ST. PAUL - Minneota's Josh VanOverbeke knew that in order to become a state champion, he would have to ride it out against a powerhouse in Wabasso/Red Rock Central's Cody Welch.
In the Section 3A individual championships, VanOverbeke edged Welch in a 3-2 decision to win the section title at 220 pounds. And on Saturday, VanOverbeke and Welch were back on the mat against each other with a state championship on the line.
Both wrestlers had their own mindsets on how to win: Welch wanted to stay upright, while VanOverbeke wanted to work the ground game.
Minneota senior Josh VanOverbeke raises his hand to the crowd after winning the Class A 220-pound championship match in a 6-0 decision over Wabasso/Red Rock Central's Cody Welch on Saturday in St. Paul.
"That was the game plan to ride him out this time instead of having to have it come down to the last few seconds or overtime," VanOverbeke said. "That would play into his hands."
After a scoreless first period, VanOverbeke got his legs around Welch and never relented, getting two three-point near falls in the second period, and grounded Welch to get the 6-0 decision and claim the Class A 220-pound title at the state wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Saturday.
"The first time we wrestled him in the section, Cody knew Josh would stay grounded and he exploded off the bottom and we lost that option," said Vikings head coach Joel Skillings. "This time, we knew we had to get to that quicker and Josh did get there this time."
220-Josh VanOverbeke (Minneota) dec. Cody Welch (Wabasso/RRC), 6-0; Jacob Anderson (River Valley) maj. dec. Theodore Bueltel (Minneota), 18-10; 195-Nathan Rose (Sibley East) dec. Adam Josephson (Minneota), 5-3.
132-Logan Peterson (Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City) dec. Andrew Swedzinski (Minneota), 4-0; 152-Mitchell Rohlik (Wabasso/RRC) maj. dec. Luke Norland (Jackson County Central), 8-0
120-Brandon Goblirsch (Wabasso/RRC) dec. Richy Soto (St. James), 8-1; 138-Tanner Rohlik (Wabasso/RRC) dec. Cain Renner (Eden Valley-Watkins), 10-5.
120-Mick Roemer (Wabasha-Kellogg) dec. Brandon Goblirsch (Wabasso/RRC), 7-6; 132-Ben Rynda (Trinity School) dec. Andrew Swedzinski (Minneota), 8-2; 138-Theodore Bueltel (Minneota) dec. Austin Kidrowski (Norwood-Young America), 7-6; 138-Jacob Anderson (River Valley) dec. Tanner Rohlik (Wabasso/RRC), 3-2; 152-Curt Maas (Medford) dec. Mitchell Rohlik (Wabasso/RRC), 8-2; 195-Adam Josephson (Minneota) dec. Tyler Schlosser (Parkers Prairie), 10-3; 220-Josh VanOverbeke (Minneota) maj. dec. Alex Thurber (Kimball), 10-0; 220-Cody Welch (Wabasso/RRC) pinned Weston Gadient (Goodhue), 3:15.
Juan Torres (Simley) pinned John Weeding (Dawson-Boyd/LQPV), 3:17; 160-John Redepenning (Rockford) dec. Sam Haas (Dawson-Boyd/LQPV), 11-5; 220-Joe Schiller (Totino-Grace) dec. JD Struxness (Dawson-Boyd/LQPV), 6-5.
126-John Weeding (Dawson-Boyd/LQPV) dec. Ben Henle (New London-Spicer), 4-3; 160-Sam Haas (Dawson-Boyd/LQPV) dec. Dylan Hanson (New London-Spicer), 12-6; 195-Broc Berge (Kasson-Mantorville) maj. dec. Brad Schmidt (Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove), 16-6; 220-JD Struxness (Dawson-Boyd/LQPV) dec. Tyler Petit (Plainview/Elgin-Millville), 8-2.
195-Austin Torres (Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran) dec. Brad Schmidt (Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove), 5-3 (OT)a
After a contest between the state's No. 1 (Welch) and No. 2-ranked (VanOverbeke) wrestlers, VanOverbeke closed out the season with a 41-1 record, while Welch went 41-3.
"It's hard to fight a leg rider," Welch said after the loss. "Once they get their legs in, you're kind of screwed."
Said Bobcats co-head coach Brett Bartholomaus, "We knew that that's a match Cody wanted to win on our feet. Even going into the second period scoreless, we needed to get out of the bottom to give ourselves a chance on our feet.
"Give credit to VanOverbeke. He rides tough, he knew what his plan was and we executed it better than us."
VanOverbeke, who finished third last year at heavyweight, rushed over to his coaches and gave Skillings a colossal bear hug.
After letting out a laugh, VanOverbeke said, "I told Joel that if I won, I was going to come over and do that. He's kind of smaller compared to me."
