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Simley can again focus on wrestling

By Jason Feldman

jfeldman@postbulletin.com

Things are returning to normal for the Simley wrestling team.

A year ago at The Clash, the Spartans were as concerned with the health of a former teammate as they were with their results on the mat.

Kyle Anderson, a 2003 state champion for the Inver Grove Heights, Minn., high school, lay in a V.A. hospital in Minneapolis after suffering severe brain and skull injuries when he was hit by a bomb during the war in Iraq.

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Anderson, a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps, was finally released from the hospital earlier this month after undergoing successful skull replacement surgery on Nov. 7.

"Kyle's doing better," Simley coach Will Short said. "I haven't seen as much of him lately, but it's nice to know he's doing better."

Simley graduated seven seniors off of last year's team, many of whom were on teams with Anderson.

"This group is getting farther away from the guys who wrestled with Kyle," Short said. "We went through a lot last year, but now we know Kyle's safe and at home."

First-day upsets: It didn't take long for a couple of lower-seeded teams to put a kink in the brackets.

Hastings, Minn., a No. 4 seed, upset Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln in the second round, 27-26. Lincoln is ranked 16th in the country, Hastings is ranked sixth in the state.

At the same time Hastings was knocking off a top seed, Kalispell (Mont.) Flathead took out perennial Minnesota power Owatonna, 35-28.

"That's a great program with a great tradition," Hastings coach Paul Vaith said of Wisconsin Rapids, "but our kids had a great week of preparation. They made some sacrifices to make sure they were competitive."

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Hastings beat Kalispell, 26-23, to earn a spot in today's Championship Division.

"We had two practices a day this week to get ready," said Hastings 135-pounder Adam Peterson, who went 3-0 Friday. "Coach said he expected us to do good things. It's nice to see we can compete against the best in the state and the country."

Hastings will be joined in today's Championship Division -- which begins at 4 p.m. -- by Glenbard North (Ill.), Jackson (N.J.) Memorial, and defending champion Carl Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.).

North in the mix again: Glenbard North is one of six teams that have competed in all four Clashes.

The Panthers won the inaugural Clash in 2003 and are back in the Championship Division for third time, thanks to what could be considered a mild upset.

Glenbard cruised into the Bracket B final with a 56-8 win over Coon Rapids and a 44-15 win over Midwest City (Okla.). The Panthers then won five of the first seven matches in a 31-19 win over St. Michael-Albertville, the eighth-ranked team in the country.

"We made the final four two years ago, then lost all three," Glenbard coach Mark Hahn said, "so we know the competition will only get better.

"We have about eight guys who were here last year and they're not intimidated by it."

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Dual of the day -- Jackson (N.J.) vs. Apple Valley: The championship dual of Bracket D was the last dual of the day to finish, lasting more than two hours. The fans who stayed got their money's worth.

Apple Valley needed a pin in the final match to force a 27-27 tie. The Eagles' Alex McCauley forced overtime against Jackson's Dan Hopkins and won, 9-7, but never threatened to put Hopkins in a pinning position.

Each team won seven matches in the dual, and five were decided by three points or less.

Tough day for area teams: The four area teams in the tournament struggled early. Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland, Goodhue, Stewartville and Caledonia/Houston/Spring Grove each lost in the first round and wrestled in this morning's session.

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