By Gary Larson
Mille Lacs County Times
Milaca’s wrestling team hosts Sauk Rapids-Rice Friday night at 7:30. It will be parents night and the final regular-season match for the Wolves.
Then, Milaca will turn its attention to what it’s been working for all season – the Section 7AA South Sub-Section Team Tournament.
The sub-section meet, which Milaca will host Tuesday, Feb. 14, is the first step on a path the Wolves hope will take them back to the Class AA State Team Tournament. Their last state trip was in 2010.
Milaca, which defeated Mora 42-19 in key match Thursday, Feb. 2, will likely be seeded No. 1 in the South Sub-Section, with either Mora or Chisago Lakes receiving the No. 2 seed.
The sub-section Tuesday will open with two matches at 5 p.m. The top two seeded teams will receive a bye and face the winners of the first-round matches at 7.
The winners of the semifinal matches will earn berths to the Section 7AA Tournament Friday, Feb. 17, at Nashwauk where they will square off with the top two teams from the North Sub-Section.
“We’re where we want to be,” said Milaca Coach Randy Zimmer, whose team is 24-9. “We’re pretty healthy and we’ve settled into our tournament lineup.
“Now, we have to go out and wrestle. We feel we can win the section if we perform at our best. We can’t afford any letdowns and we can’t look past anyone. It has to be one match at a time no matter who we’re wrestling.
“We defeated a good Mora team last week. We won some close matches and got off to a great start.”
Milaca’s tournament lineup will tentatively have:
•Sophomore Ray Hoffman (18-14) at 106 pounds.
•Junior Joey Curtis (31-2), who gained his 100th win last week, at 113.
•Senior Joe Moscho (29-4) at 120.
•Senior Chris Newgard (25-8) at 126.
•Junior Mike Hoffman (7-5) at 132.
•Junior Jonah Gahm (31-2) at 138.
•Junior Dylan Czech (11-22) at 145.
•Ninth-grader Josh Otten (11-7) at 152.
•Ninth-grader Austin Weidner (8-9) at 160.
•Senior Trevor Hoskins (7-14) at 170.
•Senior Jake Earl (24-9) at 182.
•Senior Justin Ladehoff (15-1) at 195.
•Sophomore Brandon Merten (13-12) at 220.
•Senior Jordan Ahner (20-12) at heavyweight.
Others who could move into the lineup are ninth-grader Hunter Noor (12-2) at 113, sophomore Jorgen Erickson (2-4) at 160 and senior Josh Majerus (10-14) at 182.
Semifinals at the Section 7AA meet are at 5 p.m., with the championship match at 7:30.
Against Mora, the Wolves got off to a 21-0 lead as Ray Hoffman scored a pin at 106, Curtis won by forfeit at 113, Moscho won with a technical fall at 120 and Newgard scored a major decision at 126.
Milaca’s other wins were by Gahm, who won a tight 4-3 decision over Ken Kastenbauer at 138, Otten, who won a decision at 152, Earl, who won a decision at 182, Ladehoff, who scored a pin at 195, Merten, who won at decision at 220 and Ahner, who won a decision at heavyweight.
“We couldn’t have wrestled those first four weights much worse,” said Mora Coach Tom Youngblom. “We lost some close matches and I think, with some better wrestling, we could make a match with Milaca a lot closer and possibly win it if we meet up again. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.
“Milaca has a good team and is clearly the section favorite. But, we do enjoy wrestling them.”
The Wolves competed at the Blaine Bengals Duals Tournament Saturday and went 1-2. The meet was a round-robin affair, pitting teams against teams they don’t usually face.
The Wolves topped Osseo 63-12 and lost to Rosemount 27-26 and Coon Rapids 31-28.
Coon Rapids, ranked No. 6 in Class AAA, paced the meet with a 3-0 record.
Curtis, Moscho and Ladehoff were 3-0 in the meet, with Curtis scoring a 6-1 decision over Rosemount junior Dan Rosa. Rosa is ranked No. 7 at 113 pounds in Class AAA while Curtis is ranked No. 7 at 113 in Class AA.
Otten placed second at 160 pounds at the Ninth Grade State Individual Tournament Saturday at Champlin Park while Weidner was fourth at 152 and Jack Barsody placed fourth at 138.
Otten won a 5-3, overtime decision over Nic Yearling of Bloomington Kennedy in his opening match, then won a 7-2 decision over Tim Christiansen of Albert Lea in the quarterfinals. He pinned Tom Delicm of Eastview in the semifinals before dropping a 4-1 decision to Gregory Fraser of Hutchinson in the finals.
Milaca tied for eighth place with Prior Lake and Anoka in the team standings.
Adrian placed first while Eastview was second and Hastings third. Eighty-two schools were represented in the tournament.