Wrestling: Little Falls’ Ross captures title at Paul Bunyan tourney, Pierz places third

Trysten Ross is pretty strong.

That much is obvious.

What is also becoming obvious is the fact that Ross is fast becoming one of the top upperweight wrestlers in the area, maybe the state.

That much was demonstrated by his run to the 220-pound title at the 16-team Paul Bunyan tournament in Brainerd, Dec. 13 – 14, one of two area wrestlers to claim individual championships, along with Royalton-Upsala senior Mitch Lange at 170.

The level of pure strength possessed by Ross, already a formidable weapon on its own, has become fearsome when mixed with an expanding level of technical skill.

“Trysten is dangerously strong,” Little Falls head coach Mike Hendrickson said. “He is also very explosive. This, combined with his natural athleticism, make him very a tough wrestler. His skills have improved a lot since his freshman and sophomore years.”

Ross simply overwhelmed the rest of his bracket in the tournament, advancing to the finals with a pin, default and 9-6 decision before pinning Foley’s seventh-ranked senior Mitch Keeler in just 39 seconds in the championship.

“Saturday’s final match was the first time in awhile he looked very relaxed out on the mat,” Hendrickson said. “Previously, he seemed to be wound pretty tight and then using a lot of strength. He has a lot of moves to draw from. When he sticks to those, he seems to fare better. He seems to be figuring this out this early season. I look for great things from him this season.”

While Ross makes sure to take full advantage of his strength, a key asset, he’s also careful not to rely on it.

“Obviously it’s a huge asset to how I wrestle, but you don’t get anywhere without technique,” Ross said. “I try not to rely on it too much. You can get away with a lot of stuff you shouldn’t most of the time so it’s nice in that sense. It really wears on you though when you strictly rely on muscle, so it could also be my biggest downfall as well.”

Ross remained unbeaten with his romp through the tournament, improving to 9-0 on the season, a start even he is somewhat surprised about.

“In a sense yes, but it’s what’s expected of me right now so I’m just answering the call I guess,” Ross said. “There hasn’t been much for tough competition so far this early in the season, but every time there has been I’ve come out on top.

“I have high expectations for myself this year just like any other,” he said. “Losing really isn’t an option. I was surprised with my finish at Brainerd though – I didn’t think I would it would be that easy. Hopefully I can keep the wins coming like that.”

The Flyers ended up in fourth place as a team, finishing with 10 placewinners.

Junior Logan Kapphahn knocked off the top seed to take second at 120 and junior Axel Lange took third at 152.

Other placewinners for the Flyers included freshman Josh Beack in fourth, senior Tyler Gastecki and sophomore Justin Jenks in fifth and senior Dan Mushel, sophomore Trevin Larson, freshman Lane Rutten and eighth-grader A.J. Jenks took eighth.

Pierz had the highest team finish out of the area participants, with runner-up finishes from senior Jordon Goebel and freshman Brandon Ortman leading the Pioneers to third behind Class A’s fourth-ranked Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Class AA’s top-ranked Foley.

Seniors Brandon Sullivan and Chris Ortman and sophomore Kolton Eischens earned third, senior Curtis Brisk and freshman Brett Kapsner took fourth, senior Ryley Smude placed fifth and freshman Matt Kummet placed seventh.

Royalton-Upsala placed 13th as a team, highlighted by its pair of finalists.

Lange captured the title at 170 with ease, registering a pin, a technical fall and two major decisions, while sophomore Brad Kroll was the runner-up at 160.