Trysten Ross’ journey ended with a medal.
Justin Jenks’ medal may just be the beginning of his.
Both Little Falls wrestlers had challenging journeys to get there, but both became state place winners at the Class AAA state individual tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Feb. 28 – March 1.
Ross, who had to avenge a regular season loss and defeat the seventh-ranked wrestler just to qualify for state, opened the tournament with a bang, sticking 28-3 Tartan senior Jake Paulson for a fall midway through the second period.
Ross’ reward was a showdown with unbeaten Blaine senior Caleb Butler in the quarterfinals.
Butler knocked Ross into the consolation bracket, leaving him needing two wins to place.
Ross pinned Spring Lake Park-St. Anthony Village junior Tristan Wehmas in just 1:25, then came up with an even faster fall in 1:09 over Rochester John Marshall junior Kenny Maclin to clinch a spot on the medal stand.
After falling 12-4 to third-place winner Kyle Chromy of Cambridge-Isanti in the consolation semifinals, Ross won one of the highest scoring matches of the tournament in his fifth-place bout, topping Buffalo-West Lutheran sophomore Adam Treptau 18-12.
“Trysten had an awesome tournament at 4-2,” Little Falls head coach Mike Hendrickson said. “I was very happy and proud of his efforts. It is pretty cool to go out as a winner by winning your last match.
“His last match was wild,” he said. “We got a huge early lead, then the 10th-grader from Buffalo decided to fight back. Trysten was able to fend off his charge and seal the match.”
No wrestler in Little Falls history has ever been a three-time state place winner.
Jenks, just a sophomore, is now on track to accomplish just that.
After a shaky start to the tournament resulted in him falling 15-0 to Prior Lake senior Blake Carlisle in the first round, Jenks answered with a big performance in the consolation bracket.
Jenks pinned Rocori freshman Nick Warne in 1:24 to remain alive, then edged Rogers senior Connor Larson in a hard-fought 2-1 match to clinch a top-six finish.
Jenks was shut out 10-0 by Woodbury junior Ben Donnelly in the consolation finals, before Carlisle edged him again 12-4 in the fifth-place bout, withstanding a late reversal to the back by Jenks.
“Justin wrestled great,” Hendrickson said. “When you can place as a sophomore you are a pretty special wrestler. The hard part is trying to get a repeat medal during the next two years. Little Falls has never had a three-time place winner. Justin is just ornery enough to be that guy.
“I’m always satisfied to bring home medals,” he said. “It seems to get tougher to do every year.”
Seniors Tyler Gastecki (170) and Tom Tabatt (285) and freshman Josh Beack (126) also competed in the state tournament for the Flyers.
“I feel bad for our seniors, Gastecki especially,” Hendrickson said. “He has had a great career and unfortunately, it did not end the way he wanted.
“Logan (Kapphahn) and Beacker (Josh Beack) will be back I hope,” he said. “We ended the state meet as we did the section meet with a win. Nice finish for us.”