Hibbing Daily Tribune

HIBBING — If the Hibbing High School wrestling team wants to advance into the Section 7AA finals, they have quite a roadblock in front of them.

That’s because the No. 2 north-seeded Bluejackets have to take on No. 1 south-seeded Foley in a Section 7AA semifinal contest, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Proctor High School Gymnasium.

The Falcons are the fourth-ranked team in the state, according to The Gillotine, behind Simley, Kasson-Mantorville and Fairmont/Martin County West, so Hibbing coach Ray Pierce knows his team has its work cut out for them.

“I could see Foley getting to the state finals, and they would give Simley a heck of a battle,” Pierce said. “They have a good team up and down the line, but funnier things have happened in the sport of wrestling.”

Seeing as Hibbing is a distinct underdog in match, Pierce will tell all of his wrestlers to leave everything they have on the mat.

“It’s time to let it all hang out here,” Pierce said. “They have to go for it. If we can catch guys in different things… We have to be looking for that half off of your takedown. Be looking for those opportunities that present themselves in these matches.

“If guys wrestle with abandon, you never know what might happen. I’m not selling this team short, but this is a climb.”

As far as matchups go, Pierce said that won’t come into play as much in this match.

“In order for us to get past Virginia, we set up our lineup up for Virginia,” Pierce said. “We have guys that are wrestling in heavier positions than they will be in individuals. We see how Foley comes in.

“They have to reset their lineup for the finals, just in case they meet up with Princeton or Grand Rapids. Some of those matches we’re not going to get the ones that we want. All in all, the guys with a lot of things on the line still have to wrestle well and prove it.”

According to Pierce, the Falcons are solid from 106 to 285.

“Foley has been good for years,” Pierce said. “They’re a powerhouse team. They only have basketball during the winter, so they have 53 ninth through 12th-graders in their room. They’re constantly reloading.

“The next guy up is as good as the guy who is on the varsity team. It’s a solid program, and we’re trying to get that back here. They have seven seniors and six juniors on their team. It’s a challenge competing with that. One good wrestler makes the next two around him better.”

Pierce did have to use some younger wrestlers against Virginia Area on Tuesday, and he was pleased with the way they handled the situation, especially Drew Shay.

“Every one of them stepped up every time I’ve had to use them,” Pierce said. “We needed that win over Beau Tapio at 182 pounds from Drew. Had that gone the other way, it was over for us.

“It came down to that point. Drew stepped in. We were confident with it, knowing the previous matches he’s had with him. You never know what happens in that situation, especially a first-year varsity wrestler. There’s a lot of pressure. He handled it well. He did exactly what we needed him to do.”

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