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Wins plentiful at St. Charles place

By Troy Young

tyoung@postbulletin.com

The St. Charles wrestling team was cruising along last week with a perfect 8-0 record.

Then came Dover-Eyota. Then Wabasha-Kellogg.

Suddenly, an unblemished record had two scars on it.

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"When we're healthy, we're capable of beating some teams," Saints coach Scott Kobs said.

Unfortunately for the Saints, they weren't healthy when D-E and W-K came knocking.

Junior Kurtis Munsch, who's off to a 9-3 start this season, is nursing a soar shoulder. Junior Mike Ganrude, who's 12-3, is out with a back injury.

Kobs wasn't making excuses, but admittedly his team would be stronger with a team void of Band-Aids and Ben-Gay.

"We're a good team when everybody's in there," Kobs said. "We're capable of surprising some teams."

Saints junior Todd Halbakken, senior Rian Jones and senior Josh Ploetz are all having stellar seasons. Halbakken is 17-1 at 145 pounds, Jones is 15-4 at heavyweight and Ploetz is 14-4 at 171.

RECORD CHASING: Jerod Boynton and John Wegman are co-holders of the St. Charles career win record with 119 apiece.

Halbakken won his 100th match Thursday against W-K. He's expected to break the school record of 119 wins either late this season or early next season, when he's a senior.

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"It'll be realistic for him to do it sometime in his career as long as he stays healthy," Kobs said.

Halbakken has finished as high as third in the section tournament, but has never wrestled on a mat in St. Paul. "One hundred wins was nice, but he really wants to go to the state tournament," Kobs said. "He's been close, and he's been disappointed."

One of the biggest roadblocks between Halbakken and a trip to St. Paul may be Dover-Eyota's Jed Loftus, who's ranked third at 145 pounds.

TRIO AT 112: Wondering who's the favorite to represent Section One, Class A at state in the 112-pound weight class? Take your pick. Three-time defending state champion Wabasha-Kellogg's Eric Sanders is ranked first in the state by The Guillotine, Southland's Zach Stratton is ranked second in the state and Hayfield's Joe Gunderson is ranked third in the state. Consider the 112 championship Feb. 16 at Mayo Civic Center a state tournament preview.

CENTURY MARK: Southland 145-pounder Tom Hamilton won his 100th match Friday against Grand Meadow/ LeRoy-Ostrander/ Kingsland's Joe Bunne…Goodhue; 135-pounder Chet Lexvold won the 100th match of his career on Saturday against Buffalo at the Park Center Invitational.

NICE MOVE: Minnesota U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, a devoted supporter of amateur wrestling, flew from Washington to the Twin Cities last week to attend St. Croix Lutheran High School freshman Dennis Kingsbury's funeral. Kingsbury died Jan. 12 at the Chaska tournament, which Rochester John Marshall was a participant.

DARK KNIGHT: The elimination of wrestling as a varsity sport at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., announced last week, will affect Joel Stark, a former Wabasha-Kellogg standout. Stark, a junior, is a Carleton co-captain, who, at 174 pounds, is one of the winningest wrestlers on the Knights roster this season. John Marshall graduate Scott O'Reilly is a 197-pounder for Carleton, but he's a senior this season, so the termination of the program won't directly affect him.

HVL CHAMPIONSHIP: The 2002 Hiawatha Valley League tournament is Feb. 2 in Stewartville.

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AAU HONOR: Former Minnesota high school wrestling superstar and Team USA Olympian Brandon Paulson is one of 14 finalists for the prestigious Amateur Athletic Union's (AAU) 72nd annual James E. Sullivan Memorial award, which recognizes the top amateur athlete in the nation. University of Georgia standouts Kelly and Coco Miller, of Rochester Mayo girls basketball fame, were co-winners of the award last year.

IS 4 NO. 1?: Everyone boasts how tough Section 1A is and that may be true, but consider Section 4A, which is home to Minneota (third), Wabasso (fourth), Adrian (10th) and Canby (11th)-- all ranked among the top 12 Class A teams in the state.

For tips or information for Troy Young's weekly high school wrestling notebook that runs every Tuesday, please e-mail at tyoung@postbulletin.com

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