MINNEOTA - It's been quite a memorable week for Minnesota senior wrestler Christian Skillings. In front of a packed gym on Thursday at Minneota High School, Skillings prepared to make history for the second time this week.
On Tuesday, Skillings broke Sam Derynck's year-old school record with his 199th career victory.
"Me and Sam joke about it because he only had it for a year," Skillings said.
Minneota senior Christian Skillings becomes the first Minneota wrestler to hit 200 career victories.
And against Camden Conference rival Canby on Thursday, Skillings looked to become the first wrestler in Minneota history to crack 200 career wins.
Despite the accomplishments of the past week, Skillings is more focused on preparing for the state tournament, hoping to become a three-time state champion.
"They're both pretty cool, but winning state is the ultimate goal," Skillings said. "They're just a stepping stone towards that."
Photo by Joe Brown
Minneota’s Christian Skillings, top, tries to jockey for position against Canby’s John Deslauriers in their 125-pound match during Thursday’s Camden Conference meet in Minneota. Skillings pinned Deslauriers at 1 minute, 40 seconds to become the first Vikings wrestler to win 200 career matches.
Stepping on the mat against John Deslauriers, Skillings put an exclamation point on his 200th win, pinning the Lancers sophomore in 1 minute, 40 seconds. The No. 6-ranked Vikings jumped out to a 32-0 lead, winning the first six matches of the meet en route to a 59-9 victory.
"It's his night," said Joel Skillings, Minneota head coach and Christian's father. "I'm his dad and I'm proud of him. I'm his coach and I'm proud of him. To feel any other way wouldn't be right.
"I didn't run any of the laps, I didn't do any of the things he's done. It's about him (on Thursday night). ... The 200 plateau, at this school, is big. There's not a lot of magic attached to it, it's a lot of hard work attached to it and he did that work."
|Minneota 59, Canby 9|
|103-Kyle Hennen (M) dec. Jack Citrowske, 6-4|
|112-Nicholas Esping (M) pinned Luke Jelen, 5:50|
|119-Alec Engler (M) pinned Billy Deslauriers, 4:53|
|125-Christian Skillings (M) pinned John Deslauriers, 1:40|
|130-Beau Buysse (M) tech. fall Christian Full, 19-3|
|135-Andrew Swedzinski (M) pinned Hayden Goplen, 2:49|
|140-Cedric Citrowske (C) dec. Isaac Josephson, 9-6|
|145-Alex Lessman (M) pinned Matt Jelen, 3:52|
|152-Travis Longtin (M) pinned Chris Kaddatz, 0:25 (OT)|
|160-Sawyer VanHecke (M) dec. Brandon Garbers, 4-2|
|171-Blake Abraham (M) dec. Zach Gorder, 6-0|
|189-Adam Josephson (M) pinned Ryan Nelson, 5:35|
|215-Josh VanOverbeke (M) dec. Travis Longhenry, 7-0|
|Hwt.-David Bursack (C) pinned Doug VanKeulen, 4:26|
Typically taking a more methodical approach on the mat, racking up points, Christian, who is ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds in Class A, wanted to get No. 200 in convincing fashion.
"I planned on pinning him," he said. "That was probably the best way to hit 200."
Keeping Deslauriers on the ground for most of the first period, Christian held on tight as his opponent tried to spin and juke into an escape. Deslauriers tried to roll over Christian, but the Vikings grappler rolled Deslauriers on his shoulders for the first-period pin.
"I just put pressure on him," Christian said. "You've just got to do it enough times to know what's going on."
Canby head coach Perry Fink, who has won over 400 career matches in his coaching career, said Christian is as technically proficient as they come.
"Technique-wise, he's about as smooth as you can see," Fink said. "He doesn't get out of position and almost everything he does takes minimal strength. He just has such good position, and that's how you become a two-time state champ and a runner up."
It was a rough start for the Lancers before the match, as the team's first three varsity wrestlers, including No. 2-ranked Ted Berckes, were out with the flu. Fink is expecting Berckes to be ready for Saturday's Camden Conference tournament at Minneota.
"We just got the flu so bad. ... Everyone's going to go through it sometime this season, and this was our week to go through it, I guess," Fink said. "They just took it to us all the way up and down (Thursday)."
Nicholas Esping (112 pounds) and Alec Engler (119) won their respective matches by pinfall.
At 130 pounds, Minneota's Beau Buysse picked up a 19-3 technical fall over Christian Full, and Andrew Swedzinski pinned Canby's Hayden Goplen at 2:49.
"The whole team deserves a lot of credit," Joel said. "My job is to take care of all of them. They're great kids and I love working with them."
Down 32-0, Cedric Citrowske got Canby's first win of the match, breaking a 6-6 tie in the third period before coming away with a 9-6 decision over Isaac Josephson. The win was Citrowske's 80th of his career.
"He won the scramble there at the end," Fink said. "It was a real tight match at the end, and we ended up on top."
In the next six matches, the Vikings went undefeated, bringing the score to 59-3. During that stretch, Alex Lessman (145), Travis Longtin (152) and Josh VanOverbeke (215) each won by pinfall.
Facing off against its Highway 68 rival, Minneota was aiming for the big win.
"We knew we wanted to beat them pretty bad because of the rivalry," Christian said. "I don't think we would have been happy if it turned out any different."
In the final match of the night, the Lancers' David Bursack won by pinfall, defeating Doug VanKeulen early in the third period.
"He got a little wild out there and got himself out of position early," Fink said. "But he stayed on the guy and was finally able to catch him there at the end."
Individual milestones aside, the Vikings' aim remains the same: return to state for the second-straight year.
"We're feeling good and taking it one day at a time," Christian said. "We're preparing for the ultimate goal, to make it to state. We'll see what happens."