Wrestlers scramble with depleted roster
January 17, 2020
Heading into the 2019-2020 season, the CEC wrestling team was behind the 8-ball with lower numbers than expected and injuries. While performing well in individual matches, the team has struggled as a result.
Last Thursday the Lumberjacks hosted a quad meet including Cloquet, Proctor-Hermantown, Mille Lacs (Isle and Onamia) and Nashwauk-Keewatin. Each team wrestled against the other three teams. Despite low roster numbers, CEC was able to garner two team victories in the quad meet.
The 'Jacks defeated Proctor-Hermantown with only four matches that were contended; earning wins for the Lumberjacks were Bohdon Fjeld at 106 pounds with a 7-5 decision and eldest brother Griffin Fjeld (138 pounds) with a pin fall victory. Gage Stankiewicz, Jordan Allen and Evan Erspamer all had victories from matches that were forfeited.
Against Mille Lacs, the 'Jacks led 21-9 after the conclusion of the 145-pound match - when seven of 14 matches were done - but CEC ran out of wrestlers and ending up losing 51-27. Zeb Wehr (152 pounds) was out sick and Sam Bolling is out for the season with a knee injury at 160 pounds. Earning wins against Mille Lacs were Lumberjacks Dylan Marciulionis at 120 pounds (pin), Ayden Mattson 126 (pin), Evan Erspamer (10-6 decision) at 132 pounds, Griffin Fjeld at 138 pounds (pin) and Jordan Allen at 145 pounds (pin). CEC had to forfeit five weight classes. The opposing team earns six team points for every weight class they filled and CEC didn't, thus giving Mille Lacs the easy win.
"Our lack of depth is really starting to reveal itself as the season progresses," coach Al Denman said. "A team that lacks 10 members from the previous year is going to have problems winning many contests and our injuries are only compounding the issues we are experiencing."
CEC picked up a hard fought victory over Nashwauk-Keewatin by a 48-39 margin.
"We did not match up well with them," Coach Denman said. "There were many forfeited weight classes in this dual, with [their] team having a lot of empty weight classes in the lower half of the order and we had a lot of empty weight classes in the top half where most of their wrestlers were." Earning wins for the Lumberjacks were Gage Allen at 113 pounds (pin), Jordan Allen at 145 pounds (pin), and Gage Stankiewicz in the heavyweight class (pin).
"The good news is we have a solid group of younger wrestlers who will take over for our five graduating seniors this year," Denman said. "With a little luck and perhaps some reconsideration by former teammates, the Lumberjack squad will be stronger next season. Some more good news for this season is that the young men we do have on the mat are very competitive."
The Lumberjacks were also in action on Saturday at the Superior Spartan Classic individual tournament.
Cloquet's Griffin Fjeld finished second to Dusty Wilke of Grand Rapids in the 132 pound class in a hard-fought take-down scramble for two points in the closing seconds of the final period. Jordan Allen defeated longtime rival Caydon Lehman 12-4 in the third-place match. Lehman had pinned Allen in their last meeting.
Bohdon Fjeld placed eighth place at 106 pounds even though he had to leave the tournament for a trip to the hospital with two matches to go. During his fourth match, Bohdon broke both bones above his left wrist. He underwent surgery to have pins placed in each bone. Needless to say he will be out for the season in another blow to the 'Jacks wrestling team.
Gage Allen earned sixth place at 113 pounds, Dylan Marciulionis earned fifth place at 120 and Ayden Mattson earned eighth place at 126 pounds. Zeb Wehr did not compete due to illness. Gage Stankiewicz earned seventh place in the heavyweight division with a pin over Sam Pikette of Eau Claire Memorial in his final match.
"When we take into consideration the matches we wrestle head-to-head and exclude the forfeit points we give away for our empty weight classes, this team has lost only three duals," Coach Denman said. "Even with our deficits they are still managing to win [dual meets]."
The Lumberjacks season record is currently 7-7 overall. They were back in action again at home Tuesday against Milaca and Ogilvie and are scheduled to wrestle in Aitken on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The next home meet (against Superior) starts with JV at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 in Esko, with varsity matches to follow. There's another home meet starting at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31.
"There is so much to be proud of with these guys," Denman said. "Wrestling is a fighting sport and these guys do that very well both in the battles they must face on the mat individually and off the mat as a team."
"Cloquet kids and Esko kids sticking together through the hard times," he added. "It's young men like this that should give us all hope in the future."