By PATRICK SLACK
Royalton-Upsala junior Mitch Lange and Holdingford senior Trevor Scott each earned fourth place to lead 20 area qualifiers at the state individual wrestling tournament held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, March 1 – 2.
Wrestling with a heavily braced knee, Lange opened the tournament with a 12-1 major decision over Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena/Indus junior Daven Staples.
That set up a rematch with undefeated and defending state champion Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther senior Adam Cooling in the quarterfinals.
Cooling had dealt Lange his only defeat entering state and managed to prevail again by one point, making a third-period takedown stand up for a 3-2 victory.
Lange rallied all the way back through the consolation bracket with three consecutive decisions, finishing in fourth place.
Scott followed the same path at Lange, winning three matches in a row after reaching the quarterfinals en route to taking fourth place, earning a pin and major decision along the way.
Pierz sent seven of its 14 wrestlers on to state individually, with all seven advancing beyond the first session.
Juniors Brandon Sullivan and Chris Ortman each won twice for the Pioneers, with Ortman narrowly missing placing with a 6-5 defeat in the quarterfinals and a 5-4 defeat in four overtimes in the consolation quarterfinals.
Senior Brad Meyer won his opening match at 152 before falling to the eventual champion and fourth-place finisher, while junior Ryley Smude also won one match with his only defeats coming versus two top-three placers.
Juniors Evan Woitalla and Curtis Brisk each came away with a win as well and senior Travis Johnson qualified at 195.
Pierz finished the season with a dual record of 28-5.
Seniors on this year’s team included Meyer, Lochner, Johnson, Josh Lanners and Cody Weiss.
Little Falls results
Little Falls came close in multiple matches but couldn’t come away with a win from its four state qualifiers in Class AAA action.
Senior Conor Swanson was eliminated at 285 after dropping a narrow 3-2 bout to Prior Lake junior Luis Pinto, who proceeded to fall to the eventual state champion.
Senior Connor Scherping was also dealt a difficult draw at 138, matching up against the second and third-ranked wrestlers in his weight class in his two matches.
Senior Joe Reis scored the final six points as he almost earned a pin in his wrestleback at 182 before running out of time, while junior Tyler Gastecki was knocked off by a pair of placewinners at 170.
Little Falls finished the season with a dual record of 24-7.
Seniors on this year’s team included Gregory Ross, Scherping, Jordan Petrone, Keith Yorek, Reis, Tyler Webb, David Copa and Swanson.
Also joining Lange at state from Royalton-Upsala was senior Cory Wensmann at 220.
Wensmann edged Pine Island junior Zach Kennedy 4-3 in the opening round before dropping a pair of bouts to eventual placers.
Royalton-Upsala finished with a dual record of 8-13.
Seniors on this year’s team included Tyler Hegna, Jack Fulford and Wensmann.
Holdingford had six other wrestlers competing in addition to Trevor Scott, with a trio nearly joining him on the medal stand.
Juniors Jordan Gombos and Mitch Messman and sophomore Zach Scott each won two matches, with Messman’s only two defeats coming in overtime.
Freshman Clem Gerads also won a match, with senior Kyle Kolstad and junior Kyle Gerads also qualifying.
Holdingford finished with a dual record of 26-3.
Seniors on this year’s team included Jason Jarnot, Trevor Scott, Kyle Kolstad and Bryan Scepaniak.