While winning the state title was a tremendous accomplishment, VanOverbeke was quick to note that it would have been better if senior teammate Adam Josephson also won a state title. In the 195-pound championship, Sibley East's Nathan Rose got a takedown with 24 seconds left in the match to come away with a 5-3 decision over Josephson.
"We had to bring one (title) home," VanOverbeke said.
VanOverbeke was the lone state champion out of 12 area wrestlers that made it to the championship semifinals. Minneota and Wabasso/RRC each brought home four medals, while Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley finished with three medalists.
Along with VanOverbeke's title and Josephson's second-place finish, Vikings senior Theodore Bueltel snuck into the 138-pound finals in Class A thanks to single-point victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Unable to wrestle last year due to a torn ACL, Bueltel got into the finals after breaking a 4-4 tie with 30 seconds left against No. 3-ranked Matt Meyer of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City for a 6-5 decision. In the finals, Bueltel fell to No. 4-ranked Jacob Anderson of River Valley in an 18-10 major decision.
"(Anderson's) one of those kids that has a funk to him. He does some good things. He caught us a few times, scored some points," Skillings said. "TJ had a tremendous season. I don't know if he feels that way right now, but he will."
Andrew Swedzinski also got onto the medal stand for Minneota with a fourth-place finish at 132 pounds. Falling in the championship semifinals to state runner-up Ben Rynda of Trinity School, Swedzinski defeated Ottertail Central's Zach Matthys in an 8-4 decision to reach the third-place match. Swedzinski fell in the final match in a 4-0 decision against ACGC's Logan Peterson.
Along with Welch's second-place finish, Mitchell Rohlik took third for the Bobcats at 152 pounds. Rohlik fell to eventual state champion Curt Maas of Medford in the semifinals, 8-2. Rohlik ended up recovering for a 3-2 victory against Aitkin's Jordan Chouanard. In the third-place match, Rohlik defeated Jackson County Central's Luke Norland in an 8-0 major decision.
Tanner Rohlik (138 pounds) and Brandon Goblirsch (120) each finished in fifth place.
"I'm very proud of our guys," Bartholomaus said. "I think we wrestled pretty well. We came up here with eight guys, and you get four medals out of the deal. These guys wrestled well."
In Class AA, Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley had three chances to win state titles with John Weeding (126 pounds), Sam Haas (160) and JD Struxness (220) all in championship matches.
Fighting a cold on Saturday that hampered his breathing, Weeding was able to muster a 4-3 decision against New London-Spicer's Ben Henle to advance to the finals.
"I didn't start too strong, so once I got taken down, it fired me up and I told myself that I need to get going," Weeding said after the victory.
But in the finals against two-time state champion, Juan Torres of Simley, Weeding's run came to an end as Torres won by pinfall in 3 minutes, 17 seconds.
"That was a very physical kid," D-B/LQPV head coach Ross Jurgenson said of Torres. "He took us to the cleaners. That's a tough kid."
Haas, who won his 200th career match with his first-round victory on Friday, reached the finals for the first time in five tries with a 12-6 decision in the semifinals against New London-Spicer's Dylan Hanson.
"It's awesome. I finally did it," Haas said afterwards. "I've been here four other times and I finally broke through in my senior year."
In the finals against Rockford's John Redepenning, the match was tied at 5 before Redepenning scored a three-point near fall as time expired in the second period. The boost was all Redepenning needed to get an 11-5 decision to win the state title at 160 pounds.
"We tried to tilt and tilt and tilt him, and he upped us over and put us on our back and that was the match," Jurgenson said. "Getting here five years in a row, Sam's got nothing to hang his head about."
Ranked third at 220 pounds, Struxness went up against Totino-Graces Joe Schiller in the finals. Struxness held onto a 5-4 lead late into the third period, but Schiller got a takedown with 24 seconds remaining to secure a 6-5 decision, leaving the United junior with second place.
In other Class AA action, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove's Brad Schmidt faced a tough task in his championship semifinal match against No. 1-ranked Broc Berge of Kasson-Mantonville. Berge, the eventual state champion, jumped out to an early lead and never relented, beating Schmidt 16-6.
"I think that semi took a lot out of Brad," said Panthers head coach Karl Campbell. "He didn't have the zip he had (Friday) night."
In the consolation bracket, Schmidt fell to Hutchinson's Paxton Jordahl, putting the TMB/WWG senior in the fifth-place match, where he took on Austin Torres of Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran. Torres and Schmidt met earlier in the tournament when Schmidt won a 7-1 decision to advance to the semifinals.
This time around, Schmidt got the match tied at 3 at the end of the third period, but Torres got a takedown in overtime for a 5-3 decision, putting Schmidt in sixth place.
Schmidt finished the season with a 39-8 record.
"It's tough to beat a kid twice in 24 hours, especially two who are evenly matched like that," Campbell said.
"Brad got his 75th win (Friday). He doesn't have anything to hang his head about. A lot of kids would love to trade places with him."