By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
LAKE CRYSTAL — Louie Sanders’ sophomore year of wrestling with the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial Area team may not have started the way he liked, but the mainstay in the Knights’ lineup is beginning to find his comfort zone.
Sanders helped LCWM Area to a first-place finish in its own tournament Saturday, scoring 214.5 team points. Windom/Mountain Lake was second with 201, Madelia-Truman/Martin Luther was eighth with 96.5, and Le Sueur-Henderson was ninth with 75.
For Sanders, the tournament was a sign that he’s just about back at full strength. He finished third in his 120-pound weight class with a 3-1 record.
“I missed a lot of meets early on because of injuries,” Sanders said. “I fractured a bone in my back while wrestling up a couple of weights, and I had to miss some time. It feels pretty good now so I’m looking forward to getting on a roll.”
That roll may have started Saturday as he improved his season record to 13-5. Despite missing a lot of time, Sanders is currently ranked second in Class A at 120 pounds.
Sanders finished fifth in last year's state tournament and said he never stopped wrestling until the injury. He competed with Team Minnesota over the summer and helped the squad win the national championship at Fargo, N.D.
As part of his training he stayed with his cousin, Zach Sanders, in Minneapolis for an extended period during the summer. Sanders, a graduate of Wabasha-Kellogg High School, now wrestles for the University of Minnesota.
“I worked out a lot, and I learned a lot,” Louie Sanders said. “It seemed like every practice, the coaches would come in with a new move or a new technique for us to work on.”
He said his first goal is to get back to state and then try to win it. He knows, however, that won't be an easy task.
“There’s some tough competition in my section,” he said. “James Goman from Trinity at River Ridge (ranked 3rd) is there, and I see Richy Soto from St. James (ranked 2nd at 126) just dropped down, too.
“I lost to Soto in overtime last week so that will be a tough match. It's going to be a dogfight in our weight class.”
LCWM Area's champions on Saturday were Tanner Elliott at 138 pounds, Lucas Gens at 220,
The runner-ups for the Knights included Tanner Trembley at 145 and Nick Meixell at heavyweight.
Le Sueur-Henderson's champions included Austin Anderly at 106 pounds, Chris Pfaar at 152. Madelia-Truman's lone champion was Adam Cooling at 160 pounds.