By Joe Puncochar, MWCA Individual All-State Academic Chairman
The 2022 edition of the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association All-State Individual Academic Wrestling Team consists of some of the best students involved in wrestling. It also includes some of the state’s top wrestlers. These 30 wrestlers have won a total of 4,541 matches in their careers. The team is made up of wrestlers from all three classes. However, this year Class A and AA make up most of the award winners.
Each year, the MWCA seeks nominations from its member coaches. Coaches submit over 130 deserving nominees for approximately 30 awards. Some weight classes have 10-12 nominations alone. Most weight classes only have two representatives chosen. This award is extremely difficult to earn.
On last year’s team, there were six juniors selected. Those same six were nominated and selected again as seniors along with 21 total seniors and nine juniors. The seniors being selected to their second all-state academic team are Quinn McCalla of Monticello, Christian Noble of Big Lake, Chase DeBlaere of Simley, Drayden Morton of Sibley East, Landen Johnson of Owatonna, and Bennett Berge of Kasson Mantorville. Also on this year’s squad are five students who boast a perfect 4.0 GPA. McCalla, Ethan Lebrija of Morris Area/Hancock Area/Chokio-Alberta, Zach Hanson of Lakeville North, Cade Jackson of Detroit Lakes, and Soren Herzog of Simley. The team average GPA is 3.70. These wrestlers embody what it means to be a student-athlete. They all have set themselves up for success on the mat and in their future endeavors.
This year’s team includes a total of 23 state championships won by 12 different wrestlers. Seven of the 12 wrestlers have won multiple state titles. Bennett Berge leads the way with four titles to his name. Also winning state championships were: Noble, DeBlaere, Morton, Johnson, Brandon Ross of Caledonia/Houston, Walker Bents of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Maxwell Petersen of Byron, Blaine Fischer of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Payton Handevidt of Jackson County Central, Max McEnelly of Waconia, and Gavin Nelson of Simley.
The members of this team are selected by using the following criteria:
- Cumulative GPA – example: 3.95 x 2 = 790 points
- Overall matches wrestled – wins and losses – 1 point per match
- Winning percentage – 77% = 77 points
- State Tournament Participation – 25 points per year
- State Tournament Placement – 1st (50 points), 2nd (40), 3rd (35), 4th (25), 5th (20) and 6th (10)
In this year’s edition, class AA led the way with 15 honorees, followed by Class A with 10 members, and AAA was represented by five members. This year’s group was made up of individuals from 23 schools. Simley, once again, landed the most wrestlers on the team with three. Jackson County Central, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and Kasson Mantorville also had two wrestlers selected. There is definitely a correlation between success on the mat and success in the classroom. Each of these four teams have been at or near the top in the state rankings all season.
Each year there are a lot of great student-athletes who are left off the team. Our state’s coaches do a wonderful job of nominating their wrestlers. We have wrestlers from all corners of the state that make up this team each year. Thanks to our dedicated coaches for taking the time to have their wrestlers recognized.
The 30 honorees will be awarded plaques by the MWCA during the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, March 3-5.
|106||Robby Sherk||Park Rapids||11|
|106||Austin Laudenbach||Apple Valley||11|
|113||Gavin Peterson||Cannon Falls||11|
|120||Kie Anderson||Jackson County Central||12|
|126||Christian Noble||Big Lake||12|
|132||Ethan Lebrija||Morris Area-HA-CA||12|
|145||Zach Hanson||Lakeville North||11|
|145||Drayden Morton||Sibley East||12|
|152||Logan Vaughan||Kasson Mantorville||12|
|160||Payton Handevidt||Jackson County Central||12|
|170||Cade Jackson||Detroit Lakes||11|
|182||Will Nihart||South St. Paul||12|
|182||Bren Salo||New York Mills||12|
|195||Bennett Berge||Kasson Mantorville||12|
|Hwt.||Gannon Rosenfeld||Mankato West||12|
|Hwt.||Colton Lindquist||West Central Area/ABE||12|