Tigers are Big Nine champs after weekend win over Huskies

Published 10:20 am Monday, February 1, 2016

Albert Lea’s Gavin Ignaszewski wrestles Owatonna’s Jerez Autridge at 120 Saturday at Albert Lea High School. - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s Gavin Ignaszewski wrestles Owatonna’s Jerez Autridge at 120 Saturday at Albert Lea High School. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

The Tigers reached a season-long goal over the weekend.

The Albert Lea wrestling team defeated Owatonna 41-22 Saturday in front of a packed gym at Albert Lea High School. The win cemented a Big Nine Conference championship for the Tigers.

“It was a great day for Albert Lea wrestling,” said Albert Lea coach Larry Goodnature. “It was pretty exciting and pretty intense.”

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Saturday started out with a youth wrestling tournament in honor of Corey Goodnature. Corey Goodnature, an Albert Lea wrestling alumni and a chief warrant officer in the United States Army, was a pilot for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment of the Army who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. He was one of 16 killed when his company’s MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down while attempting to rescue missing U.S. Navy SEALs. Larry Goodnature said over 300 youth wrestlers between kindergarten and eighth grade showed up to wrestle in the memorial tournament.

The showdown between the Tigers and the Huskies later in the day was also alumni night and freedom night. Larry Goodnature said over 70 Albert Lea wrestling alumni attended the match, and 56 veterans attended, as well. Veterans attending were given free admission and were recognized at the start of the match.

“Our wrestlers put on a show for a packed gym,” Larry Goodnature said. “We wrestled as a team for Albert Lea wrestling pride.”

The Tigers came out strong, with four straight wins — three falls by Jake Johnsrud, Joe Peterson and Zach Glazier, and one major decision by Gavin Ignaszewski — to start the match.

“The first four really got the crowd going,” Larry Goodnature said. “After a start like that the whole rest of the team just kept going.”

Owatonna only managed to get one fall the entire night to Albert Lea’s five.

Larry Goodnature noted that even in the Tigers’ losses Saturday, there was no lack of effort shown by his wrestlers.

“We got beat by their toughest kids,” he said. “They went hard the whole time and didn’t back down, so that was good to see.”

The Albert Lea coach said one big win from Saturday was Jesse Hernandez’s 7-5 decision over Bryce Goodwin. He said Hernandez had previously lost to Goodwin in a major decision this season at the Rumble on the Red tournament in Fargo, North Dakota. It was a good win for Hernandez and for his teammates, Larry Goodnature said.

“They like to see their teammates battle like that,” he said.

According to Larry Goodnature, his three seniors — Mason Hammer, Chris Nelson and Parker Mullenbach — all wrestled great. Hammer and Nelson both won with a major decision and a fall, respectively, and Mullenbach lost in a 5-2 decision.

“I told them, ‘This is going to be your last time to experience a match like this, with a packed gym against a big rival,’” he said. “It was fun to see.”

Next, Albert Lea — now 28-1 — will host Rochester Mayo at 7 p.m. Friday. In the event Albert Lea loses its last regular season match on Friday, it would then be co-champion of the Big Nine. The team Albert Lea would share the championship with is not yet definite, as Owatonna will compete against Faribault this week.

According to Larry Goodnature, the Tigers have now taken eight out of the last 11 Big Nine championships, and have been champions 29 times total.

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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