by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Elk River Invitational was won by the host team on Saturday with three Elks capturing championships — Garrett Caldon, Evan Caldon, and Kyle Ziemer.
“We wrestled well for the most part,” said coach Paul Nelson after the Elks claimed the trophy in the seven-team field. “We expected to win it, that was the goal. I know Brainerd didn’t have all their wrestlers.”
Garrett Caldon (22-3), a sophomore, beat Bryton Mutz of Brainerd 9-3 with four takedowns in the 106-pound finals. He had a 55-second pin and 12-1 win to reach finals. The freshman has picked up his first two career tourney titles in back-to-back Saturdays, following his St. Francis title last week.
“Garrett is a kid who does not let guys get away when he’s on top, and on the bottom he can get away,” said Nelson. “He is a big kid, too, for his weight.”
Even Caldon (24-4), a senior, captured his second ERI crown, winning 9-1 in the finals at 132 over Osseo’s Carson Brolsma, getting back points twice. He had pins in 47 and 50 seconds to reach finals.
“Evan just hates to lose, and that’s a big part of it with him,” said Nelson. “He always believes he can win.”
Kyle Ziemer (19-6), a freshman, snagged his first tournament crown, beating a Royalton wrestler 5-1, with two takedowns. He won 7-1 and 14-2 to reach finals.
“Kyle is a tough kid, a good athlete, he’s really coming on,” said Nelson.
Elk runners-up were Cole Moening at 119 pounds, Justin Gagnon at 180 and Garrett Van Eps at 285. Gagnon has been dealing with a concussion issue and claimed his spot in the lineup only this week.
Moening (13-11) had a pin and 9-1 win before losing 16-2 to Alex Bapp of Dassel-Cokato. Gagnon (3-1) had a bye and pin, then lost to Zimmerman’s Mitch Robinson 8-3). Van Eps (5-4) had a bye and 3-2 win, then got pinned by James Weiss of Brainerd.
Elk River had a complete lineup. Nelson noted that Robert Schmitz recently got down to 170 and claimed that spot, strengthening the lineup.
“We have turned the corner,” said Nelson. “Guys are at their (correct) weights. We’ve got pretty much got everything filled, which helps us be stronger ten across the board. This is where we want to be, peaking at the end of the year.”
Placing third for the Elks war Ben Gibas (14-12) at 113; and Jacob Brown (10-16) at 195.
Bob Schmitz (9-6) was fourth at 170 and Andrew Perry (12-15) at 126.
The Elks will wrestle at Park Center on Thursday.