Pirates looking to keep growing as postseason draws near

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times

As a coach, Wes Hanson is somewhat of a perfectionist. The Crookston wrestling coach is always looking for his team to put on a complete showing every time they step onto the mat.

"That's what we strive for," Hanson said Thursday. "I don't know if teams ever get there. There's always little things that we can be working on."

It's a mindset especially fitting for this time of year.

In their final home competition of the regular season, and third-to-last regular season competition overall, the Pirates took on United Clay-Becker and Thief River Falls in a triangular Thursday. They beat the Badgers, 54-20, before falling 46-31 to the Prowlers, ranked No. 9 in Class AA.

"I thought our guys came out and wrestled really well that first dual and we had some good performances against Thief River as well," Hanson said. "I'm proud of our guys." 

Crookston (19-8) had plenty of highlights in the evening's first match, winning the first four matches. At 113 pounds, Nolan Dans won an 8-6 decision over Class AA's ninth-ranked wrestler, Taylor Johnson, which set the tone along with Evin Trudeau and Zach Brown's pins at 106 and 120 and Ethan Bowman's win by decision at 126.

The Pirates won eight out of the 11 matches that were wrestled against United Clay-Becker. Six of those wins came by fall: Cameron Weiland, Braxton Volker, Hunter Knutson and Cade DeLeon each picked up pins at 138, 145, 160 and 182 pounds, respectively.

Thief River Falls, which beat the Badgers 61-18 before facing Crookston, presented a greater challenge. While the Pirates have plenty of experience facing highly-ranked squads — their last match came against defending Class A state champion Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville — the Prowlers have four wrestlers ranked in the Top 10 at their respective weight classes.

"Their technique is very strong," Hanson said. "They wrestle a lot, they're good in all positions and got some really good wrestlers in the middle of their lineup."

It was at these middle weights that TRF pulled away. Dans, Brown and Bowman ripped off an impressive run of pins before No. 8 Griffin Lundeen pinned Weiland and No. 5 Brady Kasprick did the same to Spencer Ness at 152 pounds. (In between those matches was a Volker win by decision over Ethan Lane.)

The Prowlers won six of seven matches between 138 and 182 pounds. Out of their eight wins, six came by fall and another came by major decision. 

Greg Gonzalez pinned TRF's Collin Bruggeman at heavyweight to close out the night.

The heavy weights provided some measure of consolation for Crookston, though. Ethan Boll won a major decision over tenth-ranked Mason Iverson at 195 pounds, and at 285 pounds, Greg Gonzalez had a quick pin of Colin Bruggeman.

"I think we're getting better with our defense and contesting takedowns and really wrestling all positions," Hanson said of the strides the Pirates have taken this season. "If you can stop one of their attacks and wear on them a little bit mentally and physically and turn it into one of your own, it's a game-changer."

To Hanson, this time of year can be tricky to navigate. Even though it's natural and crucial to be able to take the long view with the postseason coming up, he still wants his team to take things one match at a time and emphasize every competition equally.

That being said, those two things aren't always mutually exclusive. Crookston's next match is on Thursday, March 4 in Frazee for a triangular with the host Hornets and United North Central. The meet will feature three of Section 8AA's top teams, and if one of them can come away with a pair of victories, they'll be on the inside track for one of the section's top seeds and the privilege of wrestling at home during the section quarterfinals and semifinals.

Cade DeLeon nears a pin.

And the things Hanson emphasizes to his team with regards to wrestling a complete match will likely be the same things needed for success in Frazee.

"We gotta do a better job of moving guys on our feet, keep them guessing, get those fakes in and just keep guys guessing and have multiple attacks," Hanson said. "Sometimes we get one dimensional. We wanna show that we're giving ourselves multiple options in the neutral position. Also ... countering and having better defense is going to be key for us down the stretch."

UP NEXT: United North Central is ranked among the "Lean and Mean" teams in The Guillotine's latest Minnesota Class A rankings, and beat defending section champions Badger/Greenbush-Middle River on January 30.

The Warriors, who have three wrestlers ranked in the Top 10, come in with a dual record of 13-6. Frazee, last season's section runners-up, is 6-9 so far.

Ethan Boll had a big win Thursday night with a major decision over Mason Iverson, ranked 10th in Class AA at 195 pounds.

CROOKSTON 54, UNITED CLAY-BECKER 20

  • 106 pounds: Evin Trudeau (Crookston) over Tristan Strom (fall 0:46)
  • 113 pounds: Nolan Dans (Crookston) over Taylor Johnson (dec. 8-6)
  • 120 pounds: Zach Brown (Crookston) over Ryan Francis (fall 1:27)
  • 126 pounds: Ethan Bowman (Crookston) over Jackson Mikkelsen (dec. 7-5)
  • 132 pounds: Sam Helgeson (UCB) over Carter Coauette (major dec. 11-2)
  • 138 pounds: Cameron Weiland (Crookston) over Kamron Smith (fall 2:41)
  • 145 pounds: Braxton Volker (Crookston) over Grady Hines (fall 0:47)
  • 152 pounds: Zeke Noel (UCB) over Spencer Ness (major dec. 8-0)
  • 160 pounds: Hunter Knutson (Crookston) over Ethan Anderson (fall 3:22)
  • 170 pounds: Carston Hamre (UCB) win by forfeit
  • 182 pounds: Cade DeLeon (Crookston) over Blake Bigger (fall 2:12)
  • 195 pounds: Ethan Boll (Crookston) win by forfeit
  • 220 pounds: Wyatt Dunham (UCB) over Hunter Kresl (fall 1:02)
  • 285 pounds: Greg Gonzalez (Crookston) win by forfeit

THIEF RIVER FALLS 46, CROOKSTON 31

  • 106 pounds: Keigan Hermanson (TRF) over Evin Trudeau (major dec. 14-2)
  • 113 pounds: Nolan Dans (Crookston) over Noah Jacobson (fall 4:51)
  • 120 pounds: Zach Brown (Crookston) over Nick Svir (fall 0:27)
  • 126 pounds: Ethan Bowman (Crookston) over Anthony Peralta (fall 1:06)
  • 132 pounds: Kale Geiser (TRF) over Carter Coauette (fall 1:39)
  • 138 pounds: Griffin Lundeen (TRF) over Cameron Weiland (fall 1:32)
  • 145 pounds: Braxton Volker (Crookston) over Ethan Lane (dec. 5-2)
  • 152 pounds: Brady Kasprick (TRF) over Spencer Ness (fall 1:01)
  • 160 pounds: Cody Wienen (TRF) win by forfeit
  • 170 pounds: Brandon Zuniga (TRF) over Hunter Knutson (fall 3:04)
  • 182 pounds: Dakota Fellman (TRF) over Cade DeLeon (fall 0:56)
  • 195 pounds: Ethan Boll (Crookston) over Mason Iverson (major dec. 14-3)
  • 220 pounds: Jolson Sargent (TRF) over Hunter Kresl (fall 1:34)
  • 285 pounds: Greg Gonzalez (Crookston) over Colin Bruggeman (fall 0:43)

The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730 or sports editor Jacob Shames at jshames@crookstontimes.com.

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Cameron Weiland looks to make his move.