Patrick Ramirez is recognized for his first place win at Janesville on Saturday.
Photo by Darla Schletty
By Shane VanBeek
The Cobra wrestling team's regular season is drawing to a close this Thursday with the final regular season dual against Blooming Prairie. The last few weeks have been hard on the team with injuries and illness that have kept many starters out of the lineup. The team took advantage of the situation by giving younger wrestlers an opportunity to gain valuable experience at the varsity level. These experiences will benefit the program in years to come, and the team is anxious to return everyone in time for the section team and individual tournaments.
On January 30, the Cobras headed to Saint Charles for a triangular with Wabasha-Kellogg and Saint Charles. The Cobras lost both duals on the evening. Winning for the Cobras against Wabasha-Kellogg was Charlie Groll by pin, Patrick Ramirez by pin, Alex Head by decision, and Randy Henderson by pin. Against the Saints of Saint Charles Patrick Ramirez earned another pin, Ethan Otterbein received a forfeit, Max Henderson pinned his opponent as did Cody Saxton, Casey Lang, and Adam Vacura. Although the team came up a few points short on the evening, it was great to see so many underclassmen step up to the plate and win matches against section opponents.
The team also competed in two individual tournaments the past two Saturdays. On January 26, the Cobras traveled to Rochester and competed in the Century Panther Invite. Ten Cobras entered the tournament with the highest finish coming from Patrick Ramirez as he claimed the 126 pound title. Lucas Etchason took second place in the 195 pound bracket dropping a decision to Tommy Peterson in the finals. Peterson is the defending AA state champion at the weight class. Alex Head came back to take third place after suffering a close loss in the semi-final match at 145 pounds. Casey Lang took home fourth place at 182. Adam Vacura pinned his final opponent to take fifth on the day in the heavyweight bracket. Gavin Bowman also earned fifth place with three wins on the day. Randy Henderson and Colton Chicos both earned sixth place in their brackets to finish up an overall good day for the Cobras.
On February 2, the team loaded up and traveled to Janesville for another individual tournament. With illness, injuries, and match count the team only entered eight wrestlers into the tournament. With teams from Chatfield, Owatonna, Jackson County, Totino-Grace, WEM/JWP, St. Clair, Northfield, Medford, and Saint Charles the coaches and wrestlers knew this would be a great test for the team. The highlight of the day once again came from Patrick Ramirez as he won his second championship in a row and third of the season. On route to the title in arguably the toughest bracket, Ramirez defeated opponents from Jackson County, Chatfield, and WEM/JWP. His win over the first seeded Chatfield wrestler will come in useful for the section individual tournament. Lucas Etchason came in second place for the second week in a row at 195 pounds. As was the case the week before, Lucas wrestled a defending state champion in the finals and came up short. Lucas has had the rare opportunity to wrestle three defending state champions, each ranked nationally, within nine days. Although he lost each of the matches, this experience will benefit him as the post season tournaments progress. Adam Vacura earned third place by once again ending his day with a pin over his final opponent. Casey Lang finished in fifth place also pinning his final opponent. Charlie Groll finished the day in sixth place at 120 pounds.
Following the final dual of the season this Thursday, the team will compete in the section 1A team and individual tournaments. Heading into tournament competition the Cobras are hoping to be at full strength. With everyone back in the lineup this team can be a dangerous low seeded team. The primary goal for the wrestlers is the individual tournament at the Mayo Civic Center on Feb. 22 and 23. Many of the wrestlers set the goal of making it to state this season individually and this goal can be accomplished with two days of great wrestling.