by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River wrestling had to wait a little longer than usual for Evan Caldon to give then a boost. As an eighth-grader Caldon was willing in body and spirit, but the former wasn’t big enough yet.
“I weighed 80 pounds. You had to be 84 to be eligible to wrestle 103,” explained the Elk River senior who’s currently 108-37 with 56 pins, has made all-NWSC since ninth grade and medaled at state last year.
Wrestlers with his talent and tenacity usually make varsity in grade seven or eight and notch around 150 wins. Caldon’s will have to settle for around 120. He “chugged a lot of water” just to make weight for JV that year.
By ninth grade, he was a swarthy 90 pounds, and grew to 100. Giving away as much as 13 pounds, he was 22-14, taking fifth at sectional.
Caldon finally started wrestling his own size in 10th grade, going 23-10 at the 119 and 112 slots, and placing third in the section, behind the state second- and fourth-place guys. That spring, in freestyle and Greco-Roman he beat some good wrestlers including one from Apple Valley, boosting his confidence.
Aiming higher as a junior, Caldon was 37-9 with 20 pins. He made state with a 2-1, overtime true-second win over Cambridge-Isanti’s Tyler Tischer in Section 7AAA at Elk River, then reached state semifinals at 126 and took home a sixth-place medal with a 3-2 record at the Xcel Center.
Caldon, 5-foot-9 and normally 140 pounds, is 25-4 with 16 pins this season at 132. He won Elk River and Cambridge-Isanti tourneys for the second time each. At Rumble in the Red in Fargo (60 teams, five states), he was 6-2 and placed fifth among 51. His 100th win Jan. 5 was a 5-0 decision over Prior Lake’s Ben Rock, at Cambridge.
“My 100th, and that true-second win at home were the biggest,” Caldon said. “That’s when you know all the hard work is paying off.”
Coach Paul Nelson assessed: “Evan is very competitive, very committed. He wrestles year-round. He works hard on technique, and he makes very few mistakes. He puts in extra time training and conditioning up. He hates to lose, and that is a big part of his success.”
Caldon is strong in the hips, critical for a wrestler’s ability to push the other guy away, said Nelson. The Elk captain uses that edge especially on his favorite move. The “step-over” is a sequence that starts with an opponent shooting for his left leg. Caldon lives for that moment. He reaches under the near arm to grab the far elbow, shimmies past the guy’s head and throws a hip to capsize him. “Then he’s on his back and I’m on top.”
Caldon is ranked No. 7 in Class 3A. His losses were against Class 3A’s No. 2 and 3 guys, and Class 1A’s No. 2, along with a South Dakota state runner-up. He’s beaten a No. 2 South Dakotan and a couple of guys previously ranked.
Away from wrestling, his primary interest is learning Chinese with a goal of entering international business, like his father, who deals in computer parts. Caldon has taken three years of Chinese and is president of the Chinese Club. In the summer of 2011 he spent 14 days in China on a school trip, then 14 more in China and Japan when his dad came over on business.
Wrestling has been his sports focus since the day in kindergarten when his mom saw a notice in the paper and took him in. His brother, Garrett, two years younger, followed. (They were both ERI champs last Saturday.) He also runs JV cross country to stay in shape.
“In wrestling, it’s all on you. It’s your determination and perseverance that will get you where you want to be,” said Caldon, who speaks as precisely as he wrestles.
“Most people don’t know this but a lot of wrestling is in your head. You’ve got to have the will to win, because it’s a dogfight out there.”
THE CALDON SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 …. Family: parents, Amy and Lincoln; younger siblings, Garrett and Claire … Sport: cross country, wrestling …. Other activities: Chinese Club (past president) … Academics: 3.4 GPA …. College plans: undecided where; wrestling; international business major, Chinese minor
Favorite stuff — Classes: physics, Chinese … TV show: “That 70’s Show” … Movies: “Harry Potter” series …. Reading: “The Hobbitt” and “Lord of the Rings” plus Guillotine, USA Wrestling … Athlete: David Taylor … Food: “Dad’s pork chops, rice and spicy green beans.” … Drink: offseason, Purple Arizona; in season, water … Kickback: poker with buddies ….. Would like to visit: China and Japan (again)