Six area wrestlers head to state
Six area wrestlers qualified for the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament, set for Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 28-March 2, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Four Blue Earth Area Buccaneers and two United South Central Rebels punched their ticket to the state tournament by qualifying at the Section 2A Individual Wrestling Tournament held on Feb. 22-23, in Blue Earth.
Making the trip to St. Paul for the Buccaneers are Davis Sunken at 120 pounds, Jaxen Klinkner at 138, Koby Nagel at 152 and Dominic Whitlow at 195. Whitlow was the only champion while the other three were second-place finishers.
USC had two section champions qualify. They were Bryce Sonnek at 106 pounds and Blake Legred at 138.
Sonnek was the first area wrestler to earn his trip to state. After a first round bye, the 106 pound sophomore pinned his opponent in the quarterfinals. Sonnek then won his semifinal match with a fall over Elis Kruse of St. Clair-Mankato Loyola in 1:22. Sonnek won the championship with a come-from-behind 6-3 decision over Alex Helgeson of Medford.
Sunken also received a first round bye at 120 pounds, then scored a technical fall in the quarterfinal round. Sunken advanced to the championship match with a 6-2 decision over Trevor Pearson of Maple River. He was then pinned by Jeron Matson of Kenyon-Wanamingo to finish in the runner-up position.
“The win over Pearson was a big one,” Buc’s head coach Randy Wirtjes said. “Pearson knocked him out of the tournament last year in a four-overtime match.”
Legred and Klinkner were the only BEA and USC wrestlers to qualify in the same weight category. Both wrestlers claimed victories by pins in their quarterfinal matches. Klinkner won his semifinal match over Tommy Gupton of Le Sueur-Henderson by a 3-1 decision to advance to the championship against Legred, who had defeated Tyler Craig of K-W by a 15-0 technical fall.
Legred bested Klinkner by an 11-0 major decision to win the 138-pound championship.
“Jaxen has had to wrestle up a weight or two the last couple of years,” Wirtjes noted. “This year he was able to wrestle at the weight he should wrestle and now he is going to state.”
Koby Nagel started his quest for a state tournament bid with a first round bye to set up a semifinal match against former Buccaneer teammate and current Maple River Eagle, Caden Ochsendorf.
Ochsendorf had pinned Nagel the previous week when the two met at the team section tournament.
This time it was Nagel procuring the victory with a reversal with 30 seconds remaining in the match to win 4-3. Nagel lost to Seth Brossard of K-W in the finals by a second period pin.
“Obviously, the win over Caden Ochsendorf was huge, Koby is one of the best athletes on the team and it is nice to see him get to the state tournament,” Wirtjes commented.
Dominic Whitlow claimed the only section championship for BEA at 195 pounds. The senior followed his first round bye with a 21-second pin to reach the semifinal round.
Whitlow recorded a fall against Masyn Elvebak of USC to set up a rematch from the previous week against Owen Hilke of K-W.
Hilke had defeated Whitlow by a 7-4 decision during the section team tournament. This time it was Whitlow who came out on top, pinning Hilke in 3:20.
“Dominic has only been wrestling four years.
He has put a lot of time in the weight room and he wrestled a lot during the summer,” Wirtjes explained, “And he is one of the hardest workers in practice; he doesn’t slow down.”
In addition to the wrestlers who qualified for state, BEA placed a wrestler on the medal stand in every weight category.
The Bucs had two third place finishers. They were Ty Peterson at 113 pounds and Max Ehrich at 145.
Three BEA boys took home fourth place finishes including Carson Sturtz at 106 pounds, Caleb Beeler at 126 and Ian Cornelio at 285.
Finishing in fifth place were Logan Johnson at 160 pounds, Nick Frank at 170, Luke Mertens at 182 and Nick Lawrence at 220.
Jacob Beeler also made it to the medal stand with a sixth place finish at 132 pounds.
“It is the first time in my memory we have had a wrestler medal in every weight category,” Wirtjes said.