the Huskies had two pins, three decisions and two major decisions.
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Owatonna edged Albert Lea 29-27. The gym was nearly filled for one of the best rivalries in Albert Lea sports, but not quite to the level of last year, when there wasn’t an open seat.
“It went down to bonus points, and that’s what a dual meet is all about,” said Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature. “They just had a few more than we did.”
Albert Lea began the meet with a pair of wins. Garrett Aldrich gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead after fighting back from a 4-3 deficit in the first period to win an 8-5 decision at 106 pounds.
“That was a great effort on Garrett’s part to gut that out and win,” Goodnature said.
At 113 pounds, a fall by Gavin Ignazewski had the Tigers’ bench in a frenzy when he took down Owatonna’s Brenden Buryska.
“Ignaszewski, an eighth-grader, goes out there and beats a senior,” Goodnature said. “That was awesome.”
Another big win for Albert Lea was at 160 pounds. Derek Samudio won an 11-6 decision over Owatonna’s Tyler Sorensen, the No. 7-ranked wrestler in Class AAA.
“I knew he liked to tie up a lot, so I just changed my offense to go around his,” Samudio said. “It worked out. It was nice pulling off an upset.”
The 195-pound match between Albert Lea’s Tim Christianson and Owatonna’s Hunter Jirele was vital to keep the team scores close. Albert Lea needed a win. It lost with a fall at 170 and a decision at 182. The Tigers trailed 23-18.
After the first and second periods, the match was scoreless. As the third period wound down, both wrestlers had two points. Jirele had control until one second remained on the clock. That’s when Christianson earned one point with an escape. That’s all he needed to win with a 3-2 decision.
Also winning with decisions for Albert Lea were Santana Acosta at 145 pounds and Parker Mullenbach at 152.
Albert Lea’s William Mendez earned the Tigers’ second pin of the evening by taking down Owatonna’s Alex Kubicek in 1 minute and 6 seconds at heavyweight. It was the fastest fall of the dual.
Both teams were missing firepower. Albert Lea’s Triston Westerlund was out with an injury and Owatonna’s Spencer Sorensen did not participate. Both wrestlers are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes: Westerlund at 182 in Class AA and Sorensen at 285 in Class AAA.
After the Tigers took a 9-0 lead, they lost their next four matches. Tanner Cole of Owatonna, ranked No. 2 at 113 pounds in Class AAA, wrestled at 120 and won a major decision over Bryce Hoyt. At 126 pounds, Albert Lea’s Beau Johnsrud, ranked No. 4 in Class AA, was upset by Owatonna’s Chandler Bauer. After a major decision loss by Mason Hammer at 132, a pair of highly touted wrestlers competed at 138.
Devin Nelson was ranked No. 10 in the Guillotine’s Jan. 15 polls — the latest polls are from Jan. 24 — and he wrestled Owatonna’s Brandon Moen, who is No. 5 in Class AAA at 132 pounds. Moen snuck away with a 6-3 decision.
“Both teams made some moves, shuffling guys around,” Goodnature said. “It was working for us, and unfortunately, it worked for them, too.”
Owatonna improved to 7-0 in the conference with the win, and Albert Lea fell to 5-1.
“It was a premier high school wrestling match,” said Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature. “We came out on the short end of it, but not without a great effort from all of our kids.”
Before the Section 1AA tournament, the Tigers have three outings that are all on the road. Next, the Tigers compete against Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Jan. 25 post.