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East Ridge wrestling: Big week for Raptors

Last week was a good one for the East Ridge wrestling team.

On Friday, the Raptors hosted a quadrangular against Robbinsdale Armstrong, Minneapolis Roosevelt and Rogers.

East Ridge began with a win against Robbinsdale Armstrong 51-22. The Raptors received four wins by forfeit and four wins by fall. The four Raptor wrestlers to pin their opponents were sophomore Emilio Huerta (152 pounds), junior Nate Tigges (170), senior David Kroger (195), and junior Jake Pittman (220). The other win by East Ridge was at 132 pounds, where junior Jake Trevis defeated his opponent 6-3.

In the second match of the night, East Ridge fell 39-37 to Rogers. After two forfeits that gave East Ridge a 12-0 lead to start the dual, freshmen MJ Okada and junior Reid Lyden extended that lead with a fall and major decision at 120 and 126. Also winning for East Ridge were Huerta (152) by fall, Tigges (170) by decision, and Pittman (285) by fall.

Still hurting the Raptors is not having a heavyweight. Head coach Hans Horning said he bumped up Pittman against the Royals to get a more suitable opponent but had to forfeit at 220 to do so.

"Not having those big boys in our room has really hurt this year," said Horning. "It is hard to win when you give up points at the end of your lineup."

The final match saw East Ridge thump Minneapolis Roosevelt, 72-6. Horning said he was able to sub in many junior varsity wrestlers in the match in order to help keep some varsity wrestlers under their match count limits as wrestlers are allowed no more than 36 matches prior to the section tournament.

"This was a nice match for some of our JV guys to get a taste of varsity action and gain some confidence," stated Horning. "It helps our varsity guys too with match count and our younger guys did a great job. They were very aggressive."

The Raptors were awarded seven forfeits during the last match. They also won five matches by falls, with juniors Ryan Thompson (113), Alex Sprangers (145), and Mitch Hobot (152) pinning their opponents. Winning their first varsity matches of their careers were junior DaVonte McClam (170) with a fall in 1:40 and sophomore Zach Dreher (182) with a fall in 3:06.

On Saturday, the Raptors entered the Minnehaha Invitational and nine different East Ridge wrestlers placed, giving the team a third-place finish.

Winning the lone title for the Raptors was freshman MJ Okada at 120. Okada pinned his first three opponents before defeating current 8th-ranked AA wrestler Josh Tarum.

"That is what you call destroying a quality opponent," stated Horning. "The score won't show it, but MJ completely controlled that match and ran his opponent into the ground. MJ is looking great."

Finishing in second for the Raptors were Thompson (113) and senior David Kroger (195).

Huerta (152), Dreher (182), and Tigges (170) all claimed third-place finishes. For Dreher, it was his first varsity tournament after picking up his first varsity win the night before in a dual meet.

"Zach is really coming along," said Horning. "He joined us a little late but has been working very hard and is eager to compete at the varsity level. He is a big boost to our thin upper weights."

Also seeing his first varsity tournament was freshmen Sam Christensen at 126 pounds. Christensen also picked up his first varsity win on the day and took home fourth place.

Trevis (120), and Kevin Siemers (160) finished fifth.

Kenyon-Wanamingo repeated as team champions with 241 points followed by Tri City United with 186 and East Ridge in third with 144.5.