Area wrestling: 20 area wrestlers qualify for individual state tournament
Area wrestling action from Feb. 22 – 23:
Section 8AAA tournament:
Little Falls turned 11 semifinalists into four state qualifiers at the Section 8AAA individual wrestling tournament in Brainerd, Feb. 22 – 23.
Seniors Connor Scherping, Joe Reis and Conor Swanson and junior Tyler Gastecki finished as runners-up in their respective weight classes to earn a trip to state.
Scherping reached the finals at 138 pounds with ease, recording first-period falls over Alexandria sophomore Jacob Neinaber and Sartell-St. Stephen junior Zachary Motschke, taking second place behind three-time state champion St. Cloud Apollo senior Mitch Bengtson.
Reis also picked up a pair of falls to reach the finals, delivering third-period pins over St. Cloud Tech junior Justin Kilanowski and Moorhead senior Skyler Berry at 182.
Swanson earned a fall 52 seconds into his quarterfinal bout against Alexandria eighth-grader Dan Oberg at 285, followed with a 6-3 decision over Bemidji senior Alex Johnson to reach the finals and advance.
Gastecki advanced past the quarterfinals with a 6-2 decision over Moorhead eighth-grader Samuel Grove, then pinned St. Cloud Tech junior Joseph Reed with four seconds remaining in his semifinal match.
After falling in the first-place bout, Gastecki bounced back for a quick pin over Alexandria sophomore Mike Schluter to secure a trip to state at 170.
Senior Jordan Petrone, sophomore Logan Kapphahn and eighth-grader Josh Beack took third place in the tournament, junior Derek McMahan, sophomore Axel Lange and freshman Justin Jenks placed fourth, senior Keith Yorek and junior Trysten Ross earned fifth and seventh-grader A.J. Jenks placed sixth.
Section 7A tournament:
Pierz and Holdingford each advanced seven individuals to the state wrestling tournament, while Royalton-Upsala also qualified two at the Section 7A individual tournament in Crosby-Ironton, Feb. 22 – 23.
Senior Brad Meyer and juniors Brandon Sullivan and Chris Ortman each won their weight classes to advance for Pierz, with senior Travis Johnson and juniors Evan Woitalla, Ryley Smude and Curtis Brisk qualifying with runner-up finishes.
Meyer earned a first-period fall in the semifinals at 152 pounds, then picked up a 1-0 decision in the finals.
Sullivan followed up a pin with 7-5 and 8-3 decisions to take the title at 120 and Ortman recorded a pin, technical fall and 8-5 win to claim first at 126.
Johnson picked up two pins to reach the finals at 195, as did Brisk at 285.
Smude fought his way to a 3-2 overtime victory in the semifinals at 220 after a fall in the quarterfinals to move on, while Woitalla battled his way back to a true-second place finish to qualify at 132.
Holdingford also qualified seven individuals, led by a trio of champions, senior Trevor Scott (145), junior Jordan Gombos (170) and sophomore Zach Scott (113).
Qualifying with second-place performances were senior Kyle Kolstad (160), juniors Kyle Gerads (152) and Mitch Messman (195) and freshman Clem Gerads (120).
Senior Cory Wensmann and junior Mitch Lange both took first place to lead Royalton-Upsala.
Wensmann took first at 220 with a pair of pins and a 5-2 decision, while Lange earned first at 160 with a first-period fall and a 12-4 major decision.
The state individual tournament is scheduled to take place March 1 – 2 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.