Holdingford made the most of its two qualifiers in the state individual tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Feb. 28 – March 1, with each capturing a medal.
Junior Zach Scott took sixth place at 126 pounds in Class A, while junior Nathan Brinker also took sixth place at 182.
“Zach and Nathan both wrestled very well overall to accomplish their goal of placing at state,” Holdingford head coach Jeremiah Kramer said. “The good news is these guys are both juniors and if they put the work in, they both can place even higher next year.”
Scott opened the tournament with a key 3-2 win over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg senior Cody Peters, who had defeated Scott less than a month earlier.
That put Scott in the quarterfinals, where he built an early lead, but saw Jackson County Central senior Jordan Biehn rally for an 8-7 win.
“The quarterfinal loss was a tough one to swallow for Zach,” Kramer said. “He had a lead and got the first two takedowns, but things just didn’t work out in the end.”
Still, Scott was in good position to place, making the most of his opportunity with an 8-3 decision over Badger/Greenbush-Middle River sophomore Nicholas Kaml, followed by a 12-2 major decision over Staples Motley freshman Alex Erpelding.
“After that (quarterfinal) loss I looked at his bracket and I knew that he would place, it was just a matter of how high,” Kramer said. “He came out and pretty much dominated the next two wrestlers to ensure a placement. After that it came down to four guys very close in talent and Zach just couldn’t pull out the wins.”
Pierz senior Chris Ortman edged Scott 4-3 in the consolation semifinals, then Biehn won 5-1 in the pair’s second match-up for fifth place.
“Zach could’ve easily been in the third-place match because he has beaten Chris Ortman before, but these wrestlers are so close in talent that someone had to lose and it wasn’t Zach’s day.”
At 182, Brinker’s season of improvement was rewarded in a big way with a trip to the state semifinals, culminated with a sixth-place finish.
“Nathan has progressed more in one season than I have ever seen any other wrestler progress,” Kramer said. “His development is due to his desire and ability to learn very quickly.
“Assistant coach Scot Storm has had a lot to do with Nathan’s success,” he said. “They have worked very closely all year and the results make it obvious how much Scot has helped.”
Brinker got off to a strong start, guaranteeing a top-six finish by reaching the semifinals via a 7-2 decision over Zumbrota-Mazeppa senior Hunter Prodzinski, followed by a 3-2 victory over Canby senior Christian Full.
Brinker dropped his next three matches, getting caught on his back in the fifth-place bout, but getting a pair of placers was considered a vast success by Kramer.
“It is a great feeling having two individuals place at state,” Kramer said. “The goal to start the year was three placers, and that would’ve been a first in Holdingford, but I will take two placers any day of the week.”