MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The state’s top high school wrestlers will invade St. Paul this week for the State Wrestling Tournament, one of the most chaotic in the winter state tournament season.
Xcel Energy Center is the host, and once the team competition commences Thursday morning, it’s non-stop action over eight mats for three days. Team state champions will be crowned Thursday night, and individual state titles will be determined on Saturday. In between there will be hundreds of great matches and emotional moments under the bright lights of St. Paul on the state’s biggest stage.
Between making weight and staying healthy, the State Wrestling Tournament is among the most stressful and intense of them all. Here’s a look by class at what to expect in the team tournaments.
Last year, Apple Valley and St. Michael-Albertville met in one of the best state championship matches in recent history. The two teams battled to a 28-28 tie and shared the state title, though neither was really happy about it. The Eagles and Knights are back as the top two seeds this year, with the path set for them to face off again for the state title.
Apple Valley (30-0) has 11 wrestlers that are ranked in the top 10 in 14 weight classes. Of those, they have six wrestlers ranked No. 1 in their weight class and one ranked No. 2. The top ranked wrestlers are Maolu Woiwor at 132 pounds, Seth Gross at 138 pounds, Mark Hall at 170 pounds, Bobby Stevenson at 182 pounds, Gable Stevenson at 192 pounds and Paul Cheney at 220 pounds.
St. Michael-Albertville (23-3) has five wrestlers ranked, with three ranked No. 1. Those are Mitchel McKee at 120 pounds, Tommy Thorn at 126 pounds and Mark Voss at 145 pounds.
The tournament appears to be Apple Valley’s to lose. Other teams competing in Class AAA include Prior Lake, Hastings, Willmar, Moorhead, Tartan and Maple Grove.
In the individual tournament, there are 12 wrestlers with perfect records on the season. Three of those are at 112 pounds in Brad Osatiuk (Maple Grove), Brent Jones (Shakopee) and Rylee Molitor (Sartell-St. Stephen).
Kasson-Mantorville (22-6) is back to defend its Class AA team title after knocking off Simley 30-27 in last year’s state championship match. The Spartans enter the tournament this year as the No. 1 seed with a 23-3 record. They would get another match with Kasson-Mantorville if the KoMets can beat Totino-Grace in the opening round Thursday.
The other teams competing include Foley, Scott West, Pequot Lakes, Dawson-Bioyd and Milaca.
Out of 14 weight classes, Simley has six wrestlers ranked. It’s a quad that’s led by Mack Short, who is the No. 1-ranked wrestler at 152 pounds. Their stiffest competition, if the bracket plays out, is No. 2-seeded Foley, which has five ranked wrestlers.
The individual tournament will definitely be worth keeping an eye on. At 195 pounds, Totino-Grace junior Lance Benick is No. 1 in the state and one of the best in the country at 41-0. There are seven other wrestlers also putting undefeated records on the line this week at Xcel Energy Center.
The 2013 champion Jackson County Central is back to defend its title, but it will be an uphill battle this year as the Huskies come into Xcel Energy Center with the No. 5 seed for the state tournament. Jackson County Central (22-4) features five wrestlers ranked in the top 10, a group that’s led by No. 1-ranked Keegan Moore at 170 pounds.
The top seed for this year’s tournament is Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, which comes in with a 23-1 record. The Falcons bring in eight ranked wrestlers, including three that are No. 1. Those include Larry Bomstad at 145 pounds, Logan Peterson at 152 pounds and Lucas Damm at 220 pounds.
The Class A individual tournament is always one of the most fun to watch as kids do their best to represent their small towns. There are 10 wrestlers coming into Xcel Energy Center with undefeated records on the line.
Action gets underway Thursday morning in St. Paul.