Lange sticks his place in state history

Lange-1.6A lot can keep a wrestler from winning 200 matches.

Not being big enough to start right away as a middle schooler.

Being caught behind older teammates in the lineup.

Extended absences due to injury or illness.

Or, you know, they could just not be good enough to win virtually every time they step on a mat.

Royalton-Upsala senior Mitch Lange was able to avoid any of those pitfalls, while turning in plenty of pins and falls in his decorated career that came to a close this winter.

He ended with a career record of 204-38, with his final win giving him a long sought-after state title at 160 pounds in Class A.

Lange won 7-2 in the first round of this year’s state tournament, defeating Pine Island senior Sam McPhail, who entered with only one previous defeat on the season.

Lange followed that up with a dominating 16-1 technical fall in the quarterfinals over, assuring him a place on the medal stand for the second time.

He was far from finished, though, topping previously unbeaten and top-ranked Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg junior Zachary Carlson 10-7 in the semifinals to reach the championship.

There, Lange built an early 7-2 lead, then held off a late charge by St. Charles senior Andrew Dayland to record a 10-8 win, and with it the state title.

Lange closed his senior season with a record of 40-2, with his only two defeats coming in a fourth-place finish at the 69-team Rumble on the Red in Fargo, N.D., in late December to a pair of Class AAA foes.

Of his 40 wins, 31 came with bonus points, including 16 pins, eight forfeits, four technical falls and three major decisions.


Lange through the years

Lange was no stranger to the big stage of the state tournament heading into this year, qualifying each of the previous four seasons.

After putting together a 22-15 record as a seventh-grader, Lange went to state as a 33-8 eighth-grader at 125 and as a 31-6 freshman at 140.

However, after being outscored 22-0 in two matches those two years, Lange broke through with his first two wins at state as a 36-4 sophomore at 160, then rallied back from a defeat in the quarterfinals to take fourth place at 160 as a 42-3 junior.

Lange never found the path to the top easy, running into future runners-up his first two seasons, a pair of eventual state champions as a sophomore and a two-time champ as a junior, until it was finally his turn this March.

Only 75 other wrestlers in Minnesota history had reached 200 career wins prior to the start of this season.