DC/L wrestling

After an early season filled with injury and illness, the Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield wrestling team caught a glimpse of what it might be like to have a full complement of competitors.

And it looks pretty good.

The Charging Dragons took 13 wrestlers to the Tom Keating Invitational Saturday at Foley and came away with 11 placewinners in the individual tournament — a showing that was good enough to claim the team point championship.

“It felt good to go to an individual tournament and bring a healthy squad to compete on Saturday,” DCL co-head coach Brian Clemen said. “We did some nice things at this tournament that included Section 6AA foes Foley, Princeton and Sauk Rapids-Rice, along with some solid programs in Detroit Lakes and Forest Lake.”

Eight of Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield’s 13 wrestlers posted top-three finishes, including three individual championships.

Victor Franco claimed first-place at 120 pounds by recording two pins and a technical fall while improving to 22-2 on the season. Franco received a first-round bye on the strength of his 19 wins entering the tournament, and he justified that position with pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals. In the championship match, he met Sean O’Brien of Totino-Grace and earned an 18-1 technical fall in 3:41.

Jude Link took the 160-pound title with three consecutive wins after a first-round bye, improving to 21-1 on the season. Link needed just 42 seconds to earn a quarterfinal pin. He followed that up with a 23-10 win over Dalton Vanderbeek of Princeton in the semifinal, and an 18-5 win over Totino-Grace’s Michael Loger in the finals.

Tate Link got the Charging Dragons’ other individual championship at 182 pounds, posting two pins after a first-round bye, then getting a 13-5 win over Josiah Peterson of Foley in the final. The three wins boosted Link’s season record to 18-4.

In addition to those top finishes, other Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield wrestlers saw some big successes.

Senior Devin Steinhaus earned the 75th win of his career in the third-place match at 138 pounds, beating Bradley Swiers of Detroit Lakes on an injury default.

Meanwhile, Gabe Nelson finished second at 126 pounds, posting pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to Totino-Grace’s Ethan Sylvester by technical fall. But on his way to the championship match, Nelson knocked off top-seeded Max Ricks of Rogers with a pin in 4:36 in the semis.

Other top finishers for DCL were Sam Marx (third at 170 pounds), Hayden Hoerneman (third, 195) and Brendan Rokala (third, 285).

Shelby Fischer Lund earned a 3-1 record and fifth-place finish at 152 pounds.

Two other Charging Dragons recorded their first varsity wins during the tournament while wrestling unattached. T.J. Christensen finished sixth with a 3-2 record at 182 pounds, getting that first varsity decision with an 11-4 win over Cole Hamilton of Rogers in the first round. Connor Shepersky also got his first varsity win while going 1-2 in the tournament at 126 pounds.

“Overall, it was a good day,” Clemen said. “We will now run a stretch of dual meets for the rest of the month of January before we get to the Orono Invite on Jan. 29.”