1/10/2013 9:46:00 AM 'Cats go 3-1 as Zupko nears wins record
By CHUCK FITZERNorth Branch 7, Moose Lake 3
Hibbing Duals Traveling north last weekend for the Hibbing Duals proved successful for the Wildcat wrestling team. The Wildcats finished second as a team, beating Princeton, Bemidji and Mound Westonka. Four individual Wildcats went 4-0 and each of the four had special accomplishments: Joe Virga (160, 170) was named the tournament’s MVP; Quade Zupko (138, 145) raised his lifetime record at the tournament to 20-0; Dylan Connell (126, 132) recorded his 75th career victory; and Jonah Westbury (285) pinned two of the toughest wrestlers in the state, including one with two seconds left in overtime. Three of the Wildcats’ four team matches – all three of which were against AAA opponents – were decided near the end, and the Wildcats’ only loss came to a tough Centennial team. In their opening dual, the Wildcats built a 31-4 lead against Princeton and wound up with a 44-22 victory.
Though there wasn’t much drama as a team, some individual matches came down to the wire. Mark Sontag (160) lost in a tiebreaker to Princeton’s Billy McClay. And Eric Brown had a tough match at 195, winning 3-1 in overtime over Princeton’s Brent Chambers. The Wildcats won nine of the 14 weights, including pins by Solomon Lunde, Aaron Sistrunk and Carson Velaski. Wildcat head coach Shawn Frederixon said “We wrestled Princeton well as a team. They had a couple of tough kids, but we pretty much controlled that match from the start.” The win over Princeton moved the Wildcats up into the championship bracket, while Princeton dropped into the consolation bracket. The brackets were then wrestled as round robins, with each team facing each of the other three teams in their bracket. The Wildcats faced Bemidji in the first round of the championship bracket.
The Wildcats led 33-31 heading into the 14th and final match at 285 pounds. Westbury and Bemidji’s Alex Johnson, a two-time state entrant, were tied 1-1 at the end of three periods. The first overtime looked like it might end with the score still tied. But with just a few seconds left, Johnson tried a move to take down Westbury. Westbury countered the move and pinned Johnson with two seconds left to win the match and seal a 39-31 team victory for the Wildcats. “Bemidji was tougher than Princeton,” said Frederixon. “This was a good back and forth dual that came right down to the end. Both Jonah and Johnson are tough wrestlers. It’s a big win for Jonah. And for him to get the late pin to win it for the team was pretty exciting.”
In the next dual, the Wildcats and Centennial won seven matches apiece. But Centennial picked up a few more bonus points and beat the Wildcats 37-33. The Wildcats trailed 13-0 before Connell (126) pinned Centennial’s Austin Miller with 18 seconds left in the first period to cut the Centennial lead to 13-6. After Mike Bliskowski was pinned at 132, pins by Velaski (138) and Zupko (145) pulled the Wildcats to within one at 19-18. After Brandon Oberg was pinned at 152, Virga (160) shutout tenth-ranked Will Noll 7-0. At 170, Sontag triumphed 8-2 triumph at 170 over Marshall Johnson of Centennial. Brown shut out Centennial’s Kodie Sickmann in a close one, 3-0, to give the Wildcats their first lead of the match at 27-25. But a forfeit at 195 and Kevin Schmidt’s loss by pin at 220 gave Centennial an insurmountable 37-27 lead heading into the 285 pound match. Westbury pinned seventh-ranked Andrew Gustafson of Centennial early in the third period to make the final score Centennial 37, Chisago Lakes 33. Frederixon said “Here’s another dual where we had a lot of close matches. Guys on both sides were earning bonus points and we were just on the other end of it this time. We’ve been close to Centennial over the years. We’ve never quite gotten over the top and beaten them, but we are definitely pushing them. Jonah had two very tough opponents on the day and beat both of them.” Against Mound Westonka, pins by Sistrunk (133) and Connell (126) helped to give the Wildcats a 21-20 lead heading into the 160 pound match. Virga took on Mound Westonka’s Tyler Hebig, a senior who is ranked fourth at 152 pounds. The match was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. Virga chose down in the third overtime and escaped, earning a 2-1 win. Sontag won by forfeit at 170 and the Wildcats led 30-20. But Mound Westonka won the next three matches; Sampson (182) and Kevin Schmidt (220) were pinned and Eric Brown lost 5-4 to fourth-ranked Bryan Tierney of Mound Westonka. But it wasn’t enough for Mound Westonka as they forfeited to Westbury at 285 and the Wildcats squeaked out a 36-35 win. “Mound Westonka is built like us,” said Frederixon.
