by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Evan Caldon had a bittersweet feeling after becoming Elk River’s lone entrant in the state wrestling tournament for the second straight year Saturday, placing second at 132 pounds in Section 7AAA at Anoka.
“I just wish my brother could have been here,” said Caldon, referring to Garrett, the team’s sophomore 106-pounder. “He got sick this week. Otherwise, he would have been in state, too, I think.”
Caldon (37-8), a senior, reached state via the true-second route for the second straight year, beating Anoka sophomore Preston Flaherty 14-8. He had a pin and a decision before losing the title match to Mark Voss of St. Michael-Albertville 7-3.
“I pinned him (Flaherty) in our dual, and this time I was coming off a loss and he was coming off a win, so he had some adrenaline going,” said Caldon.”But I think I stuck it to him for the most part. I thought I had him pinned for a while in the first period.”
Caldon got back points three times and led by as much as 11-3.
About Voss, who has beaten Caldon several times in high school and summer wrestling, the Elk captain said: “Voss and all the St. Michael guys are real good on their feet and getting takedowns. I’m hoping I can beat him at state when it really matters.”
In a very difficult section, the Elks lost 12 of 13 matches in the first round on Friday, but salvaged fourth-place finishes by Cole Moening at 120 and Ryan Osberg at 160, fifth-place finishes by Ben Gibas at 113, Bobby Schmitz at 170 and Garrett Van Eps at 285, and a sixth by Kyle Ziemer at 138.
“As tough as this tournament is, I hope our kids keep it in perspective,” said coach Paul Nelson. “Our first round, we won only one of 13 matches. According to our seeds, we were only supposed to win one …. But that sucked, and it also hurt not having Garrett Caldon in the lineup. He beat a kid (earlier) who’s going to state.”
Not only does 7AAA have four of the Dirty Dozen (ranked) teams, but the depth after those four is such that Forest Lake, seeded seventh in the team tournament, beat Woodbury, the champion of another section, during the regular season.
“As coaches we just have to accept that,” said Nelson. “In Evan’s division, there were five ranked kids, and three of those ranked kids are not going to state.There’s a lot of kids here who put a lifetime into wrestling who are not going to get down there.”
Caldon extended Elk River’s streak of having at least one state entrant every year since 1974. The last two years, he’s been the only one. Last year, he placed sixth at 126.
State Class 3A individuals at Xcel Energy Center will be held Friday and Saturday.
Moening (23-19) at 120 had a 1-2 mark plus a bye for fourth place while Osberg (15-23) at 160 was 2-2 for fourth place. Kyle Ziemer (24-12) was 1-3 at 138 for sixth.
Placing fifth, all with 2-2 marks, were Ben Gibas (17-17) at 113, Andrew Perry (21-23) at 126, Bobby Schmitz (17-15) at 170 and Garrett Van Eps (15-13) at 285. In the fifth-place matches, Gibas beat over Andover’s Gibson Board 2-1, Perry beat Blaine’s Jake Keller 14-6, Schmitz won by injury default, and Van Eps won 6-1 over St. Francis’ Adam Blue, who had beaten Van Eps 2-1 in the first round.