Reporting Jeff Wald
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Get ready for singlets, cauliflower ears an intense action to invade Xcel Energy Center this week as the best in Minnesota come together for the State Wrestling Tournament.
One of the most anticipated team tournaments in recent memory starts Thursday, and the individual tournament in all three classes starts Friday. A state team champion in all three classes will be crowned Saturday night, and there could be a changing of the guard in Class AAA.
Apple Valley has dominated the state’s biggest class, but St. Michael-Albertville enters this year’s tournament as the No. 1 seed. If everything aligns, Apple Valley and St. Michael-Albertville will wrestle for the state championship Thursday night. St. Michael-Albertville also qualified 12 of its 14 wrestlers for the individual tournament, with four holding No. 1 rankings entering the state tournament.
Apple Valley (26-3) opens the tournament against Moorhead, then would face the Woodbury/Prior Lake winner. St. Michael-Albertville (30-1) opens against Willmar, then would face the Owatonna/Centennial winner in the semifinals. The state quarterfinals are at 9 a.m. Thursday, with the semifinals starting at 1 p.m. and the championship finals at 7 p.m.
Simley (28-6) is back to try and defend its Class AA state title from last year, and the Spartans are the No. 2 seed for the state tournament. Kasson-Mantorville (26-4) is the No. 1 seed in the bracket, while Simley, Foley (22-4), New Prague (25-3) and Adrian (29-3) round out the rest of the seeded teams.
In Class A, Jackson County Central is back to defend its team title from last year and is the No. 1 seed at 21-2 overall. Frazee (14-0), Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (22-1), Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (16-2) and Chatfield (29-1) are the other seeded teams in the bracket.
In the individual tournament, Class AAA should be one of the most competitive fields in recent memory as wrestlers will battle to get to the podium. All 14 of the state’s top-ranked wrestlers in their classes qualified for the state tournament. The field includes Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud Apollo at 138 pounds, one of the most dominant wrestlers in the state. Also keep an eye on Tommy Thorn of St. Michael-Albertville at 120, who won a state title at 113 pounds last year.
Returning state champions include Maolu Woiwer at 113, Thorn at 120, Seth Gross at 132, Grant Nehring at 145, Mark Hall at 152, T.J. O’Hara at 170, Tommy Peterson at 195 and Mark Burckhardt at 285.
The Class AA field is also loaded with talent and experience. Returning state champions there include Juan Torres at 126, Ty Griffin at 120, Brady Berge and Kyle Gilva at 132, Coltan Laganiere at 138, Jake Short at 152, Nick Wanzek at 170, Broc Berge and Lance Benick at 195 and Joe Schiller at 220. Simley, the team favorite in Class AA, also qualified 11 wrestlers for the individual tournament.
Just like the other two classes, the Class A field is stacked with six returning state champions. They include Cameron Sykora at 113, Shane Novak at 120, Taner Trembley at 132, Adam Cooling at 160, Darick Vancura at 170 and Nathan Rose at 195. Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City leads the Class A field with 10 individual qualifiers. Frazee is sending nine to the state tournament, and Chatfield, Jackson County Central and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg all have eight individuals competing.
The State Wrestling Tournament always features one of the most festive and electric atmospheres of the tournament season with eight mats going all at once around the arena floor. Look for the Class AAA state team title match Thursday night to take center stage under the bright lights. It’s one of the most entertaining tournaments to just sit and take in.
Other State Tournament Action
Minnetonka is the Class AA state girls hockey champion after beating Hill-Murray in the title game 3-1 Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center. The Skippers got their by beating Lakeville North in six overtimes in the semifinals. They finished with a 27-4 record. The Blake School won the Class A title, beating Warroad 7-2 on Saturday to finish with a 22-5-3 record.
Roseville won the Class AA state gymnastics team title by a half point over Northfield at the University of Minnesota Friday night with a team score of 149.7. New Prague won the Class A team title with a team score of 149.6.
In Saturday’s individual state competition, Sela Fadness of Austin won the Class A individual all-around competition with a score of 38.575. Northfield’s Bailey Dupay won the Class AA individual all-around with a score of 38.875.