Tigers remain undefeated in duals
The Rush City/Braham wrestling team went 2-0 at a triangular against Pine City/Hinckley-Finlayson and Ogilvie last Thursday in what head coach Andy Hackenmueller called one of their best performances of the season.
The Tigers defeated Pine City/Hinckley-Finlayson, 42-21, and Ogilvie, 48-24, with seven grapplers going undefeated at the event: eighth-grader Tucker Leigland (1-0), senior Tyler Sitz (1-0), ninth-grader Dylan Mielke (2-0), juniors Francis Loerzel (2-0), Brian Nelson (2-0) Dominic Montgomery (2-0), Jake Lynch (2-0) and senior Chase Grant (2-0).
Against the Dragons, it was an exhibition of pins for Rush City.
Mielke won by fall at 132 pounds in the second period, followed by a pin for Loerzel at 138 pounds (1:58) and a win by fall for Nelson at 145 pounds (2:55).
Montgomery sealed a win at 160 pounds late in the third period while Grant recorded the Tigers’ final six-point victory at 182 pounds by fall late in the second period. Jacob Johnson and Lynch were the final two wrestlers to earn team points with decisions at 106 pounds and 220 pounds, respectively.
“It was a good day,” Hackenmueller said. “A lot of the guys had some of their best matches. That was good to see, and we needed that after some tough tournaments this year to get us through the next few weeks so we can make a run at that conference title.”
The next team win over the Lions put the Tigers at 4-0 in dual meets this season.
Hackenmueller said he is proud of the progress his team is making.
“Everyone’s gotten better than last year and since the beginning of the season,” Hackenmueller said. “They’re all working hard. The thing is everyone is pretty young, so no one is really burnt out in the long season‑they’re making progress at a fast rate.”
The first-year head coach said it is also promising that the Tigers remain undefeated in duals considering one of the squad’s top wrestlers, sophomore Isaiah Johnson, is still out due to a dislocated shoulder suffered earlier this season. Johnson’s return date is yet to be determined.
As for the rest of the Rush City team, the boys traveled to an invite at Pine City over the weekend. The Tigers competed with about half of their original varsity lineup as Hackenmueller said a string of his grapplers “got pretty banged up” earlier in the week.
Lynch dropped a weight class at Pine City to 195 pounds and advanced to the finals match, where he lost a tough one by fall to undefeated Kez Flomo of Totino-Grace in the second period after leading 2-1 overall.
Hackenmueller acknowledged Lynch’s ability to reach the finals of each invite so far this season.
“He’s focused each match, stays in good position and just sticks to what he is good at,” Hackenmueller said. “That, and he’s just stronger than most everyone he wrestles.”
The head coach also mentioned a strong showing by eighth-grader Dylan Martin, who also wrestled down a weight class and earned a fourth-place finish in the competitive 106-pound class.
Overall, Rush City placed eighth of eight teams at Pine City with 71 points. East Ridge clinched first place with 201.5 points.
Next, the Tigers travel to Cloquet/Esko for a 7:30 p.m. match on Thursday, Jan. 16.