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Wresting State Tournament brings blend of tradition, something new

Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2022 - 7:33 AM

This week’s Minnesota State High School League Wrestling State Tournament has plenty of tradition while introducing something new.

Familiar schools with deep roots of wrestling success headline the team tournaments in three enrollment classes while Minnesota will also debut a girls division within the tournament format. The three days of wrestling begin on Thursday, March 3 at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. Three team champions will be crowned on Day 1 of the state tournament and individuals will follow on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Minnesota is one of 32 states to offer girls wrestling. Four semifinalists in 12 weight classes will become Minnesota high school pioneers in the sport when they take the mat on Saturday. The semifinal matches are during Session Five and championships will be during Session Six.

Here is a sneak-peek at the state tournament:

Class A

·       Jackson County Central earned the top seed in the small-enrollment class. The Huskies hold the edge on No. 2 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on the strength of a 48-19 vicotry in the regular season finale. Jackson County Central’s only three losses came during the Clash Duals. The Huskies’ only loss to a Minnesota school is to St. Michael-Albertville, the top seed in the Class AAA field. Jackson County Central is looking for its seventh state championship and first since 2013. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s only loss was to Jackson County Central. No. 4 Kimball Area is the defending Class A champion.

Thursday, March 3, 11 a.m.


o   Dover-Eyota (18-8) vs. No. 2 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (19-1)

o   United North Central (18-5) vs. No. 3 Royalton/Upsala (23-1)

o   Maple River/USC (23-4) vs. No. 1 Jackson County Central (21-3)

o   No. 5 West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville (23-4) vs. No. 4 Kimball Area (20-6)

Individual highlights

Jackson County Central sophomore Nolan Ambrose is 45-0 in the 113-pound bracket. He was the Class A champion at 106 in 2021. Sibley East senior Drayden Morton is on a 78-match winning streak entering the state tournament. He was 33-0 in winning the 132-pound crown in 2021 and is 45-0 this season at 145. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa senior Blaine Fischer is 40-1 at 152 this season. A year ago, he won at 145.

 Class AA

·       Inver Grove Heights-based Simley is in a familiar place as the top seed. The Spartans are chasing their fourth consecutive Class AA crown and 15th title overall. Simley’s only loss this season was to Southeast Polk, an Iowa school, on Jan. 6. Simley head coach Will Short, in his 25th season, has a 626-109 record. Kasson-Mantorville, which has dueled Simley for Class AA supremacy the past handful of years, is the No. 2 seed. The KoMets’ only loss this season is to Stillwater, the No. 2 seed in the big-school field. Becker is undefeated and earned the No. 3 seed.

Thursday, March 3, 9 a.m.


o   Mora (24-6) vs. No. 2 Kasson-Mantorville (26-1)

o   Thief River Falls (20-5) vs. No. 3 Becker (18-0)

o   Totino-Grace (17-3) vs. No. 1 Simley (25-1)

o   No. 5 Fairmont/Martin County West (23-1) vs. No. 4 Watertown-Mayer (22-3)

Individual highlights

Kasson-Mantorville senior Bennett Berge steps up to the 195-pound class this season. In 2021, he was the 182-pound champion and finished with a 29-0 record. A year later, he is 45-0 at 195 and favored again. Simley senior Gavin Nelson returns to defend his championship at 220 pounds. He was 34-0 last season and is 47-2 entering this week’s event. Foley senior heavyweight Elijah Novak is 45-0 and favored to win his division.

Class AAA

·       St. Michael-Albertville is favored to win the big-school championship for the first time since 2018. Since 2010, the Knights have been the Class AAA runner-up six times, including last season when the state tournament was held in its own gym. Before moving up an enrollment class, St. Michael-Albertville was a Class AA power with five championships. St. Michael-Albertville opens the quarterfinals against Apple Valley, Minnesota’s most dominant wrestling program. The Eagles stood in the way of many of St. Michael-Albertville’s state championship attempts. Stillwater is the No. 2 seed. The Ponies have two losses, one to St. Michael-Albertville and the other to Simley. Shakopee, the three-time defending Class AAA champion is the No. 3 seed.

Thursday, March 3, 9 a.m.


o   Willmar (26-7) vs. No. 2 Stillwater Area (28-2)

o   Northfield (26-3) vs. No. 3 Shakopee (33-4)

o   Apple Valley (19-6) vs. No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville (21-0)

o   No. 5 Anoka (28-4) vs. No. 4 Hastings (30-2)

Individual highlights

Prior Lake junior Alan Koehler, the 106-pound champion in 2021, climbs two weight classes this season. He is 39-1 at 120. Lakeville North senior Jore Volk also jumps two weights to 132 where he is 26-1. In 2021, he won at 120. Stillwater Area senior Hunter Lyden is the defending champion at 170. He is 46-0 this season after winning the crown with a 15-0 mark in 2021. Waconia junior Max McEnelly was the 182-pound champion in 2021 with a 40-0 record. A year later, he is 43-0 and favored to win at 195. Osseo senior Jacob Meissner has qualified to defend his 220-pound title. He is 36-2.


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