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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Pin To Win – Ryder Rogotzke

By Brian Jerzak

During the 2021-22 wrestling season, Stillwater senior Ryder Rogotzke had one of the most dominant seasons a wrestler can have. He lost just one match all season and won his first state championship. In doing so, he pinned his way through the state tournament. During the season, Rogotzke only went the full six minutes twice. He finished with 44 falls – tying the state record for most pins in a season.

"Instead of teaching me how to win, my dad taught me how to pin," Rogotzke said. "That is the easiest way to win. You can be down by ten. If you get the pin, you win. My mentality of pinning everyone was there in the first year. I would go for headlocks, three-quarters, cow catchers, and no one really knew pinning defense. There is not as much strength when you are little. That got me through to now."

Rogotzke found enjoyment and success in two sports as a kid.

"I remember trying t-ball, football, and wrestling," Rogotzke said. "Football and wrestling stuck."

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Lineup Battles Loom For Golden Gophers

University of Minnesota has more depth than they’ve had in a long time

By Matt Krumrie

The Minnesota Gophers head into the 2022-2023 season with talent, experience, and question marks.

It’s a unique mix but should make for a fun and exciting season of Gophers wrestling.

The team has depth, talent, and experience, led by returning All-Americans Patrick McKee (125), Jake Bergeland (141), and Brayton Lee (157). They have experience most college teams would covet, with eight other wrestlers previously qualifying for the NCAA championships. Those eight include Jake Gliva (133), Marcos Polanco (141), Michael Blockhus (149), Cael Carlson (165), Andrew Sparks (165), Bailee O’Reilly (174), Isaiah Salazar (184), Michial Foy (197).

Combined with the returning All-Americans, the Gophers feature a roster with 11 wrestlers who have competed in the biggest tournament in the sport of college wrestling - the NCAA Division I championships.

But they also have question marks at several weights. One of which is, who will emerge at 285 replacing Gable Steveson? Steveson was a man on a mission throughout his Gophers career, ending his career on a 52-match winning streak on his way to three straight undefeated seasons and two consecutive NCAA titles. Steveson, an Olympic Gold medalist, was also a two-time Dan Hodge trophy winner, given annually to the top wrestler in college wrestling.

What’s interesting is that even though the Gophers have question marks, the Gophers lineup includes multiple wrestlers at many weights who can all start and make an impact - because they already have proven to do that.

“One of the things I’m excited about this season is that we have more depth than we’ve had in a long time,” said head coach Brandon Eggum, now in his seventh season as head coach of the Golden Gophers. “You know it’s the nature of the beast that it’s a real physical sport and you’re going to deal with hiccups throughout the season so it’s really important for us to have that depth. I expect to see some guys battling for some spots.”

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Auggies Eye A Return To The Top

All ten spots will have competition at Augsburg University

By Matt Krumrie

Year after year, the Augsburg men’s wrestling team sets the bar as high as any team in Division III wrestling. One of the elite wrestling programs in all of college wrestling, the Auggies consistently finish among the top teams in the country.

Look for that track record of success to continue this season.

The Auggies return a core group of nine wrestlers, including three All-Americans, three returning national qualifiers and three experienced starters who had successful seasons but fell short of their year-end goals.

That has head coach Tony Valek looking forward to leading another season of Augsburg wrestling.

“We are still relatively young, but no longer inexperienced,” Said Valek. “Last season, Solomon Nielsen was the only returner with NCAA tournament experience and while Solomon has graduated and moved to the coaching staff, six returners competed at the NCAA tournament, and nine experienced the Upper Midwest Region national qualifier.”

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Mavericks Are Hard-Working And Talented

Minnesota State University Mankato returns a national champion to their lineup

By Matt Krumrie

Jim Makovsky enters his 30th season as head coach of the Minnesota State University Mankato wrestling team excited about the 2022-2023 season, even if the team’s path to success - or the individuals who will lead the way - isn’t quite clear - yet.

“To sum it up in one word in October - blurry,” said Makovsky, describing how the future looks for the Mavericks early in the season.

But he also knows there is talent, and in time, he will know who will emerge from a strong group of returning wrestlers and talented newcomers excited to help showcase their talents during another season of Mavericks wrestling.

“We have a lot of competition in the room and returners that have stepped it up,” said Makovsky. “We’ll see where we are at come January. And that’s exciting.”

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