No. 3 AA Albert Lea beats No. 5 A Adrian

Published 7:32 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brody Nielsen of Albert Lea, top, wrestles Adrian's Alex Fuerstenberg at 120 pounds Saturday during a dual on Alumni Day at Albert Lea. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Brody Nielsen of Albert Lea, top, wrestles Adrian’s Alex Fuerstenberg at 120 pounds Saturday during a dual on Alumni Day at Albert Lea. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

In the Albert Lea wrestling team’s final home meet of the season, the Tigers completed a sweep of all ranked opponents they’ve faced from Class A.

No. 3 Class AA Albert Lea beat No. 5 Class A Adrian 33-21 Saturday on Alumni Night.

The Tigers had six ranked wrestlers, and the Dragons had five. Half of the 14 bouts featured at least one ranked grappler, and both wrestlers were ranked in the 138- ,152- and 182-pound matches.

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“They’re always a good team, and they try to slow things down,” said Albert Lea coach Larry Goodnature about Adrian. “I think we were the more aggressive team, and we were in better shape. That paid off.”

The other ranked teams in Class A the Tigers beat from the Guillotine’s latest polls released on Jan. 23 are No. 6 Chatfield and No. 7 Zumbrota-Mazeppa. Albert Lea also beat No. 9 Class AA New Prague and No. 8 Class AAA Prior Lake.

The Tigers’ only loss was at St. Cloud Tech against St. Michael-Albertville, a team that is ranked No. 2 in Class AAA and has a pair of losses against teams from Illinois but is perfect against Minnesota competition.

Against Adrian, Albert Lea started with five straight wins: Zach Glazier and Brody Nielsen recorded falls; Gavin Ignaszewski, Garrett Aldrich and Beau Johnsrud won with decisions.

“Our lighter weights really get us going, and they have every match this year,” Goodnature said. “That’s big for us.”

Adrian managed its first victory at 138 pounds, when No. 6 Tony Lynn won a 3-2 decision over No. 7 Devin Nelson. The Dragons went on to win six of the last nine bouts.

At 145 pounds, Albert Lea took a 24-3 lead with an 8-7 decision by Santana Acosta. Acosta trailed 6-4 at the start of the third period, but he was awarded a takedown milliseconds before the buzzer.

Adrian’s Michael Preuss, ranked No. 9, defeated No. 8 Dereck Samudio with a 12-8 decision.

When the 182-pound match began, Albert Lea’s lead was 24-12. However, the Tigers extended their lead back to 15 points when No. 8 Tim Christianson won a 3-1 overtime decision over No. 5 Jesse Slater. Last year, Slater took third place at the state tournament with a 7-6 decision over Border West’s Austin Maanum.

“That was a big win for Tim,” Goodnature said.

Albert Lea’s last victory was a fall by Triston Westerlund in 58 seconds over Gavin Engelkes.

“We stepped it up and showed we can run with a good team,” Westerlund said.

The Adrian match followed three matches Friday at Lakeville North and another Thursday at Austin.

Next, Albert Lea (29-1, 9-0 Big Nine) has the chance to seal the conference championship at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Rochester Mayo. The Spartans (5-8, 3-6 Big Nine) are seventh in the 11-team standings. They’re coming off a 60-23 loss Thursday at Mankato West, a team Albert Lea beat 49-21. The last time the Tigers won the Big Nine title was during the 2011-12 season.