by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman wrestling team traveled down to the southern suburbs on Wednesday, Dec. 21, to participate in a triangular with Minnetonka and Eastview. It gave them the chance to go up against some different competition and face off against two bigger schools.
Both Eastview and Minnetonka are AAA schools, where Zimmerman is a AA school. The size difference between the two teams was obvious, as the Thunder were only wrestling five guys on varsity, forfeiting a majority of their weight classes. But they looked good when they did take to the mat.
It all started with eighth grader Joe Montplaisir at 106 pounds. He won both of his matches, beating his Eastview opponent 9-2 at the end of three periods, and then pinning his second opponent in the first round.
“He’s long, quick, but he’s wrestling well,” head coach Mark Hayes said of Montplaisir. “He’s avenged some losses he’s had before. I think he only has the one loss on the year. He’s improving and that’s what I want to see out of all our guys. Wins or losses, I want to see improvement.”
Evan Carr was the next wrestler they had go, at 113 pounds, and he looked great in his first match, wining 17-5. The problem was that he just wasn’t able to carry that success over into his match against Minnetonka.
He ended up losing 4-6, but had chances where he probably could have pulled off the win, he just seemed hesitant to go after his opponent.
“He’s got to come out more on fire with things,” Hayes explained when asked about Carr. “He’s being too complacent, I think, and I think he’s just thinking too much instead of just flowing with what he’s got. When he just wrestles, he does really well. But he’s got to get past the thinking part and with the going part. Let his muscles go with what they know how to do.”
Jacob Waalk (145 pounds) was the next wrestler to take the mat for the Thunder, and he ended up losing both of his matches on the night. He got pinned almost immediately by the Eastview wrestler he went up against, but lasted much longer in his second match. But much like Carr, Hayes would like to see Waalk take a couple other shots when he has an opening to do so.
The 170-pound Kalib Kliever was the one slatted to follow up Waalk. He was one of the Thunder wrestlers coming into this meet with an undefeated record for the season, but that streak would end when he faced his opponent from Eastview. He squared off with a kid who was ranked in state at the AAA level and was just able to out last Kliever, but Hayes believes that some good things will come from that loss.
“We let him dictate the style of the match, which didn’t help us,” the head coach said of Kliever’s opponent. “But the nice thing about that loss, he showed some weakness we had that now we can work on. If you just go out there and dominate every match that you have, you don’t get to have those weaknesses exposed. Therefore you can’t work on a whole lot. But now we saw things we need to work on, we’ll build off of that.”
It was clear that Kliever didn’t let the loss effect him too much, though, as he went out against Minnetonka and pinned his opponent in 58 seconds.
Then it was time for Justin Robinson (182 pounds) to take the mat. Like Kliever, Robinson began the night with an undefeated record. But unlike Kliever, he would also leave Eastview High School with his perfect season still in tack, pinning both of his opponents.
“Justin’s just a funky wrestler,” Hayes said. “He gets in some good situations and if he scrambles he usually comes out on top. We still have to work on him just through some things he needs to improve on, so when we get to February we can get to the state tournament with him.”
The Thunder will now have a nice break over Christmas, with their next match being against Princeton on Jan. 5. It is a break that the team needs as they are very banged up at this point in time and need to get healthy before the final stretch of the season approaches.