Tigers advance to section semis

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, February 13, 2014

Santana Acosta of Albert Lea carries his opponent from Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton/Waterville-Elysian-Morristown before pinning him in 3 minutes and 41 seconds. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Santana Acosta of Albert Lea carries his opponent from Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton/Waterville-Elysian-Morristown before pinning him in 3 minutes and 41 seconds. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The Albert Lea wrestling team kept its season alive by thrashing a familiar opponent.

The Tigers took down Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 45-24 during the regular season on Jan. 28, and the stakes were raised in the postseason rematch.

Albert Lea won again with a similar score, 42-22, in the Section 1AA quarterfinals Thursday at home.

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The top four teams in the section — Kasson-Mantorville, Albert Lea, Stewartville and Cannon Falls — received first-round byes. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton took the No. 7 seed and had to get past No. 10-seed Faribault to get to the quarterfinals to play Albert Lea.

The Tigers won nine of 14 matches against the Buccaneers.

“As a whole, we wrestled well on our feet,” said Albert Lea head coach Larry Goodnature. “I think the kids got some confidence tonight. It was a solid match.”

Garrett Aldrich and Gavin Ignaszewski made quick work of their opponents to give Albert Lea 12-0 lead with less than a minute off the clock. Aldrich pinned Braydon Johnson in 25 seconds at 106 pounds, and Ignaszewski earned the fastest fall of the evening by pinning Luke Borneke in 15 seconds at 113 pounds.

Aldrich, the No. 6 wrestler in his weight class in The Guillotine’s Feb. 7 polls, was one of six ranked wrestlers who participated. The Tigers had four, and the Buccaneers had two.

Albert Lea’s Beau Johnsrud — the No. 6 wrestler at 120 pounds — was bumped up to 126 pounds to face Reid Ayers. When the grapplers met on Jan. 28, Johnsrud came away with a 1-0 win. Johnsrud won the rematch with the same score, except this time it was in double overtime.

“I was hoping I could win again,” Johnsrud said. “I just went out there and wrestled as hard as I could for as long as I needed to.”

At 138 pounds, the Bucanneers cut their deficit to five points with a fall by Skyler Petry — the No. 1 wrestler at 120 pounds — and a major decision by Colin Ayers — the No. 3 wrestler at 132 pounds.

The Tigers got back on track at 138 pounds when Devin Nelson — the No. 7 wrestler in his weight class — won an 8-1 decision over Christopher Pettis. The match remained scoreless until the second period when Nelson took a 2-1 lead. In the third period, he extended his advantage to seven points.

Triston Westerlund, Albert Lea’s highest-ranked wrestler — No. 3 at 195 pounds — won by forfeit at 220 pounds.

Aside from Aldrich and Ignaszewski’s pins, Santana Acosta and Tim Christianson also won by fall.

“Those falls, that’s the name of this game from here on out in the team portion of it,” Goodnature said. “We were able to get those.”

Acosta dominated his match with a move he’s been perfecting, and he pinned Brendan Dimmel in 3 minutes and 41 seconds.

“It was a duck under, and I’ve been working on it quite a bit,” Acosta said. “I’ve got to go hard and see what I can do.”

Christianson was the aggressor in the 195-pound match. He pinned Travis Miska in 1 minute and 2 seconds.

Goodnature said he was happy to Chris Nelson beat Steven Pettis of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton with a 4-0 decision.

“Chris hasn’t wrestled much all year, so it was nice to see him get a win,” Goodnature said.

The outlook for the rest of the section tournament is positive because the team is healthier than it was at the beginning of the season, Goodnature said. Westerlund and Chan both made their second appearances back on the mat after recovering from injuries.

Next, Albert Lea will wrestle No. 6-seed Plainview-Elgin-Millville at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs beat Waseca 54-27 in the first round of the section tournament and upset No. 3-seed Stewartville 39-27 in the quarterfinals.

“Out of the 12 teams in this section, there’s at least eight solid teams,” Goodnature said. “I think all four teams can beat each other at a given time. It’ll all be close.”

On the top half of the bracket, there are no surprises. No. 1-seed Kasson-Mantorville beat No. 9-seed Byron 54-12 and No. 4-seed Cannon Falls beat No. 5-seed Caledonia 42-29.

A full story with statistics in the Scoreboard: Feb. 13 post will follow.