by Eric Oslund
The Elks started off the 2017 portion of their schedule by wrestling Blaine in a conference match on Thursday, Jan. 5. The Elks dropped the first two matches before Carter Otto picked up his sixth win of the season with a 13-4 major decision at 120 pounds.
Blaine came back and claimed the next three weights before senior Cullin Kruse gave Elk River six team points with a fall at the 2:16 mark. Blaine led the Elks at this point in the match by a score of 10-28.
The two teams then traded wins at 160 and 170 pounds. Sam Gibas added six for the Elks at 170 with a fall to keep the Elks in striking range, but their hopes dissolved when the Bengals won with a pin at 182. Stoyan Slavkov and Casey Schilz added to the Elks point total with falls in a combined time of 1:36, but, in the end, Blaine claimed the team win with a score of 43-28.
“I knew Blaine matched up with us pretty well. We expected that to get a win we would have to count on bonus points and keep them from scoring any bonus,” said head coach Bryan Kulm. “Unfortunately, they were able to win a couple of the close matches and get pins where we needed to keep things close.”
Saturday, the team competed in the annual Bluejacket Invite at Cambridge-Isanti High School. The Elks have been participating in this tournament since its inception and Coach Kulm said, “We like going there as it has been a pretty good tournament for us in terms of the level of competition is good and we tend to have opportunities to get put a lot of our guys on the medal stand.”
The tournament did prove to be successful one for nine Elk wrestlers. Schilz led the charge claiming the Elks lone championship at 220 lbs.
“Casey came into the tournament pretty motivated and wrestled like he was not going to be denied,” Klum said. “His finals match was an exciting one and I was pretty proud of his smart and aggressive approach in that match. He beat a kid that was both seeded and ranked higher than he was. Casey really wrestled his match, stayed in good position, and scrambled well.”
Other place winners included Gibas, 2nd at 160; Colton Pool, 3rd at 106; Brandon Kidd, 3rd at 132; Slavkov, 3rd at 195; Lafayette Bade, 3rd at 285; Dominik Peterson, 5th at 182; Otto, 6th at 120; and Kruse, 6th at 152.
The team placed 6th overall out of 8 teams with St. Francis claiming the team title and seven individual titles.
“It was kinda of a strange day for us, some guys wrestled well and seemed to be crisp and others came out flat and just couldn’t get it going,” Klum said. “We suffered a tough injury at 145 and I know we would have scored points there, which would have moved us up the team ladder a bit, but, in general, we just have to be more consistent across the board in how we wrestle matches weight by weight and, to me, that is a coaching thing.”
The Elks keep rolling in their conference schedule with a match at Andover on Friday, Jan. 13. Saturday, the Elks stay home and host their annual Invitational. Teams coming to Elk River High School this year include: Chaska/Chanhassen, Fridley, Minnetonka, New Richmond WI, Osseo, Princeton, Robbinsdale Armstrong, Rogers, Sauk Centre-Melrose, and Zimmerman. Wrestling starts at 9:15am.