Northland Sports Online

Cloquet-Esko Wrestling Working Through Growing Pains

Jan 2

Greg Oakes-NSO

The Cloquet-Esko wrestling team has struggled getting out of the gate this year. After six matches they are still seeking their first team victory. According to Head Coach Al Denman, this is the way it will be all season. “We are a really young squad this year. We only return two letter winners and have fourteen beginning wrestlers. Not beginning in that they are new to the varsity program, but beginning in that they have never wrestled at any level.”

Denman is confident that his team will be stronger in mid- February for the Section Tournament than they are right now. “We really can’t be looking at the wins versus losses for many of these kids. Success will be measured by other variables, such as learning basic wrestling fundamentals, learning about being disciplined and the sacrifices that come with finishing a varsity season. So many of these kids are new to competing in a varsity sport. Sticking it out for an entire season is a character builder and will help them later in life.”

Denman has had success with his grapplers in years past. The program is in its sixth year and Denman has already had five State tournament qualifiers. Brothers Mike and Jordan Land went twice each, while Simon Thill qualified his junior year.

This year Denman thinks it is time for senior captain Jake Baker to make the trip to the Cities, wrestling at 171 pounds. Last season Baker finished 3rd in the Section meet, with the top two in each weight class advancing to State. So far this season Baker has a 2-1 record. He missed the team’s quadrangular match with Nashwauk, Hinckley and Foley due to illness but is healthy now and ready to lead the team.

Denman is still adjusting his lineup as his wrestlers are settling into weight classes.
The starting lineup as of today with their weight class and grade is as follows:

103- Mitchell Borchardt (7)

112- Seth Stevens (8)

119- Jolynne Denman (11)

125- Jordan Baker (10)

135- Kristina Erickson (10)

140- Treven Farleigh (11)

145- Cohen Nelson (11)

152- Matt Petron (10)

160- Justin Koen (12)

171- Jake Baker (12)

189- (Kyle Langenbrunner (12)

215- Tahkoa Smith (12)

Cloquet-Esko wrestles in the Great River Conference with Aitkin, Ogilvie, Braham, Rush City and Mille Lacs.

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