High School Girls Preview

We are ready to embark on a third exciting – and barrier-breaking – year of girl’s wrestling in Minnesota. Participation numbers continue to grow, Apple Valley returns as the defending state champions, and a thirteenth weight has been added for competition.

This preview will be a combination of information for the upcoming season and a feature we call “Better Know A Senior,” where some of the wrestlers from around the state can tell some of their own stories.

Wrestlers to Watch

Senior Skylar Little Soldier of Hastings is undefeated over the last two years, compiling a 22-0 overall record in high school. Four wrestlers have the opportunity to win their third state championship this year. Those wrestlers who have won two state titles are:

  • Skylar Little Soldier, 12th, Hastings
  • Aspen Blasko, 12th, Forest Lake
  • Ella Pagel, 11th, Northfield
  • Charli Raymond, 9th, Simley

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High School Class A Preview

The Minnesota High School wrestling season is set to kick off, and with it comes the excitement of intense competition and the pursuit of state championship glory. The goal of these previews is to provide a glimpse into the top contenders, rising stars, and dark horses that are poised to make a mark this season. From Section 1A to Section 8A, the talent pool is deep, and the battles for section supremacy and state tournament berths promise to be fierce.

Section 1A

The Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights and the Chatfield Gophers are the frontrunners in Section 1A, while the Dover-Eyota Eagles and the GMLOS Bulldogs are considered dark horses.

The section boasts sixteen returning state qualifiers, including seven state medalists. State champions Kail Schott and Javier Berg from Chatfield are back, along with medalists Gage Bartels (6th) and Bolton Thesing (4th) from Dover-Eyota, and Will VanEpps (5th) and Gavin Johnson (3rd) from Kenyon-Wanamingo.

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High School Class AA Preview

Class AA: A Bright New Day

A competitive high school wrestling season looms on the horizon in Minnesota for Class AA. Heavy graduation losses accompanied by an exodus of talent to Class AAA opens up both the team and individual races to the state tournament in March. This season will also see an adjustment in weight classes as we drop to thirteen weights. They will start at 107 pounds. The top four weight classes have been consolidated into three, with a jump from 172 directly to 189, virtually eliminating the old 182-pound class.

Simley is the defending state champion after beating New Prague by a 46-20 score in last year’s final. It was the Spartans’ fifth straight state title. This year, they return three state placewinners and are the early favorite to win a seventeenth overall Class AA team title this season.

Individually, six returning state champions take the mat this year. However, only three of those champions will defend their Class AA titles, while three others will move to Class AAA. Jack Nelson, a senior from Mound-Westonka, returns as a three-time champion. Nelson has the opportunity to become the state’s thirty-third four-time champion. The last Class AA wrestler to win four state titles was Tyler Wells from Princeton. He won his fourth title last season. The first four-time champion from a current Class AA school was Marcus LeVesseur from Minneapolis Roosevelt, who won titles from 1998 to 2001.

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High School Class AAA Preview

With one of the most exciting championship finishes in State Tournament history last season, this season’s class AAA race looks to be one of the deepest in a long time. It will be hard to beat Hastings’s dramatic twenty-four-point comeback, but the depth of the teams this year may bring even more excitement to the X.

Section 1

With the addition of Albert Lea, Section One is even deeper than last year, with five teams capable of winning this section. The Tigers return four AA state entrants, three of them placewinners. Senior Michael Olson will try to improve on his second-place finish at 113 last season. Junior Logan Davis (3rd at 120), Nick Korman (5th at 132), and freshman Ryan Collins (106) will be the leaders on a strong Albert Lea team. Rochester Mayo and Owatonna are the two most experienced teams.

Mayo, who punched their first ticket to state last season, return six state entrants led by junior fifth-place finisher Calder Sheehan (145). Junior Juan Cobarruvais (113), senior Ethan Peper (220), freshman Kellen Burger (132), freshman Caleb Loomis (285), and eighth grader Andrew Trimble (106) also competed at state. Owatonna graduated state runner-up Cael Robb but still return seven state entrants.

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High School Class AAA Preview

Section 1 

Four teams will contend for the title in Section 1 this season. Northfield will be defending their third-place state finish and section championship, with seven returning state entrants. Senior Jayce Barron (152) leads the returning entrants, and he will have a strong sophomore class to back him up this season. Sophomores Keith Harner (113), Logan Williams (120), Owen Murphy (160), and Ryan Kuyper (182) were all state entrants last season, along with freshman Jackson Barron (132) and eighth grader Caden Staab (106).

Faribault, with new co-head coaches Jacob Staloch and Jesse Armbruster, will be a very strong challenger for Northfield. The Falcons return four state entrants in senior Gabriel Shatskikh (220), junior JT Hausen (3rd at 120), junior Isaac Yetzer (145), and sophomore Bo Bokman (126).

Rochester Mayo and Owatonna are two other teams capable of taking the team section title. Mayo returns freshman Juan Cobarruvias (106), sophomore Calder Sheehan (138), senior Dylan Peper (182), and junior Ethan Peper (285). The third-place finisher, senior Cael Robb (132), will head the Owatonna title hunt along with sophomore Lane Karsten (113).

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High School Class AA Preview

Class AA: Chasing Down the Champs

The target is on Simley again this year. The Spartans are the defending state champion after defeating Kasson-Mantorville by a 47-21 score in the state final match at the Xcel Energy Center last season, and it was the Spartans’ fourth straight state title. Overall, Simley returns six state placewinners this year and opens the season as heavy favorites to repeat as state champions in St. Paul this March.

Individually, seven state champions take to the mat again this year. Six of those champions will be defending their Class AA titles, while one defends her girls’ title from last March. Tyler Wells, a senior from Princeton, returns as a three-time champion. Wells has the opportunity to become the 30th four-time state champion in Minnesota state wrestling history. The last Class AA wrestler to win that many state titles was Bennett Berge of Kasson-Mantorville, who won his fifth individual title for the KoMets last season. The state’s first four-time champion was Jim Van Gorden from Minneapolis Marshall in 1940. The first four-time champion from a current Class AA school was John Miller from Renville-Sacred Heart – part of the current Quad County coop – in 1985.

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High School Class A Preview

Section 1A

Favorites: Dover-Eyota Eagles and Chatfield Gophers
Dark Horses: Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights and the Goodhue Wildcats

Dover-Eyota Eagles
Head Coach: Brain Lehnertz
Three Rivers Conference: 6-1 | Overall: 20-10
The Eagles defeated Goodhue 45-30, GMLOS 64-11, and Chatfield 33-30 in the Section 1A championship. The Eagles defeated Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the state quarterfinals 30-26. In the semifinals, they were defeated by Royalton-Upsala 34-33 and West Central Area 35-31 for third. The Eagles had twelve section placewinners last year and two state medal winners. They will have back nine of their section placewinners, including three state placewinners and three state qualifiers. They graduated three seniors, including a pair of state qualifiers. They should be in a real dogfight for the top spot in Section 1 with Chatfield. They will have seven back with 20-plus wins. Their leaders should include Gavin Gust (40-1), Bolton Thesing (39-13), Brody Kellen (38-8), Aidan Gasper (32-20), Jackson Duellman (28-7), Landon Lehnertz (26-15), and Damon Bye (26-16).

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