ST. PAUL - Wabasso/Red Rock Central and Minneota/Lincoln HI have two wrestlers each destined for the state semifinals today after 2-0 performances Friday in the first round of the Class A state individual wrestling tournament.
The Vikings started the day with seven wrestlers in the state tournament, and at the end they had four still alive including 106-pounder Brock Buysse and 138-pounder Bryce Brunner, both of whom are wrestling in the championship bracket.
Buysse, who is the No. 1 ranked wrestler at his weight, claimed a 6-0 win in his opening match and then edged out Anthony Kern of Bertha-Hewitt, the No. 3 ranked wrestler, 4-1 in the quarterfinal.
Brunner, who is ranked No. 6 in state, also had to knock off some tough competition. After beating the No. 8 ranked wrestler 6-1 in his opening match, he went on to upset Austin Brockhoff of Sibley East, who is ranked No. 2, 10-2 in the quarterfinal.
While those two will be competing for spots in the finals today, the Vikings also have two other wrestlers who earned their way back to the Xcel the hard way, through wrestleback matches.
At 160 pounds, after losing his opener Cole Hennen bounced back several hours later with an 8-4 win in his wrestleback to stay alive.
Alec Engler, a 145-pounder for the Vikings, won his opening match but then ran up against an undefeated, defending champion, Larry Bomstad of ACGC, and lost 3-0.
"I knew I still had a big match ahead of me and I had to keep close to win it," Engler said. I kept it close buy couldn't figure out a shot against him. He's a tough kid."
Engler, who has been to the state tournament two other times but never gotten past the opening round, was determined to make it back Saturday. Despite losing the quarterfinal, he kept his head up and won 6-3 in the wrestleback.
"When we (the Vikings) got our first loss (Thursday) we kind of put our tail between our legs and didn't want to wrestle," Engler said. "That's not us, but that's what can happen if you aren't ready for it and you get down."
Also competing in semifinals today for the W/RRC Bobcats are 120-pounder Spencer Jenniges and 285-pounder Alex Schroepfer. Both are undefeated this year and Jenniges is ranked No. 2 while Schroepfer is No. 1.
Jenniges had the easier first day, cleaning up 8-1 in his opening match and then winning 6-0 in the quarterfinal. This is his third year at state, and while he is confident he has a good shot at making the finals he knows he can't take people for granted. Not at state.
"I feel confident, but you have to take everyone seriously," Jenniges said. "Anyone could throw a headlock or something could happen. You have to take everyone seriously."
Schroepfer feels the same as his teammate, but unlike Jenniges he had to fight just to get into the semifinal. After a first-period pin in his first match Schroepfer went up against Frazee's Garrett Malstrom, the No. 2 ranked wrestler, in the quarterfinal.
Schroepfer proved why he is the top ranked guy, though, and why Malstrom is No. 2. After a close first period Schroepfer took advantage of a mistake and caught Malstrom on his back for a pin at 2:16.
"I definitely wanted to get this last win here. I knew it would be an obstacle, but I pulled it off," he said. "I was sitting there waiting, and I could feel his arm go by my waist," Schroepfer said. "I just grabbed on to that elbow, rolled him and caught him on his back."
This is Schroepfer's third trip to state and after finishing fifth last year he is hopeful of improving on that place, and possibly even bringing home gold.
Class A First Round
106: Brock Buysse (M/LHI) decision over Rylan Molinaro (ACGC), 6-0; 120: Spencer Jenniges (W/RRC) decision over Conrad Kondos (Breckenridge), 8-1; 126: Grant Jepson (Frazee) decision over Landyn VanOverbeke (M/LHI), 11-8; 138: Bryce Bruner (M/LHI) decision over Austin Skillings (Frazee), 6-1; 145: Alec Engler (M/LHI) decision over Kody Lefebvre (Mahnomen), 6-0; 152: Jerod Novak (Aitkin) decision over Nicholas Esping (M/LHI), 5-2; 160: Andrew Dayland (St. Charles) decision over Cole Hennen (M/LHI), 5-0; 170: Ryan Stottler (Minnewaska) decision over Jordan Schroepfer (W/RRC), 6-1; 182: Christian Full (Canby) pinned Josh McKeown (Prairie Valley), 3:12; 220: Tyler Olson (Maple River) pinned Jared Welch (W/RRC), 5:48; 285: Alex Schroepfer (W/RRC) pinned Mike Schively (Wabasha-Kellogg) at 0:32; Cole Grinsteinner (Crosby-Ironton) decision over Trent Esping (M/LHI), 3-2.
Class A Quarterfinals
106: Brock Buysse (M/LHI) decision over Anthony Kern (Bertha-Hewitt), 4-1; 120: Spencer Jenniges (W/RRC) decision over Brandon Sullivan (Pierz), 6-0; 138: Bryce Bruner (M/LHI) decision over Austin Brockhoff (Sibley East), 10-2; 145: Larry Bomstad (ACGC) decision over Alec Engler (M/LHI), 3-0; 182: Nathan Brinker (Holdingford) decision over Christian Full (Canby), 3-2; 285: Alex Schroepfer (W/RRC) pinned Garrett Malstrom (Frazee), 2:16.
Class A Wrestlebacks
145: Alec Engler (M/LHI) decision over Cody Heitman (Zumbrota-Mazeppa), 6-3; 160: Cole Hennen (M/LHI) decision over Jake Wentzlaff (Pelican Rapids), 8-4; 170: Sam Swanson (Trinity School) decision over Jordan Schroepfer (W/RRC), 3-1; 182: Hunter Prodzinski (Zumbrota-Mazeppa) decision over Christian Full (Canby), 5-2.
106-Brock Buysse (M/LHI)
120-Spencer Jenniges (W/RRC)
138-Bryce Brunner (M/LHI)
285-Alex Schroepfer (W/RRC)
145-Alec Engler (M/LHI) 2-1
160-Cole Hennen (M/LHI) 1-1
126-Landyn VanOverbeke (M/LHI) 0-1
152-Nicholas Esping (M/LHI) 0-1
170-Jordan Schroepfer (W/RRC) 0-2
182-Christian Full (Canby) 1-2
220-Jared Welch (W/RRC) 0-1
285-Trent Esping (M/LHI) 0-1