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Cardinal wrestlers take on several area teams

Lead Summary
Canaan Petersen for the Star Herald

During a busy stretch of the season for the Cardinals wrestling team, the team suffered three team losses but secured many individual victories. 
On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the Cardinals lost to Adrian at home 42-27. They hosted Marshall and Pipestone Thursday, Jan. 13, when they lost to the Tigers, 72-12, and the Arrows 39-18.
On Saturday, Jan. 15, they traveled to St. James for the Big South Conference championship and returned with one medal.
The Cardinals were scheduled to travel to Worthington Tuesday night and to Red Rock Central Friday.
Adrian Duel
The Cardinals hosted the Dragons for the first home meet of the season Tuesday, Jan. 11, and suffered a 42-27 setback as a team.  
After two initial losses, Leif Ingebretsen (wrestling at 120) got the Cardinals on the scoreboard, by securing a fall over Iziah Groenewold.
The team rattled off three consecutive wins, beginning at 132 with Noah Mehlhaff,  pulling the team ahead in team score.  Zach Bradly (wrestling 138) pinned his opponent before Braydon Ripka (wrestling145) came out and did the same. 
The team score was 24-15 through 152 as both teams did not have a wrestler to compete.
At 160, Adrian’s Rilee Heidebrink received a close 8-7 decision over Jaden Reisch before the Cardinals’ Jacob Madison secured a 2-0 decision over Micah Bullerman at 170. 
After these two matches, Luverne remained up 27-18, but four forfeits followed, giving the Dragons the 42-27 team win.
“We didn’t wrestle our best and with a couple different outcomes in a handful of matches, the team score would have been within a couple points,” shared head coach Jordan Kopp.
Marshall and Pipestone Triangular
In a tough matchup against Marshall Thursday, Jan. 13, the Cardinals only won two matches, losing to the Tigers 72-12.
Luverne’s Noah Mehlhaff won by fall against the Tigers’ Collin Klenken at 132, and Braydon Ripka pinned Marshall’s James Gednalske to secure the 12 team points for the Cardinals.  
Against Pipestone, the Cardinals fared better, securing three victories against the Arrows but losing 39-18.
At 126, seventh-grader Hudson Hough pinned Dalten Nielsen before Braydon Ripka won by fall over Bode Bruns at 152. Jaden Reisch secured the third win by pinning the Arrows’ Xavier Banjoko.
“Glad I went 2-1 and was able to win two matches against conference opponents,” said Mehlhaff.
“I fell short against my Pipestone opponent, but it was a good match.”
Big South Conference Tournament
On Jan. 15 the Cardinals faced tough opposition once again from conference foes.  
Wrestling at 145, Ripka secured the only medal for Luverne.
After receiving an initial round bye, Rikpa advanced past Windom’s Caden Swoboda with a 5-0 decision.  He then fell to Fairmont’s Kain Sanders, the eventual champion, by pin in the second period. 
In the third-fourth place match, Ripka was up after a period, but he got caught in a pinning hold, ending his tournament in fourth place. This is the fourth time Rikpa has come home with hardware.
“Competition is tough when it comes to Minnesota teams in this area, and I’m proud of Ripka getting another medal,” Kopp said.
“We wrestled tough and had good matches, especially in the JV tournament.”

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