The Mille Lacs Raiders started the 2021 season with a bang last week, wrestling in back-to-back triangular meets on Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday, the Raiders traveled to Braham to wrestle the Braham/Rush City Knights and the Mora Mustangs. In the opener, the Raiders beat the hometown Knights, 48-36. The night started off well for the Raiders with newcomer Carter Adicks getting his first varsity pin at 106 to put the team up by six. Then Zach Remer picked up his 25th career victory at 113. He was followed up by Chase Calander and Creedon Spengler who each got pins to bump the Raider lead up to 24-0.
The Knights made a comeback, winning three matches in a row to close the gap 24-18. Joe Carlson’s return to the mat at 152 was a nice pin to move the Mille Lacs lead to 12.
Daniel Miller and Nate Strang each added six pointers to keep the Raiders ahead and Jake Wind added a pin to cap off the match and seal the Raider victory.
In the second match of the night, the Raiders fell to the perennial AA powerhouse Mora Mustangs, 70-10. Zach Remer and Daniel Miller were the two grapplers that accounted for the Raider’s ten points.
On Friday, the Raiders hosted a triangular match against the Proctor-Hermantown United and the Staples-Motley Cardinals.
The first match pitted the Raiders against their GRC foes from Proctor-Hermantown. The Raiders handled the undermanned United squad from the first whistle and got a 54-27 win.
Nate Strang led the way for the Raiders with a strong first period pin.
The second match of the night against Staples proved to be much more difficult for the Raiders.
After Zach Remer overpowered his 106-pound opponent to give Mille Lacs a 6-0 lead, Staples got on a roll. Five pins gave the Cardinals a 30-6 lead.
Bailey Geist stopped the bleeding with an impressive second period pin that added a little bit of fire to the Raider sideline.
This enthusiasm was further stoked when eighth- grader Xavier Bullen tossed his Cardinal opponent to the mat and earned a pin a mere 57 seconds into his match.
With the black and gold still down by 15 points the Raider big men needed to wrestle tough if the hometown squad was to grab a victory.
Daniel Miller got a first period pin, and then Nate Strang pulled the team to within three points with a decisive 22 second pin of his own.
Staples had to forfeit at 220, and with only one match left, the Raiders held a narrow three point lead.
Raider heavyweight Josh Golombowski was unfazed by the mounting pressure and quickly took the Cardinal wrestler down and then put him to his back. However, the Staples heavyweight was able to fight off the pin and the match carried on.
Golombowski continued his attack and once again forced his opponent to his back and this time there could be but one outcome – a Raider pin and a Mille Lacs 42-33 victory.
The sweep of the Friday triangular moved the Raider record for the season to 3-1.
Coach Josh Hughley praised his team afterwards, saying, “I was impressed at how well the guys stayed in the match even when we got down early. Tonight was an example of how everyone can contribute in a win. Bailey and Xavier were really key in helping us get this one.”