Wrestling: 21 area athletes punch their tickets to the state tournament

Alexandria, Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie, Minnewaska, Osakis, and West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville will be well-represented at the state tournament next weekend.

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Alexandria senior Blaze Nelson uses a headlock to try to create some offense during his 12-6 win over KMS' Noah Johnson in the finals of the 138 pound bracket of the Big Ole Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023. Nelson went 3-0 with 3 pins in the Section 8AA Individual Tournament at 145 pounds on Feb. 25, 2023, and is headed to the Class AA state tournament.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Many area wrestlers punched their tickets to the 2023 MSHSL State Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on March 3 and 4 in St. Paul after placing in the top two in their section tournaments on Friday and Saturday.

Class AA -


(All state qualifiers are labeled in BOLD)

Three Cardinals, freshman Nolan Fettig (106), junior Mason McGrane (126), and senior Blaze Nelson (145), are headed to the Class AA state tournament.

Nelson (35-7) was dominant at the Section 8AA tournament in Detroit Lakes on Friday and Saturday with three pins (0:53, 1:17, and 3:14). Nelson, who is ranked No. 6 at 145 in The Guillotine’s Class AA rankings, pinned No. 8 Tyson Ullyott (37-5) in the finals.


McGrane, who made the state tournament last year as a sophomore and was one match away from placing in the top six, earned two pins (0:53 and 3:01) to get to his section finals match.

No. 10 Jacob Luebke (36-5) of Dillworth-Glyndon-Felton, edged out McGrane (32-4), ranked No. 7, in the section finals 10-9.

Fettig (42-2), who is ranked No. 6, earned two pins (1:12 and 0:45) to get to the finals, where he met Robby Sherk (Park Rapids Area). Sherk, who is ranked No. 3, pinned Fettig (1:18) to seal the section title.

Seniors Kelly Johnson (170) and Landon Seward (182) rounded out their careers with a third place finish in their brackets.

Johnson (36-7) earned two pins (0:21 and 0:40) and a 4-2 decision in sudden victory period one over Jacob Widness (27-11) of Fergus Falls in the third place match. Thief River Falls’ Damon Ferguson (41-5), ranked No. 5, defeated Johnson by an 8-1 decision in the true second place match.

Seward (33-14) earned an 11-2 major decision and two pins (1:29 and 2:43) in the tournament.

Sophomore Luke Maanum (21-15, 285) rounded out his year with two pins (0:37 and 0:31) to earn fifth.

The Class AA state tournament begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 3.


Class A -

West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville

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WCA-A-B-E senior Anthony Sykora (182) uses a headlock to secure a first period pin against Osakis' Kaleb Helberg on Jan. 6, 2023. Sykora went 3-0 on the day. Sykora is a state champion (170) and is 45-1 after winning the Section 6A title at 182 pounds on Feb. 25, 2023, and is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in Class A at 182 heading into the state tournament.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Seven West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville Knights are headed to the state tournament after earning top two finishes in the Section 6A tournament at Wadena-Deer Creek on Saturday.

Senior Anthony Sykora (182), who won a state title last season at 170, continued his dominant season (45-1) with a win by technical fall win (18-3, 1:55) in the semifinals and a pin (2:40) over Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie’s Justin Koehn (23-19) in the finals.

Sykora is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in Class A at 182 by The Guillotine. 

Sophomore Hunter Gruchow (145), who placed sixth at 132 pounds in last year’s state tournament, earned a pin in the semifinals (0:33) and a 7-2 decision over B-H-V-PP’s David Revering in the finals. Gruchow (42-5) is ranked No. 4 at 145.

Junior Solomon Wales (138), a returning state qualifier from last season, captured a section title with two pins (0:54 and 1:14) in the first two rounds and a 6-4 decision over B-H-V-PP’s Deagan Captain in the finals. Wales (35-11) is ranked No. 6 at 138.

Junior Will Rustan (220) and senior Justin Blascyk (285) also won section titles on Saturday.

Rustan (28-14) earned two pins (5:53 and 3:45) to seal his title, while Blascyk (33-9) earned a pin in the semifinals (5:03) and a 7-2 decision of B-H-V-PP’s Braden Shamp in the finals. Blascyk is ranked No. 8 at 285.


