By Craig Moorhead
The Caledonia Argus
Some out-of-State action found Caledonia/Houston wrestlers in Wisconsin as the last weekend of 2019 slid from the calendar. Then as 2020 began, the team took a pair of trips to Iowa, facing some Northeast Iowa Conference opponents.
The Warriors competed in the massive 70-team Bi-State Classic Tournament on December 27-28. The La Crosse event featured 70 teams in three divisions, based on school size. The Warriors took 6th place in the mid-sized second division, which included 25 teams.
“(The) Bi-State is a very tough tournament, in some weight classes the weights are more challenging than the state tournament at the end of the season,” C/H head coach Shay Mahoney reported. “We are proud of the way all the guys competed. We had seven of the 13 competing wrestlers make it to Saturday, meaning they were in the top 16 at their weight class... and that is a great accomplishment. Four were place-winners (top 12), with Alec Francis losing a tough overtime match in the finals.”
Francis’ second-place finish came at heavyweight. Other C/H wrestlers who placed in the top 12 include Tucker Ginther, who took 8th place at 126, Jed Kasten, who finished 10th at 195, and Brandon Ross, who took 11th at 120. Top 16 finishers also included Owen Denstad at 106, Isaac Denstad at 152, and Jack Strub at 170.
At Decorah, Iowa, Thursday, January 2
The Warriors defeated Oelwein 46 – 28, then lost to Decorah 38-34.
In the first match, Brandon Ross earned a major decision at 120, then Tucker Ginther pinned his man at 126. Isaac Denstad got a pin at 152, as did Ayden Goetzinger at 160. More pins for C/H were in the works, including Jack Strub at 170 and Alec Francis at 285. The Huskies scored victories at 132, 138, 145, 182, 195, and 220, but forfeited 106 and 113.
The second contest featured a Viking forfeit at 106, followed by a full slate. Owen Denstad pinned his man at 113, then Brandon Ross scored a decision at 120. Issac Blocker (126) added a 4-2 decision in his weight class, but Decorah scored a 6-2 win at 132. At 138 and 145, the Vikings got pins, then Isaac Denstad defeated his opponent at 152. At 160, Decorah got another pin, but Jack Strub scored a 10-0 major decision at 170. The Vikings got pins at 182 and 220, plus a technical fall at 195. But at 285 (a class which actually has a minimum weight requirement of 195-plus), Alec Francis answered with yet another pin for the Warriors.
At Cresco, Iowa, Saturday, January 4
Caledonia/Houston took on Crestwood and Independence two days later. The first meet went to the hosting Iowans, 42-33, but the Warriors defeated Independence 34-33.
The Cadets got a 5-0 decision at 106, followed by a pin at 113. But Brandon Ross defeated Cole Butikofer at 120, 8-5, then Tucker Ginther pinned his opponent. Crestwood got a pin at 132, won 138 by forfeit, and got another fall at 145. Isaac Denstad got the pin at 152, but the Warriors had to forfeit 160. A decision went to the Cadets at 170, then Jack Strub got a pin at 182, followed by another pin at 182 by teammate Owen Blocker. Crestwood scored via forfeit at 220, but Alec Francis pinned Brayden Ishman at heavyweight.
The other match was a nail-biter. Owen Denstad won a major decision at 106, and teammate Simon Seymour scored a 6-1 win at 113. Brandon Ross got a 7-0 decision at 120, but the Mustangs got a major decision at 126. Isaac Blocker scored a 9-5 win at 132, followed by a forfiet by C/H at 138. Eric Mauss defeated his opponent (9-4) at 145. Teammate Ayden Goetzinger then got the pin at 152. But the Mustangs bounced back with a win at 160 and a forfeit at 170. Jack Strub then pinned his man at 182, but Christian Kremer of Independence answered with a clutch pin at 195. Another forfeit by Caledonia at 220 set the stage for the finale, where Alec Francis pinned his opponent in less than a minute.
Mahoney noted that it was “a busy last week, splitting duals between Decorah and Oelwein on Thursday, and Independence and Cresco on Saturday.”
Talented C/H seniors such as Alec Francis have gotten off to a great start, he added, but “We are predominately a young team and with that we are working at being consistent. The upside is we compete hard, and when you do that and win the close matches, you can beat a good team like Independence, Iowa.”