Wrestling: Coon Rapids foils Elks 34-25 in crucial NWSC duel

Elk River's Jory Lubinski (in black) battled Coon Rapids' Michael Burkhardt in a near-stalemate between two ranked 215-pounders with the match, and first place, on the line, as the Elk bench watched intently. Burkhardt won in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Elk River’s bid for a conference wrestling championship was probably thwarted Saturday, with a 34-25 loss to Coon Rapids.

The No. 7 ranked Cardinals took a quick 15-0 lead on the No. 11 Elks and fought off a rally in the upper weights at Coon Rapids, taking the upper hand in the Northwest Suburban Conference race.

Elk River's Jake Staffenhagen (top) got control of Brad Danielson on the way to a 9-1 win at 125 pounds. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“There were matches that could have gone either way,” said Elk coach Paul Nelson, “but we gave up those bonus points down low and you can’t do that. After that we had to make up a lot of ground … I’m proud of the kids. They fought hard all the way.”

An Elk  highlight was Eric Stevens beating highly-ranked Cardinal, Kathron Nix, 11-2 for his 100th career win (see separate story).

The Cardinals are 6-0 in conference with four matches left and the Elks 3-1 with six matches left. They are the only NWSC teams ranked in The Guillotine’s top dozen for Class 3A.

Coon Rapids had a great start as their 103-pound Corey Vaillancourt, trailing Elk River’s Zang Vang 5-4 in the third period, suddenly headlocked him for a pin in 5:17. That was followed by another pin, by Zach Lilleberg over Yong Yee Vang, in 3:06.

Coon Rapids' Zach Lilleberg got the pin against Yong Yee Vang as the Cardinals opened a 15-0 lead after three matches. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Then Joe Anderson, who had lost to Elk River’s Evan Caldon three weeks ago at a Fargo tournament, beat the same man 8-4 at 112.

“We wanted those two pins down low although it didn’t appear we’d get the first one for a while,” said Cardinal coach Bob Adams. “Then Joe Anderson got a nice win for us.”

Elk River chipped away with major decisions by Jake Staffenhagen, Eric Stevens, Holton Lubinski and regular decisions by Austin Stevens and Corey Collins.

Mitch Beaudry delivered a huge win at 189. After trailing 4-3 early in the third period, he overpowered Joe Murphy for a stick at 5:07.

That pulled the Elks within 28-25 with two competitive matches left.

Elk 145-pounder Holton Lubinski battled his second cousin Austin Lubinski. Holton won 13-5. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

At 215, Elk River’s No. 4 ranked Jory Lubinski faced Coon Rapids’ No. 5 ranked Michael Burkhardt. The two big guys could not budge each other through six minutes of regulation that ended 0-0 or in two minutes of overtime — a 60-second segment, then two 30-second segments. But Burkhardt pulled out the win 2-1, all the points coming on escapes.

Burkhardt was credited with breaking out of Lubinski’s grasp in the last couple seconds, a call Nelson politely disputed.

“The guy had to clear himself to get the point, and they awarded it,” said Nelson. “It was a questionable call, and that’s why I argued it. That one could have gone other way too.”

With a great deal on the line, it was an exhausting, hard-fought match.

Reflected Adams: “Those were the No. 4 and 5 ranked kids in the state, a couple of warriors. You can get pretty tired in a match like that.”

The Elks’ chances were slim  at that point, as they have a solid heavyweight in Kyle Weimann but he was facing No. 4 ranked Tanner Lowe, who has about 20 pounds on him. Lowe wrapped up the Cardinal victory with a 5-2 decision.

Coon Rapids 34, Elk River 25

103: Corey Vaillancourt, CR, pinned Zang Vang 5:17

112: Zach Lindberg, CR, pinned Yong Yee Vang 3:06

119: Joe Anderson, CR, dec Evan Caldon 8-4

125: Jake Staffenhagen, ER, maj dec Brad Danielson 9-1

130: Darren Gagne, CR, pinned Austin Halleron 3:08

135: Eric Stevens, ER, majd dec Kathron Nix 11-2

140: Jon Chmilowsky, CR, dec Ryan Osberg 16-10

145: Holton Lubinski, ER, majdec Austin Lubinski 13-5

152: Austin Stevens, ER,  dec James Magaard 9-2

160: Corey Collins, ER, dec Riley Lawson 10-5

171: Brandt Halseth, CR, majdec Abe Williams 10-2

189: Mitch Beaudry, ER, pinned Joe Murphy 5:07

215: Michael Burkhardt, CR, dec Jory Lubinski 2-1 OT

285: Tanner Lowe, CR, dec Kyle Weimann 5-2

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