Alexandria wresting: Three Cardinals open state action today
Today's opening two rounds of wrestling action will be critical for all wrestlers at the State Class AAA individual tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, including Alexandria's Blake Olhausen, Tony Hubbard and Justin Cumberbatch.
Wrestlers hoping to continue wrestling tomorrow need to either win their first round, or, if they lose, need the wrestler that defeated them to win their second round.
All three of Alexandria's wrestlers are in favorable positions, if there is such a thing at the state tournament.
"Looking at their brackets, we are certainly happy with their place in the bracket," said Cardinal head coach Tom Ellison. "Any match at state is going to be a tough match, but you can certainly have a favorable draw by not having a returning state champ in your quartile, and Blake, Tony and Justin all have that situation.
"Not having that accomplished wrestler in your quartile will give the athlete an added boost of confidence that they can get out of the quartile, which would guarantee that you place.
"Blake will have to face a wrestler from Cambridge-Isanti and they are always tough," Ellison said, "so Blake will need to be at his best in his first match."
Olhausen, a freshman with a 28-9 record, opens his action at 120 pounds today against junior Travis Swanson of Cambridge-Isanti, who sports a 35-12 record.
If he wins, he faces either senior Ryan Weinmann of Irondale (34-6) or senior Wayde Hall of Stillwater (16-13).
Also in Olhausen's weight class is top-ranked Tommy Thorn of St. Michael-Albertville (40-1), who was last year's 113-pound champion. There are two other medalists in the field in Tanner Johnshoy of Prior Lake (37-2), last year's 113-pound runner-up, and Reid Lyden of East Ridge of Woodbury (37-5), sixth at 106 pounds.
"Tony has a wrestler from Rochester and usually the wrestlers coming out of Section 1AAA have a lot of match experience, so Tony will have to wrestle a smart match," said his coach of Hubbard's first opponent.
Hubbard, a 145-pound senior with a 32-5 record, faces Jake Hanson of Mayo, who has a 34-7 mark.
If he wins, he will then wrestle either senior Anthony Gamache of Osseo (29-10) or senior Chase Monger of Eden Prairie (32-7).
In this weight class, there are several returning medalists including Grant Nehring of St. Cloud Apollo (31-1), who was last year's 138-pound champion.
Also in the field are Dayton Racer of Apple Valley (26-1), the 138-pound runner-up; Lincoln Mallinger of St. Michael-Albertville (33-9), third at 138 pounds; and Shamar Williams of Lakeville South (21-6), fourth at 126 pounds.
"Justin's first round opponent doesn't have a winning record," noted Ellison, "so you have to wonder if he has a special technique or move that has allowed him to advance to the state tournament.
"Justin should stay focused on good technique and he will be fine."
Cumberbatch, a sophomore with a 32-2 record, faces junior Haden Hausken of Stillwater, whose record is 14-22. If Cumberbatch is victorious, he will face either senior Zach Lorang of Rochester Mayo (33-8) or junior Payton Otterdahl of Rosemount (32-10).
Cumberbatch had just one returning medalist in his field - Mitchell Eull of St. Michael-Albertville (28-1), who was third at 195 pounds last year.
"All three just need to wrestle their style and don't take anything for granted," said Ellison, "and they will have a great state tournament experience."
Today's Class AAA individual first round action begins at 11 a.m., with the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. and wrestlebacks at 8 p.m.
Tomorrow, Saturday, there will be five rounds of competition. The first starts at 10 a.m. and will consist of all individual consolation quarterfinals. The second round will start approximately at 11:15 a.m. and will include all individual championship semifinals.
Round three begins approximately at 1:15 p.m. and includes all individual consolation semifinals.
At approximately 5 p.m., all individual fifth- and third-place matches will begin. The day will end with all individual championships beginning at approximately 7:30 p.m.