Falcons, Hawks ready to rumble in Robbinsdale
The scouting reports are not arduous.
In fact, for much of the winter, the wrestling teams from Armstrong and Cooper don’t spend much time concerning themselves with each other.
They compete in different conferences, and for the most part, spend their weekends heading in different directions for various tournaments.
That, however, all changes this week.
The Robbinsdale Rumble returns to Robbinsdale Middle School at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25.
It will pit the two wrestling teams from Armstrong and Cooper against each other in what has become an annual head-to-head dual for a traveling trophy that comes with plenty of satisfaction for its holder.
The actual implications of the outcome are minimal at best, but that does absolutely nothing in lowering the hype for the participants involved.
“It is probably our biggest match of the year,” said Armstrong senior captain Eric Madsen. “We are already ramping up our practices for it. We want to win that one real bad.”
That exact thought accompanied the Falcons into last year’s match-up, when they entered with a three-year losing streak to Cooper.
For much of the night, it looked as if the Hawks were going to extend it to four. But a late-match surprise victory from Stephen Holten helped turn the match around for Armstrong.
“We were up by like 20 points, but they got that win, and then pinned us in the last three matches,” said Cooper head coach Erik Rogness. “It was disappointing. We kind of felt like they stole that one from us.”
When reminded of the finish, and Rogness’ description of it, Armstrong head coach Bill McCloskey had his response ready.
“We stole one,” he asked. “I don’t know about that. We expected to win that one last year, just like we expect to win this year.”
Yes, this will be fun.
“That is kind of what makes this so exciting,” said Rogness. “Both teams talk some. Both teams really think they are going to win. It is what a rivalry is supposed to be.”
Both teams will come into the night with plenty of unanswered questions.
Armstrong is fielding one of its youngest teams in program history, but a pair of wins two weeks ago gave the Falcons three on the year, and they nearly won a fourth in losing a close Northwest Suburban Conference match with Andover Jan. 17.
Cooper was 4-4 through the early part of last week, and was hindered some by a slew of injuries hit a number of upperclassmen.
Rogness said he expected a couple of those guys to be healthy by Friday. If not, he said the pressure will be on captains Kelly Mead (132-pounds), Lenzel Koskela (160) and Chiv Xiong (195) to do their thing.
“We’ll need our leaders to be leaders,” said Rogness. “Two of those guys have tougher matches, so if they can win, we should be in good shape.”
Armstrong will also lean on its limited experience. Madsen won his 126-pound bout against Andover to improve to 18-3 on the year. Sophomore Eri Gonzalez (160-pounds) also has 18 victories this year. Sophomore Zack Rygg is 21-7 at 170, and big-man Sam Hyland is 11-1 in the 285-pound weight class.
“Our guys will be ready,” said McCloskey. “When we make goals at the beginning of the year, winning this match is always one of them. They make sure it is important, and that makes it a lot of fun.”