ST. PAUL?- The state wrestling tournament can be brutal, and the first day of the Class AA individual tournament was especially tough on Marshall Independent-area wrestlers as only five out of 14 made it out of the first round on Friday.
Out of the five grapplers that will be back at the Xcel Energy Center today, three will compete in semifinals with a chance to make it to the championship match.
With eight wrestlers on its roster competing at state Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley/Montevideo had by far the majority of local wrestlers at state but, after the first rounds of competition, United is whittled down to just three guys left.
Photo by Stephen Wiblemo
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Logan Axford locks up with Zimmerman’s Hunter Smith during the quarterfinals of the Class 2A Individual Wrestling State Tournament on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Axford went 2-0 Friday.
"We wrestled fairly well today," United head coach Ross Jurgenson said. "When we lost, we lost to pretty good kids. There are some good kids you don't hear about but they are there. They are tough, and you have to have your A-game' or else you are going to go down."
Leading United with two wins Friday and heading to the semifinals of their weight classes were 138-pounder Logan Knoshal and 285-pounder Jake Lehmann.
After going 0-1 in his first trip to state last year, Knoshal is excited about wrestling for a spot in the finals today.
"I would never have imagined I would be here, even at the beginning of the year," he said. "I thought it would take a lot to get here, but I did it and it feels good."
His past experience wasn't totally forgotten, though, and it may have even helped him this year as he opened the tournament with a 4-2 victory to get his 100th career win.
"Wrestling in the Xcel is a different experience," he said. "Wrestling yesterday with the team helped get me rolling, too."
Joining those two United wrestlers on the second day is their teammate, Joe Weeding, who went 2-1 on the first day and is wrestling in the 170-pound consolation bracket.
Weeding opened up the tournament with a 7-4 win in his first match, but ran into a buzz saw in the quarterfinal and lost 3-0 to the No. 1 ranked guy in state, Derek Dahlke of Scott West.
Weeding didn't get down about the loss, though, and instead came back with a narrow 6-5 win in overtime of his wrestleback match.
"All I kept telling myself is that, as a senior, this could be my last match and I didn't want it to end that way," Weeding said. "Somehow I dug deep and did what I needed to do. I'm not ready to be done yet."
Two other area wrestlers made it out of the first day of the tournament.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton's 132-pounder, Logan Axford, went 2-0 in his first state appearance and is set for a semifinal match today. He won breezed through his first round match, but then upset Hunter Smith, the No. 6-ranked wrestler from Zimmerman, 3-1 in the quarterfinal.
"I didn't expect much (against Smith) because we didn't get to see him before," Axford said. "I just had to go in and beat him. I want to hopefully place high (Saturday) and get to the finals."
The final area wrestler still competing at state is Quad County's Colten Specht. He is the only wrestler out of four Quad County qualifiers still alive. The 120-pounder pinned his first-round opponent, but then lost an 8-2 decision the the No. 3 wrestler in the state. He won his wrestleback match 9-2.
Among the local wrestlers eliminated in the first round of the tournament was Marshall's lone entrant, Toby Semler. In his first state competition he learned the hard way that rankings don't mean much at state.
Semler, who was ranked No. 7 in state, faced Orono's Jon Schmid in the first round. Although Schmid isn't ranked, he was able to pull off a narrow 6-5 upset over Semler, who then lost in the quarterfinal to end the Marshall grappler's hope of a wrestleback.
Class AA First Round
106: Jon Schmid (Orono) decision over Toby Semler (Marshall), 6-5; 113: Clayton Hartle (Fulda) pinned Justin Swetala (Richfield), 4:59; 120: Colten Specht (Quad County) pinned Greg Kerkvleit (Simley), 0:40; Tanner Vassar (Annandale/ML) decision over Jordan Bothun (United), 11-4; 126: Bailey Eickhoff (United) decision over Stephen Holecek (Thief River Falls), 7-4; 132: Logan Axford (TMB) decision over Reid Johnson (North Branch), 6-0; 138: Logan Knoshal (United) decision over Zach Spychalla (Simley), 4-2; Nick Mergen (Albany) decision over Kirby Winson (Quad County), 7-6; 145: Alexi Bode (Fosston/Bagley) decision over Dylan Johnson (Quad County), 6-5; 152: Keith Abraham (United) decision over Damarius Gilmer (Minneapolis Patrick Henry), 8-3; 160: Ben Boran (WEM/JWP) pinned Mason Kwilinski (United); 1:45; 170: Joe Weeding (United) decision over Carter Burn (Benilde-St. Margaret's), 7-4; 182: Alex Goergen (Caledonia) pinned Hayden Johnson (Quad County), 4:12; 220: Jake Filk (Hutchinson) pinned David Nelson (United), 1:40; 285: Jake Lehmann (United) decision over Blake Mauss (Caledonia), 2-1.
Class AA Quarterfinals
113: Anthony Jackson (Simley) decision over Clayton Hartle (Fulda), 8-4; 120: Tevin Zavadil (Monticello) decision over Colten Specht (Quad County), 8-2; 126: Riley Drew (Hutchinson) decision over Bailey Eickhoff (United), 11-4; 132: Logan Axford (TMB) decision over Hunter Smith (Zimmerman), 3-1; 138: Logan Knoshal (United) pinned Devin Nelson (Albert Lee), 5:30; 152: Parker Jackson (Detroit Lakes) decision over Keith Abraham (United), 11-5; 170: Derek Dahlke (Scott West) decision over Joe Weeding (United), 3-0; 285: Jake Lehmann (United) decision over Jared Adkins (Pequot Lakes), 8-1.
Class AA Wrestlebacks
113: Jacob Jewett (GSL/LP) decision over Clayton Hartle (Fulda), 11-4; 120: Colten Specht (Quad County) decision over Joe Palik (Grand Rapids), 9-2; Dylan Connell (Chisago Lakes) pinned Jordan Bothun (United), 5:56; 126: David Brenden (Grand Rapids) decision over Bailey Eickhoff (United), 11-5; 138: Devin Fitzpatrick (Monticello) major decision over Kirby Winson (Quad County), 15-5; 152: Carter Barnes (Monticello) decision over Keith Abraham (United), 9-8; 170: Joe Weeding (United) decision over Michael Avwunuma (Simley), 6-5 OT; 182: Isaac Florell (Totino Grace) pinned Hayden Johnson (Quad County), 0:44.
132-Logan Axford (TMB)
138-Logan Knoshal (United)
285-Jake Lehmann (United)
120-Colten Specht (Quad County) 2-1
170-Joe Weeding (United) 2-1
106-Toby Semler (Marshall) 0-1
113-Clayton Hartle (Fulda) 1-2
120-Jordan Bothun (United) 0-2
126-Bailey Eickhoff (United) 1-2
138-Kirby Winson (Quad County) 0-2
145-Dylan Johnson (Quad County) 0-1
152-Keith Abraham (United) 1-2
182-Hayden Johnson (Quad City) 0-2
220-David Nelson (United) 0-1