Area Male Athlete: S-M's Erpelding an 'explosion of motion'

Sometimes words don't work hard enough. For instance, when asked what makes Alex Erpelding a dominating wrestler for the Staples-Motley Cardinals, head coach Dave Anglin had a hard time pinpointing one thing. "It's the same old Alex," Anglin said...

Alex Erpelding
Alex Erpelding

Sometimes words don't work hard enough.

For instance, when asked what makes Alex Erpelding a dominating wrestler for the Staples-Motley Cardinals, head coach Dave Anglin had a hard time pinpointing one thing.

"It's the same old Alex," Anglin said. "Hard working. Driven. He just strives to get better each and every day. As far as an athlete that works hard, you're not going to find anybody that works harder than him. I don't care where you go. It's not just in our room. It's a drive to exceed what expectations he has for himself."

The senior for the Cardinals said his strategy during a match is just instincts and muscle memory.

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Alex Erpelding

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Staples-Motley
  • Sport: Wrestling
  • Position: 170
  • Highlights: Named co-outstanding wrestler at Don Dravis Duals

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"I just go out there and wrestle like I know how to do," Erpelding said. "It's just like in practice. I don't think about it too much. I'm usually more on the offensive, but if he's coming at me, you just do what comes natural, I guess. I've done every move so many times in practice it just comes to me."

Erpelding landed co-outstanding wrestler honors Jan. 21 at the Don Dravis Duals.

The senior posted a 3:18 pin of Wadena-Deer Creek's Tyler Wheeler. He landed a 1:57 pin of Aitkin's Logan Cluff and planted Frazee's Gabe Drewes in 1:19. He was just one of 15 wrestlers in the six-team dual meet tournament to finish undefeated.

"I would say on his feet he's even better than last year," Anglin said. "Then, on the mat, his top position is something else. He just controls you. You don't even realize it. He's just in total and complete control in the top position. Then from coming out from underneath, he's just an explosion of motion."

Erpelding recorded a 14-6 major decision over Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parker Prairie's Holt Truax during the Jan. 19 Pelican Rapids triangular. He scored a forfeit win in the Cardinals' 48-9 defeat of Pelican Rapids.

In SM's 54-16 win over W-DC Jan. 17, Erpelding pinned Steven Erkenbrack in 1:22.


Erpelding pinned Darian Clark of Breckenridge in 53 seconds then pinned Keegan Cavallero of Long Prairie/Grey Eagle in 1:52 to advance to the 182-pound championship of the Jan. 14 BHVPP Invitational. Erpelding was matched up against Truax again but an injury prevented him from wrestling so he suffered his only loss of the season.

Erpelding won the 182-pound weight class of the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Invite Jan. 6 after securing three pins, including a 33-second pin of Cavallero. Erpelding won the 182-pound class of the Big Bear by registering three pins, a major decision and an 8-5 win in the championship match. He also won the Paul Bunyan Invite thanks to two pins and a 6-1 decision over Class 1A's third-ranked Brett Kapsner of Pierz.

Despite his success during meets, it's his work in the practice room that has been most valuable to the Cardinals' program.

"It's a big responsibility," Erpelding said. "I try to set goals every day to make sure I'm working hard every day and setting a good example every day. You just have to keep motivating yourself."

Class 1A's second-ranked 170-pounder is one of four ranked wrestlers for 1A's 10th-ranked Cardinals.

He finished last season with a 40-3 record, with his last match his most heartbreaking. As a junior, Erpelding cruised through the 160-pound bracket of the 1A state individual tournament with an opening 6-1 victory followed by a 7-1 decision and an 8-4 victory. That landed him in the championship match against Aitkin's Noah Landrus. The two had squared off earlier in the season and the result was the same-a Landrus victory.

"It motivates me," Erpelding said. "I always want to do better than in years past. You always want to get that one step ahead. I learned I need to keep a good attitude and just keep working hard.

"I just need to do what I know how to do."



Other notable performances:

Basketball: Gavin Smith, Staples-Motley, scored 30 points against Frazee and 21 against Pillager.

Ridge Hunstad, Pillager, finished with 22 points and 10 steals against Bertha-Hewitt.

Tyler Ogren, Lake Region, finished with 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals against First Baptist.

Jack Silgen, Crosby-Ironton, scored 23 points against Pillager.

Hockey: Bryce DeDomines, Little Falls, finished with three goals and an assist against Becker/Big Lake.

Remington Retka, Little Falls, finished with three assists and a goal against Becker/Big Lake. He added two goals and an assist against Rochester Lourdes.


Preston Warren, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored five goals against Breckenridge/Wahpeton.

Josh Maucieri, Northern Lakes, finished with three goals against Park Rapids.

Jake Dykhoff, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored three goals against Worthington.

Nordic skiing: Hunter Zupko, Little Falls, won the Little Falls Pursuit Invite.

Wrestling: Gabe Nagel, Little Falls, finished 3-0 to win the 126-pound division at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted tournament and earned most outstanding wrestler for the event.

Lane Rutten, Little Falls, finished 3-0 to win the 138-pound division of the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted tournament.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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