“They have really tough kids at some weights and guys working hard to fill in the rest of the weights. Joe Virga was a monster killer for us this weekend. I didn’t realize his opponent was ranked until later. Joe wrestled very smart, very controlled match. That was a win they needed and we took it from them. At 182, Eric Brown knew that his job was to keep the score close and try to score if he could. And he dang near got himself a win. If he got pinned there, we likely would not have won the team match. We did an outstanding job fighting against those kids.” Frederixon continued “As we look toward sections in a few weeks, we will need to be able to go 7-7 in matches with a team and be able to save points and earn extra points to pull out a team win.
We did exactly that in two of our last three matches over the weekend.” Virga’s MVP weekend is even more amazing because all three of the wrestlers he faced and beat in the championship bracket are ranked in the top ten – in AAA. “Joe looked unstoppable,” said Frederixon. “He knocked off anyone who got in his way.” The Wildcats currently have eight wrestlers ranked in the top ten at their respective weights in Class AA: Kyle Schoenecker, 113 pounds, ranked eighth; Dylan Connell, 120, sixth; Quade Zupko, 138, fourth; Mark Sontag, 152, eighth; Joe Virga, 170, eighth; and Jonah Westbury, 285, fifth. Tonight’s triangular against Totino Grace and Columbia Heights, to be held at Totino Grace, gets underway at 5 p.m. The Wildcats will wrestle in two tournaments this Saturday, giving quite a few wrestlers a chance to get in some varsity matches. One squad will head to St. Croix Lutheran at 9 a.m., while another group heads up to Pine City for a 10 a.m. start. ZUPKO WATCH Quade Zupko’s four wins gave him 168 for his career, pulling him within two of Travis Kammerer’s career record 170. Zupko may break the record as soon as tonight at Totino Grace if he won Tuesday against Milaca and if he wins tonight against Totino Grace and Columbia Heights. Individual Results vs. Princeton 106 - Solomon Lunde won by fall 113 - Aaron Sistrunk won by fall 120 - K. Schoenecker won by FF 126 - M. Bliskowski lost by dec. 132 - D. Connell won by maj. dec. 138 - Carson Velaski won by fall 145 - Quade Zupko won by dec. 152 - Brandon Oberg lost by fall 160 - Mark Sontag lost by dec. 170 - Joe Virga won by maj. dec. 182 - Mike Sampson lost by dec. 195 - Eric Brown won by dec. 220 - Kevin Schmidt lost by fall 285 - J. Westbury won by forfeit Individual Results vs. Bemidji 106 - Solomon Lunde lost by dec. 113 - Aaron Sistrunk lost by fall 120 - K. Schoenecker won by fall 126 - D. Connell won by forfeit 132 - Mike Bliskowski lost by fall 138 - Quade Zupko won by fall 145 - Carson Velaski lost by dec. 152 - B. Oberg lost by maj. dec. 160 - Mark Sontag won by dec. 170 - Joe Virga won by fall 182 - Mike Sampson lost by dec. 195 - Eric Brown won by forfeit 220 - Kevin Schmidt lost by fall 285 - Jonah Westbury won by fall Individual Results vs. Centennial 106 - Solomon Lunde lost by fall 113 - Aaron Sistrunk lost by dec. 120 - K. Schoenecker lost by dec. 126 - Dylan Connell won by fall 132 - Mike Bliskowski lost by fall 138 - Carson Velaski won by fall 145 - Quade Zupko won by fall 152 - Brandon Oberg lost by fall 160 - Joe Virga won by dec. 170 - Mark Sontag won by dec. 182 - Eric Brown won by dec. 195 - Forfeit 220 - Kevin Schmidt lost by fall 285 - Jonah Westbury won by fall Individual Results vs. Mound-Westonka 106 - S. Lunde won by forfeit 113 - Aaron Sistrunk won by fall 120 - K. Schoenecker lost by maj. dec. 126 - Dylan Connell won by fall 132 - M. Bliskowski lost by maj. dec. 138 - Quade Zupko won by dec. 145 - Carson Velaski lost by fall 152 - Brandon Oberg lost by fall 160 - Joe Virga won by dec. 170 - Mark Sontag won by forfeit 182 - Mike Sampson lost by fall 195 - Eric Brown lost by dec. 220 - Kevin Schmidt lost by fall 285 - J. Westbury won by forfeit