Tigers take down Rockets, prepare for Huskies
Published 10:09 pm Thursday, January 22, 2015
The battle for first place in the Big Nine Conference standings was set up with a pair of wins on Thursday by the league’s top two wrestling teams.
No. 3 Class AA Albert Lea crushed Rochester John Marshall 59-9 at home on Freedom Night, and Owatonna won 72-8 at Rochester Century.
Century is last in the 11-team conference standings, and John Marshall was third before the loss. Although Albert Lea and Owatonna have annihilated most conference opponents, the Huskies’ closest match was a 17-point win over Rockets.
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“They’re one of the better teams in the Big Nine, and our kids knew that,” said Albert Lea coach Larry Goodnature about John Marshall.
The Tigers answered the challenge by winning 12-of-14 bouts.
By the time the Rockets won their first bout, Albert Lea already had a 21-0 lead.
Jake Johnsrud won an 8-6 decision to start the meet at 106 pounds, and Joe Peterson beat John Marshall’s Justin Higgins with a 20-10 major decision at 113.
Johnsrud and Peterson had limited varsity experience this season, but Goodnature said he was managing the match counts for his other wrestlers.
“We put those two young guys in there, and they did a good job for us,” he said. “Like I’ve always said, we have good depth, and we can run kids in and not miss a beat.”
Albert Lea continued with a 2-1 decision by Gavin Ignaszewski at 120 pounds, a technical fall by Garrett Aldrich at 126, and a fall by Beau Johnsrud at 132.
The Tigers reeled off seven straight victories after their first loss at 138 pounds against one of John Marshall’s two ranked wrestlers.
Devin Nelson returned to Albert Lea’s lineup and posted an 8-4 decision over Jesse Hanson.
From 152 to 195 pounds, Dereck Samudio, Parker Mullenbach and Matt Palmer won by fall; Chris Nelson won by forfeit, and Tim Christianson won with a technical fall.
The winning streak was capped with a fall by Triston Westerlund over Kenny Maclin at 220 pounds.
“They’re both ranked wrestlers, and it was nice for Triston to get that kind of competition,” Goodnature said.
Westerlund is listed at No. 2 in the Guillotine’s polls for Class AA, and Maclin is No. 6 in AAA. Westerlund started with a 5-0 lead and pinned Maclin in 4:59.
“He’s definitely one of the bigger, tougher guys,” Westerlund said about Maclin. “I’ve wrestled him in the summer, and we’re pretty good pals, actually. We respect each other.”
‘The big showdown’
Owatonna hosts Albert Lea at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The winner will take first place in the Big Nine Conference standings and be in the driver’s seat to win the conference crown.
“We’ve got the big showdown on Saturday,” Goodnature said. “We’d like to have as many of our fans come up there so we can fill up half of the gym.”
The Big Nine is top-heavy as the both teams dismantled all of their conference opponents: Albert Lea beat seven conference opponents by an average score of 61-10, and Owatonna beat eight conference foes with an average score of 59-15.
The Tigers’ closest conference dual was a 28-point win over Mankato West, and the Huskies’ closest was the match against John Marshall.
Owatonna won its last three meetings with Albert Lea. The Tigers’ last dual victory against the Huskies was 31-30 on Dec. 15, 2011, at Owatonna.
In addition to being ranked No. 3 as a team, Albert Lea has ranked individuals in six of 14 weight classes: Zach Glazier, No. 3 at 106 pounds; Aldrich, No. 1 at 120; Nelson, No. 5 at 145; Samudio, No. 7 at 152; Christianson, No. 9 at 182; and Westerlund, No. 2 at 220.
Owatonna is unranked at the team level and has four ranked individuals: Peyton Robb, No. 1 at 106; Tanner Cole, No. 3 at 126; Alex Green, No. 10 at 138; and Brandon Moen, No. 4 at 152.