Senior Josh Edlund closed out his storied wrestling career with a record of 128-86. After he and fellow Pirate Blake Bergeron, a junior, won their first round matches at the State Class AA Individual Tournament Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul., they each lost their next two matches and were eliminated.
"We felt good about the first round," said coach Chad Hitchen. "With all the nerves and all the hype of getting down there we wrestled really good matches in the first round. Blake wrestled really good in the quarters and that guy went and placed. Blake wrestled really well and was so close to the semis and guaranteeing a place.
"Josh didn't wrestle our match," Hitchen continued. "We wrestled a little scared. We weren't aggressive and that's not a good time to be frozen in our tracks. Josh lost 4-3 in triple overtime in not a good performance. Josh couldn't overcome the obstacle of a triple overtime loss in the quarters. He said it after the match, 'I wrestled terrible.' At that point you don't have to say anything as a coach because they know it. Now we're looking at a long row to hoe there. Josh was physically and mentally spent after that."
Hitchen noted that Bergeron wrestled well even in his losses.
"In the wrestlebacks Blake still wrestled well," Hitchen said. "It was the best I've ever seen him wrestle in the quarters. Even with that let down he still wrestled well. That was a high hurdle to get over and that's when you start to get a little nervous and the doubts start creeping in. 'If I make one mistake now I could be done forever.' In the wrestlebacks it's just two kids really going at it and trying to keep their tourney chances alive. It definitely did take something out of them with those close matches in the quarters."
Edlund, ranked No. 3 at 195 pounds coming into the tournament, breezed through his first round match, leading 4-1 after the first period and 6-1 after the second before winning 9-1 over Big Lake senior Michael Blume. He then found himself in a battle in the quarterfinals with No. 10 Carson Hagen, a sophomore from Worthington/Round Lake-Brewster. Hagen pulled off a 4-3 marathon three-overtime win. After a scoreless first period, Edlund built a 2-1 lead going into the third period but Hagen tied it and pulled out the overtime-win. Edlund was then eliminated by Richfield senior Chandler Arredondo, losing 7-0 in the wrestleback round.
"In Josh's consolation we didn't match up well with the other kid's style," explained Hitchen. He was long and lanky and got a lot of back points. He scored the first takedown and we were out of it. I don't ever think I've ever watched a match that Josh has wrestled where he hadn't scored a point. You probably have to go back to ninth grade. He maybe got pinned right away but in a full six-minute match I don't remember him ever getting shut out."
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Bergeron, unranked at 160 pounds, also breezed through his first-round match, building up a 10-1 lead in the second period before his opponent, No. 7 Joe Virga of Chisago Lakes Area was forced into an injury default. Like Edlund, though, Bergeron found himself in a quarterfinal battle and lost 10-8 to Simley senior Wayne Voss, ranked No. 10. Voss led 4-0 after the first period but Bergeron fought back to wrestle one of the best matches of his career. In the wrestleback round, Bergeron came up short 6-2 to Ben Loosbrock, a senior from Fulda/Murray County Central.
"I wish Josh the best of luck in his future plans in wherever it takes him," said Hitchen. "He'll probably be the first one to admit it and it's disappointing he didn't get back to award stand. You can't take anything for granted. The nice thing is both him and Blake won a match. That was Blake's first state victory. He'll be back. He has the motivation and he'll work hard to make it back."
"I've been doing this for 14 years and I've always said 90 percent of this is mental," explained Hitchen. "Only the best move on. All the guys down there are physically strong. You can do all that work but if you're not mentally prepared all that can be just thrown out the window. The big thing is just being out there and being comfortable, something you're expecting and waiting for. Really shows up now because this is individuals and it's all you. You see kids as soon as that whistle blows, boom, they are out and aggressive. We were that way in match one."