by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s Evan Caldon lost three decisions at the state wrestling tournament on Saturday, but his two victories Friday earned him a sixth-place finish and a medal in Class AAA at 126 pounds.
Caldon (39-6), a No. 2 seed as a section runner-up, beat a pair of section champs Friday to reach the semifinals.
“I thought I could do it. Our section is pretty tough,” he noted.
Caldon won his first match 3-2 with a takedown with five seconds left against Lucas Hansen of Albert Lea, who placed third at state last year.
Caldon trailed 2-0 on a reversal late in the second period, got an escape with a minute left in the third, and spent the final minute on the mat trying to “snap him down” while the Tiger senior went on defense. They went out of bounds in a flurry with 10 seconds left. In the final desperate seconds he hooked his leg around Hansen’s ankle and got the takedown call.
“It was one of those calls that could go either way, but maybe it was about time Evan got a break,” said Elk coach Paul Nelson, alluding to a takedown call that Caldon didn’t get in a 3-2 section semifinal loss to the section champion.
“Yeah, that was karma, I think,” said Caldon.
Caldon then faced Henry Wolfbauer of Hopkins, who had beaten Rogers junior Phillip Anderson 15-5 in the first round. Caldon led 5-1 and finished the job with a step-over — “my bread-and-butter move” — for a pin at 3:34.
The two victories assured Caldon of a top six finish and that’s where he wound up, sixth, losing three decisions on Saturday.
In the semifinals, Sam Brancale, Eden Prairie senior, took Caldon down four times and beat him 9-3 . Brancale then won the state title by upsetting three-time state champion Mitch Bengston, St. Cloud Apollo junior, 2-1.
Next foe was Michael Pleski of Forest Lake, to whom he’d lost in sectionals this year (the 3-2 match referred to earlier) and last year. Pleski got him again, building a 5-0 lead in the first period. Caldon rallied in the third period capped by a lateral drop for a takedown that made the score 7-6 but Pleski held him off 8-6.
In the fifth-place match, Roseville’s Steve Levine scuttled Caldon 6-3.
“I lost to him at the Rumble on the Red in Fargo, too,” said Caldon. “He’s a brute.”
Caldon, whose second-place finish at sectionals in a true-second spared the Elks from being absent from state for the first time since 1974, has 82 career wins with a season left.