by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
After facing a girl on the mat for the first time in his five-year varsity career, Evan Caldon grinned sheepishly and said it was “a little awkward.”
Elk River’s best wrestler got the pin against Maple Grove eighth-grader Sarah Tison in the second period at 132 pounds, during the Elks 46-22 win at home Thursday evening.
Caldon, a state tourney sixth-place finisher last year, had taken her down several times previously, scoring points like a pinball machine. Tison squirmed her way out of pins three times. Caldon didn’t seem to want to grip his rival too tightly.
Finally he got the pin with a gentle headlock in the second period as Tison’s headgear came loose and a girls’ head of hair emerged.
“I’ve faced girls before, when I was younger, sixth grade,” he said. “But it’s a lot more awkward at the high school level.”
Tison is a junior varsity wrestler. Maple Grove, not a wrestling power, had her take the varsity 132-pound slot rather than give up a fourth forfeit in the match. They were already forfeiting at 195, 220 and 285.
“I didn’t want to be mean, or hurt her, or anything like that,” said Caldon. “She’s just a JV wrestler and they bumped her up because they had no one else.”
Tison at least got on the scoreboard with escapes, and seemed elated that she made it to the second period.
Told that she had faced Elk River’s best guy, she said, “That seems to be a habit with me. I faced Osseo’s best guy, too.”
This was her second varsity match, she said.
Asked why she chose this particular sport, Tison answered pretty much the same as any other wrestler.
“I just don’t like team sports. I want it to be all on me,” said Tison.
Her teammates include her brother Taylor, a freshman 182-pounder, who lost to Justin Gagnon 7-2.
Tison was the first female to face the Elks in several years. Jaime Hilyar, former Elk wrestler and assistant coach, and current Zimmerman activities director, who was at the match for alumni night, said he remembered a Tartan girl about a decade ago. Paul Nelson, current Elk coach, said girls sometimes wrestle on JV against the Elks, but this was the first time he’s seen one on varsity.
“They were going to wrestler her on JV but none of our guys wanted to wrestle a girl,” Nelson grinned. “So they put her on varsity. Actually, I thought she was pretty tough.”
The Elks also got pins from Andrew Perry and Kyle Ziemer, and decisions by Garrett Caldon, Ryan Osberg and Gagnon.
The Elks, 3-4 in conference and 4-6 overall, will host the Elk River Invitational on Saturday, beginning 9 a.m.
Elk River 46, Maple Grove 22
106—Garrett Caldon, ER, dec Tyler Shilson 3-2
113—Brad Osatiuk, MG, dec Ben Gibas 12-3
120—Logan Dick, MG, dec Cole Moenning 6-1
126—Andrew Perry, ER, pinned Etha Saaybe, 1st period
132—Evan Caldon, ER, pinned Sarah Tison, 2nd period
138—Kyle Ziemer, ER, pinned Theo Gee
145—Dominic Thielen, MG, dec Trevor Brink 7-4
152—Will Suehr, MG, pinned John Reiter
160—Ryan Osberg, ER, majdec Jason Chisato-Rodvik 10-1
170—Quin Anderson, MG, pinned Robert Schmitz
182—Justin Gagnon, ER, dec Taylor Tison 7-2
195—Jacob Brown, ER, won forfeit
220—Christian Tobin, ER, won forfeit
285—Garrett Van Eps, ER, won forfeit