State: Lee 2nd, Willner 3rd, Dryer 6th
It was sweet revenge and victory for one Blue Earth Area wrestler at the State Tournament held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
For another, it was a bitter loss to the only wrestler to defeat him this season.
Heavyweight Jake Lee, ranked No. 3, was pitted against No. 2-ranked John Farnell of Chatfield in the championship match.
Lee’s lone loss of the season came at the hands of Farnell when he scored a takedown with seconds on the clock to earn a 3-1 decision during the Park Duals on Dec. 13.
The Buc senior entered the finals with a 42-1 record and Farnell was undefeated at 41-0.
Farnell held a 3-1 lead with time running out in the match. Lee made a desperate attempt for a takedown, however, the Chatfield senior was able to score two points of his own for a 5-1 victory and the State title.
The road to the finals wasn’t an easy one for Lee.
He defeated Goodhue’s No. 7-ranked Luke O’Reilly 7-3 in his first match. Then it was a 5-3 decision over No. 4-ranked Logan Rinke of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
In the semis, Lee hung on for a 6-5 win over Canby’s No. 1-ranked Brad Wollum.
Willner also had a difficult road if he was going to earn a medal.
Before his third-place title match, Willner needed to work his way through the wrestlebacks after a 7-6 triple-overtime loss to No. 2-ranked Evan Stock of Yellow Medicine East in his opening match.
Willner downed Dave Cowen of Minnewaska Area 7-0 and pinned Cole Christianson of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River in 1:52 to advance to the consolation semifinals.
Willner then pinned top-ranked Brad Kneisel of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg in 1:48 for a chance to wrestle for third place.The Bucs 215-pounder (43-1) ended up having a rematch with Stock and avenged his first-round loss with a 6-3 decision and took home the bronze medal.
United South Central’s 215-pounder A.J. Dryer was able to earn a sixth-place medal.
Dryer was defeated in the quarterfinals after winning his first-round match 3-0.
The Rebel junior won his first wrestleback match 10-5 over Brian Reece of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and then pinned Brody Davidson of Crookston in 4:23.
A 3-2 loss to Stock put Dryer in the fifth-place match, where he was pinned by Kneisel for the second time in the tournament, this time in 1:21.
USC’s Preston Staloch was able to rebound following his opening match loss.
The junior 145-pounder had a tough first-draw, No. 1-ranked Jordan Bendson of Staples-Motley. Staloch last a 5-2 decision and was thrown into the wrestlebacks.
He won first match, 5-3 in overtime over No. 3-ranked Sam Lindgren of LeSueur-Henderson.
A 10-6 loss to No. 4-ranked Aaron Zimmer of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg knocked Staloch out of the tournament.