Wrestling State Tournament: Advance Release
Posted: Monday, February 27, 2023 - 7:52 AM
Familiar schools with deep roots of success headline the Minnesota State High School League’s Wrestling State Tournament that takes place this week at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. The team tournament in three enrollment classes is scheduled for Thursday, March 2, and two days of an individual tournament will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, respectively.
A season following the debut of Girls Wrestling, an expanded format is in place to meet the growing participation. This year’s state tournament format features eight qualifiers in each of the 12 weight divisions. Eight champions from the inaugural season return.
Here is a sneak-peek at this week’s state tournament:
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Class A quarterfinals, 9 a.m.
- United North Central vs. No. 2 Caledonia/Houston
- Medford vs. No. 3 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
- West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville vs. No. 1 Jackson County Central
- No. 5 Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted vs. No. 4 Royalton/Upsala
- Jackson County Central is the top seed and favored to win its ninth state crown since 2008. The Huskies won the Class A crown in 2022, winning each of their three matches by at least double-digit margins. Caledonia/Houston won the Section 1A in thrilling fashion behind heavyweight Grant Nelson in a dual win over Chatfield. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa returns for the third consecutive season. They were the No. 3 seed in Section 5A. Royalton/Upsala was the Class A runner-up to Jackson County Central last season. Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted is making its state tournament debut. Medford, the Class A co-championhip in 2002 with Frazee, returns as a team for the first time since 2009. West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville placed third in 2022. United North Central rallied for a 31-24 victory over top-seeded Frazee in the Section 8 championship.
Class AA quarterfinals, 11 a.m.
- Mora vs. No. 2 New Prague
- Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle-Montevideo United vs. No. 3 Kasson-Mantorville
- Totino-Grace vs. No. 1 Simley
- No. 5 Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus vs. No. 4 Becker
- Simley is expected to remain the king of Class AA. The Spartans are the top seed and favored to win the team crown for the fifth consecutive year and 16th time overall. In three section duals, the Spartans surrendered just three points. New Prague, the No. 2 seed, rallied from an early deficit to post a 37-32 victory over Watertown-Mayer in the Section 2AA championship dual. Kasson-Mantorville, a longtime power from southeast Minnesota, won the Section 1AA crown for the second consecutive year. The KoMets were the runner-up to Simley in 2022. Becker needed victories in the final three weights to top St. Francis is the Section 6AA final. Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus secured a return trip to the state tournament behind a pin from Trey Tuchtenhagen at 182 pounds to defeat Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton. Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ nickname is the Road Crew. Totino-Grace is representing Section 5AA for the 10th time since 2013. Mora returns for the second consecutive season and fifth overall. Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle-Montevideo United is a new wrestling co-op representing Section 3AA.
Class AAA quarterfinals, 9 a.m.
- Rochester Mayo vs. No. 2 Waconia
- Willmar vs. No. 3 Hastings
- Anoka vs. No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville
- No. 5 Apple Valley vs. No. 4 Stillwater Area
- St. Michael-Albertville, the defending big-school champion, has had a headlock on the top ranking all season and that hasn’t changed going into the state tournament. The Knights are seeking their third Class AAA crown since 2018 and 10th overall. Waconia is anchored by Max McEnelly, who has committed to wrestle at the University of Minnesota. Waconia is making its fourth state tournament appearance since 2019. Hastings, a sixth-place finisher in 2002, returns for the fourth consecutive season. Stillwater Area was the big-school runner-up in 2019, 2020 and 2022, respectively. Apple Valley’s dominance at the state tournament level is legendary. The Eagles were last a Class AAA champion in 2017. Anoka was the No. 3 seed in Section 7AAA, but upset top-seeded Forest Lake in the final for a return trip. Willmar needed a pin from junior heavyweight Danute Castellano to secure a 33-25 victory over Bemidji in the Section 8AA final for the Cardinals’ ninth state tournament trip in 11 years. Rochester Mayo is making program history with its debut trip. That came following a 37-20 win over Faribault in the Section 1AAA championship.
Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4
Girls wrestling made its debut during the 2021-22 season, culminating with the first dozen state champions crowned. Interest has continued to blossom, which created an expansion of state qualify entrants from four in 2022 to eight in each bracket this season. Each of the eight champions that returned this season qualified for an opportunity to win a second consecutive crown. Here are those wrestlers with their weight divisions this season:
- Charli Raymond, Simley, 107
- Aspen Blasko, Forest Lake, 114
- Audrey Rogotzke, Stillwater, 120
- Joel Maken, Shakopee 132
- Skylar Little Soldier, Hastings, 145
- Riley Myers, Eastview, 145
- Grace Alagbo, Apple Valley, 152
- Ella Pagel, Northfield, 165
The best championship match is projected to be between Little Soldier and Myers. Little Soldier was the champion last season at 132 pounds and Myers won the title at 138.
- Benson senior 195-pounder Thomas Dineen is on a 130-match winning streak.
- Woodbury senior 138-pounder Alex Braun recorded his 200th career victory during the section final.
- Marshall junior 132-pounder Dylan Louwagie notched his 200th career win during the section final.
- Freshman 120-pounder Trey Gunderson of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg is 51-0 this season. He was the 106-pound champion in 2022.
- New Prague senior 145-pounder Koy Buesgens is 99-1 over the past two seasons. He was the 138-pound champion last year and is 50-0 entering the state tournament.
- Simley senior Gavin Nelson, who helped power the Spartans to the Class AAAAA football championship in the fall, is 46-0 this season at 220 pounds. He has signed to wrestle at the University of Minnesota.
- A second consecutive Beissel from Hastings could emerge as the Class AAA 106-pound champion this season. In 2022, Blake Beissel, a sophomore, claimed the crown. A year later, Trey Beissel, a freshman, is 47-1 at 106. Blake is 48-1 this season at 113.
- St. Michael-Albertville sophomore 132-pounder Landon Robideau is 42-0 this season. He was the Class AAA champion at 126 last year, finishing with a 46-1 mark.