By John Nalan
State Championship Round
In one of the most unlikely comebacks in years, the Hastings Raiders won the Class AAA state title by overcoming a 32-9 deficit by winning the last five matches of their dual with St Michael-Albertville, winning 33-32. The rally started with wins by Ian Pepple and Jericho Cooper and then finished with three rapid-fire pins by Derrick Steinke, Austin McLay and Blake Clemons. The crowd was just adding up the team score before the 285-pound match when Clemons struck with a quick pinning combination that brought the Xcel Energy Center crowd to their feet.
In the third-place match, Stillwater edged out Waconia 33-30. Dylan Dauffenbach, Keaton Urbanski, and Ryder Rogotzke each won their matches by fall for Stillwater. In the fifth-place match, Willmar beat Apple Valley 43-21. Willmar got pins from Steven Cruze and Zander Miska.
The Simley Spartans claimed the state title with a 46-20 win over a very competitive New Prague team. The Spartans got off to a quick start when #2 ranked Austin Grzywinski knocked off #1 ranked Lawson Eller in an ultimate tiebreaker, 2-1. Five more wins by Jake Kos, Brandon Morvari, Amilio Salas, James Salas, and Kaiden Schrandt gave Simley a 28-0 lead. New Prague won the next four, including an overtime win by #1 Colton Bornholdt over #2 Cash Raymond. Simley picked up three pins in the last four weights to seal the title. Pinners were Travis Smith, Gavin Nelson and Soren Herzog. New Prague also got a pin at 195 from Joey Novak.
In the third-place match, Becker beat Kasson-Mantorville in a thriller, 33-27. Becker got pins from Adam Jurek and Tyson Ricker and bonus point victories from Bennett Kujawa, Kaden Nicholas, and Landen Kujawa. Kasson-Mantorville got a big pin from Jonah Coleman and a gutsy win from Luke Swanson over Ethan Duncombe, but it was not enough to overcome the Bulldogs.
The 5th place match was a neutral fans dream, coming down to heavyweight tied 32-32. In the end, Brady Rohde of Dawson-Boyd/Lac Qui Parle/Montevideo United won over Riley Peters of Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus, building up a four point lead in the third period before winning 4-2. United beat the Roadcrew in a battle of two of the longest team names in Class AA. The final score was 35-32. One match that played a big part in determining the win was Zander Clausen’s win for United over Brady Ruhl.
Jackson County Central was the big winner in Class A with a 43-19 win over Caledonia/Houston. The Huskies won ten of the fourteen matches in a dominating performance. Kayden Eller, Seth Stai, Caleb Vancura, and Cameron Scholten each won their matches by fall for JCC. Isaac Rodriguez won a major decision and regular decisions were picked up by Nolan Ambrose, Thomas Freking, Logan Butzon, Isaiah Rodriguez, and Matthew Haley. This was Jackson County Central’s second consecutive state title.
In the third-place match, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) staged a comeback in the last seven matches and overcame a 27-19 deficit to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (BBE). HLWW got early pins by Raydon Graham and Gabriel Michels at 113 and 126, also had one slip away at 120 when BBE’s Louie Tensen came from 7-0 behind in the third period to get a takedown and win by a fall.
In the fifth-place match, Medford held off a late charge from West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville and won the dual meet 37-33. The Tigers used seven consecutive wins from 113 to 152. They got two pins, one at 120 from Kaden Harfmann and one at 145 from Charley Elwood.