by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Elk River wrestlers were on the verge of ending a 39-year streak of sending at least one kid to “state” every season.
Then Evan Caldon saved the day.
The Elks’ 126-pound junior won a true-second match in overtime, 2-1, on an escape with five seconds left, to beat a Cambridge-Isanti standout ranked No. 4 in the state, in his team’s final chance Saturday.
The Elks were hosting the Section 7AAA meet, too, so getting blanked for the first time since 1974 would have stung all the more. Kyle Wiemann had just missed with a third-place finish at 285.
“This means a lot to me,” said Caldon (35-6). “All the hard work paid off.”
Caldon was mobbed by teammates, friends and family in the hallway a half-minute after breaking Tyler Tischer’s grasp with “a basic stand-up” move with five seconds left of a match that was a defensive stalemate from the start.
“We snuck one in!” beamed coach Paul Nelson. “Evan deserves it. He has worked really hard. He beat a stud wrestler, too. It’s about time one of those (Cambridge) guys stays home. They get six, seven, eight kids into state every year.”
Caldon was 4-1 at sectionals including two pins and a technical fall. He lost in the semifinals 3-2 to the champion, Michael Pleski of Forest Lake, when an apparent takedown in the final seconds was waved off as the official ruled both kids were out of bounds. Caldon came back with two wins and earned a true-second match after Tischer lost to Pleski in the finals, because he hadn’t wrestled Tischer yet.
“That kid is ranked fourth in the state. I can’t believe I did that,” said Caldon, who’s ranked 10th himself. Last year, he placed third at sectionals, losing to Pleski then, too, and didn’t get a true-second.
Wiemann pulled out a 5-4 win over Anoka’s Dan Davit (whom he’d pinned on Friday) in his third-place match, but only got to enjoy it for about 30 seconds. He sat down with his coaches and watched the opposite mat where Coon Rapids’ Derek Lowe was in overtime against STMA’s Michael Kessler. Had Lowe won, Wiemann would have gotten a true-second, because he hadn’t wrestled Kessler. But Kessler shot for a last-second takedown to beat Lowe 3-1.
And Wiemann’s and his coaches’ shoulders sagged.
“I had a good tournament, but the dream is over now,” he sighed, moments later. “You can wish all you want, but it’s done, I guess.”
Wiemann cited “things you can’t control” like Lowe’s loss, and his own loss to Lowe by the slimmest of margins, 3-2 in the semifinals, all the points on escapes in a match that went the full complement of overtime’s before Lowe got the last get-away in sudden death.
“I lost that one basically on a coin flip,” said Wiemann, meaning the flip for the final 30-second period which Lowe won and chose down. “You can’t control that.”
Lowe is top-ranked in Class AAA and had always beaten Wiemann in conference and sectionals, but was coming off a month’s rehab for a knee mishap.
“So he was not in the best shape and kind of weak,” acknowledged Wiemann. That’s the kind of break athletes like to capitalize upon, and he could not quite get it done.
“Another thing,” he lamented, “is that this was my 99th win. One win away.”
Elk senior Mitch Beaudry had a close third-place match at 182. He got a couple reversals and led most of the way against Nate Lipinski of St. Francis opponent, but Lipinski got a couple reversals himself and prevailed 9-6. Had Beaudry won, he would have had a true-second match.
Cole Moening at 106 also placed fourth. Moening had a 2-0 lead in his third-place match over Cambridge’s Tommy Guy, whom he had pinned in the first round. But Guy ountered a move by Moening and got him in a headlock for a third-period pin.
Coach Nelson pointed out that Section 7AAA is notoriously strong every year. This year the nine-school field has four ranked teams — No. 3 St. Michael-Albertville, No. 4 Cambridge-Isanti, No. 7 Coon Rapids and No. 8 Forest Lake.
“This year, we BEAT Champlin Park, which won their section and is going to state, even in a down year for us,” he said. “Every year there’s lots of kids from this section who are watching kids at state that they’ve beaten.”
How Elks fared
106 – Cole Moening (16-13) pinned Tommy Guy, Cambridge-Isanti, 5:15; lost to Aaron Dick, STMA 8-2; pinned Cole Eischens, Anoka, :46, dec Conner Schlotfeldt, Andover, 16-9; pinned Guy 3:45 … 4th place
113 – no entrant
120 — Andrew Perry (6-23), bye; pinned by Cole Sladen, STMA, 1:22; dec Nate Medin, Cambridge-Isanti, 9-6; pinned by Aaron Wilson, St. Francis, 3:00; pinned by Medin 1:41 … 6th place
126 – Evan Caldon (35-6) pinned Kenny Tye, St. Francis, 1:46; lost to Michael Pieski, Forest Lake, 3-2; techfall Craig Boster, Blaine, 20-3; pinned Kodi Krone, Anoka, :53; dec Tyler Rischer, Cambridge-Isanti, 2-1, 3 OT … 2nd place
132 – no entrant
138 – Trevor Brink (5-23) lost to Robbie Phillips, Cambridge-Isanti, 8-2; lost to Jonah Allen, Blaine, 7-4
145 – Ryan Osberg (8-21) pinned Elijah Dalley, Coon Rapids, 3:12; pinned by Ty Torgerson, Cambridge-Isanti, 1:22; lost to Alex Eastman, St. Francis, 9-0
152 – Aaron Hannan (7-18) pinned by Cody Skog, Cambridge-Isanti, 1:26; lost to Owen Gammell, STMA, 11-5
160 – Kevin Weeks (8-26) pinned by Ryder Paggen, Forest Lake, :45; pinned by Tyler Berdahl, Coon Rapids, :50
170 – Justin Gagnon (10-16) pinned Cole Bakke, Cambridge-Isanti, 3:44; lost to Michael Upton, Forest Lake, 6-4, overtime; lost to Glen Meyers, Baine, 3-1
182 – Mitch Beaudry (29-12) dec Riley Lawson, Coon Rapids, 9-0; lost to Clayton Jennissen, Cambridge-Isanti, 5-0; dec Kyle Winberg, Forest Lake, 9-0; lost to Nate Lipinski, St. Francis, 9-6 … 4th place
195 – Jacob Brown (6-7) lost to Mitchell Eull, STMA, 15-3; lost to Conan Sandberg, St. Francis, 14-4
220 – Zach Brown (13-13) pinned by Nick Edling, STMA, 1:35; lost to Sam Gerlach, St. Francis, 8-0; dec Kyle Willette, Cambridge-Isanti, 4-0 … 6th place
285 – Kyle Weimann (27-13) pinned Dan Davit, Anoka, 5:36; lost to Tanner Lowe Coon Rapids, 3-2, 4 OT; dec Adam Blue, St. Francis, 3-0; dec Davit 5-4 … 3rd place