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Fearsome foursome

For all the awards, honors and trophies Detroit Lakes' Brent Eidenschink has earned, there is still a noticeable space looming on his mantle -- a Minnesota state championship.

The Laker 189-pounder has accomplished virtually everything he has set out to do, except winning a state title.

This weekend, Eidenschink has the chance to make a complete sweep of medals as a matman, as he hopes to add a state championship to his 2004 state runner-up honors at 189 and the 2005 third-place finish at 215.

The husky DL grappler can also make Laker history by becoming the first wrestler in the school's history to win a state title.

And Eidenschink has been starving for his last chance of becoming a state champion after falling short of the title last year.

"There is a lot more motivation this year, because there aren't anymore chances after this one," said Eidenschink, who sports a 33-0 record heading into state. "After my sophomore and junior years, I always had another chance."

His senior year almost ended with huge disappointment when he fractured his ankle in January. The first news Eidenschink heard was not all that good.

"The first doctor I saw said I was out the entire season," Eidenschink said. "But I knew I was going to get a second opinion."

That would be all Eidenschink would need, as he entered therapy and just under two weeks later, found himself wrestling again.

And wrestling pretty well, too.

Eidenschink has pinned every opponent since returning from his injury, including registering falls in all of his section bouts. His 29 pins this year also set a DLHS single-season fall record.

He's hoping that domination continues through state, as does his coach Rob Ullyott.

"Brent is just looking great," Ullyott said. "He has lots of confidence heading into state, and has high expectations. I know someday we will get a state champion here, but hopefully it's going to happen this year, with Brent.

"He knows there is no pressure from the coaches to win a state title, but if he wrestles hard, it will take an unbelievable effort from someone to beat him."

Eidenschink will open the state against Buffalo Lake-Hector/BOLD's senior Zach Kopel, who has a 21-19 mark. The featured bout in the division could happen in the second round, where Grand Meadow's Lance Peters and Eidenschink could meet up.

Peters was the No. 1 rated 189-pounder -- and a Class 1A state runner-up last year -- before Eidenschink bumped down from 215. Peters is 42-0, so it will be potentially a match between the top two 189 pounders in the state.

Lakers send four to state tournament

Three DL matmen will make a return to state, as junior Mike Griffin and senior Justin Horne repeat as state entrants.

Sophomore heavyweight Jon Tolbert will make his first appearance at state after he joined Eidenschink as DL's Section 7-2A champions.

Tolbert toppled Fergus Falls' Justin Hensch for the section heavyweight crown with a 2-1 decision, improving his season record to 31-8. The Laker grappler entered the section as the top seed, something which he defended well.

"My first day wasn't all that good, although I did get two pins, but my best match came in the finals," Tolbert said. "(Hensch) is a tall guy, about 6-5, so it was a good match."

Tolbert's goals at the beginning of the season was to be at least .500 after he came off a 5-12 season his freshman year.

But huge steps were made and Tolbert started winning and his confidence growing. Soon he found himself with 25 pins on the season and a trip to the state tournament.

"Jon has done a tremendous job, he really came out of nowhere," Ullyott said. "To win the section in the heavyweight division as a sophomore, is almost unheard of."

Conditioning was a key to Tolbert's success, since the majority of his pins came in the third period. Add to the fact that Tolbert's work ethic kept him in every bout, his breakout season is very impressive.

"Jon doesn't have a wide variety of offensive weapons, he just uses the tools he has effectively," Ullyott included.

Tolbert opens against Lake City's Zach Loppnow, also a sophomore, who has a record of 29-12.

"I'm just going to go out and wrestle hard and try to place," Tolbert said of his goals set for state.

Horne is entering his third straight state tournament, after he finished second at sections at 125 pounds. He has garnered enough experience at state to contend for a top six finish this year.

"I feel he has the talent to place at state," Ullyott said of Horne. "He needs to wrestle with confidence. He's been there and has been through the battles."

Horne is ready for his final matches as a Laker.

"I just want to go down and do my best," he said. "I'm pretty confident, though, I can place."

Horne (34-6) opens against Roseau's junior Issiah Hruby, who is 29-4 and owns a two-point decision over Horne this year.

Griffin has found out he has a knack for peaking at the end of the season -- the perfect time to do so.

The Laker junior has been rated in the top 10 at 160 for much of the year, but he feels he is wrestling his best now. He finished second to FF's D.J. Ringquist on a 4-3 decision in the section championship.

"It's just the way I wrestle," Griffin responded when asked about his tendency to peak at the end of the season. "I was also seeded third last year in the sections and won it."

Griffin was 0-2 in his first individual tournament last year, and expects different results this time around. He also wrestled last year in the team tournament when DL won Section 8-1A last year.

"My goal is to finish in the top four," Griffin said. "It will be a little different than last year, when we had the team down there. But I have two matches (at state) under my belt, so that will help."

Ullyott sees Griffin having a good state tournament, just because of the talent he brings.

"Mike has tremendous ability," the DL coach said. "He just needs to relax and wrestle with confidence. Sometimes what happens to him is he tenses up; he just needs to stay relaxed and focused."

Griffin (27-9) will face Montevideo senior James Gallagher (34-6) in the first round.

The state wrestling tournament will be in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Thursday-Saturday.

The Class 2A individual preliminaries start Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Laker results

Section 8-2A individual tournament Friday-Saturday, Feb. 24-25.

DL individual placers (*state qualifier) and championship, True Second results -- 112: 4. Jake Stalberger lost to Josh Harlow (Perh) 7-3 in third-place match....119: 3. James Rogers lost by forfeit to Derek Pesta (LPGE) in True Second match...125: 2. *Justin Horne maj dec David Bond (Minw) 11-3 in True second match...152: 6. Alex Bosch lost to Charlie McCoy (PLPRB) by dec. 6-3 in fifth-place match...160: 2. *Mike Griffin lost to DJ Ringquist (FF) by dec. 4-3 in championship...189: 1. *Brent Eidenschink pin Mike Lodermeier (LF) 1:10 in championship...HWT: 1. *Jon Tolbert dec. Justin Hensch (FF) 2-1.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.