8th-grader Owen Gruchow (106) and senior Beau Robinson (195) made the state tournament as well by placing second in their brackets.

Owen Gruchow (34-7) earned a pin (1:33) and a 7-0 decision to get to the finals but fell to Osakis sophomore Reggie George (39-1) by an 11-3 major decision in the finals. Owen Gruchow is ranked No. 4 at 106, while George is ranked No. 2.

Robinson (29-11) earned a pin in the semifinals (5:39) but fell to Wadena-Deer Creek’s Kobe Endres (37-2) by a pin (5:21) in the finals. Robinson is ranked No. 8 at 195.

Junior Adam Lohse (132) finished up his season with a 32-14 record and earning third after earning two pins (1:16 and 0:31) along with a 5-2 decision.

Sophomore Jeremy Blascyk (18-25, 170) earned a pin (3:04) and a 7-3 decision en route to earning fourth on Saturday.

7th-grader Evan Dingwall (19-20) earned fifth at 113 after earning a 7-5 decision, while junior Carter Lohse (13-8) earned fifth at 132 after earning a pin (2:33) and freshman Ezekiel Sieckert (11-13) capped off his season with a pin (0:45) at 160 to earn fifth.

The Knights are ranked No. 7 in the Class A team poll and face No. 1 Jackson County Central to open the MSHSL Team State Tournament on Thursday, March 2.


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Osakis then-freshman Reggie George works for a pin in a consolation match at the 2022 MSHSL State Championships on March 5, 2022. George, now a sophomore, is 39-1 after winning the Section 6A title at 106 and is headed back to the state tournament.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Along with George, Osakis will be represented by juniors Jacob Taplin (126) and Gaven Cimbura (160). 


Taplin (27-9), who made the state tournament last season, earned two pins (1:24 and 3:23) in the first two rounds and won the section title with a 9-6 decision over BHVPP’s Bennet Arceneau in the finals.

Cimbura (34-11) got a 7-2 decision to start his day and, after a loss, earned two straight pins (1:32 and 3:50) to get to a true second place match. In the true second place match, Cimbura edged out a 3-2 win over B-H-V-PP’s Cayden Kimber to earn his spot in the state tournament.

Also going to the state tournament is sophomore Joy Kral (7-7), who will wrestle at the girls state tournament at 185 pounds after placing second at the Section 6 & 7 meet in Sartell on Feb. 11.

Senior Kale Drelow ended his tenure with a 32-8 record and, with two pins to begin the tournament, placed fourth at 152.

8th-grader Conner Koep (18-21) earned two pins to end his season and place third at 195, while freshman Simon Jacobson (26-20) earned an 11-1 major decision and a pin (3:20) that helped him place fourth at 113.

8th-grader Tucker Hagen (14-19) earned a 6-0 decision and a pin (1:46) to earn fifth place at 145.


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B-H-V-PP's Deagen Captain flexes after winning his match at 138 pounds at the Section 6A Team Tournament finals on Feb. 17, 2023, in Barrett. Captain is one of six Raiders who are headed to the 2023 MSHSL State Tournament.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

B-H-V-PP had six wrestlers earn second at the Section 6A tournament, and those six are headed to the state tournament.

Freshman Justin Olson (120) earned a pin (0:39) and a 9-1 major decision to start the tournament. Olson (30-12), who is ranked No. 9 at 120, lost by a 13-4 major decision to Pelican Rapids Jed Carlson (31-12).


Senior Bennet Arceneau (132) had a bye and a pin (3:04) in the semifinals before falling to Taplin in the finals. Arceneau (36-8) is ranked No. 6 at 132.

Senior Deagan Captain (138) earned two pins (0:30 and 3:35) before falling to Wales in the finals. Captain (28-7) defeated Carson Roehl of Otter Tail Central (12-16) with a pin (0:51).

Junior David Revering (145) rolled through the first two rounds with pins (1:09 and 0:52) to get to his finals match with Hunter Gruchow. Revering (37-7) is ranked No. 8 at 145.

Senior Justin Koehn (182) earned a pin in the first round (0:41) and a 3-1 decision to get to the finals at 182, where he met Sykora. Koehn is 23-19 on the season.

Sophomore Braden Shamp (285) got two pins (3:18 and 4:17) to get to the finals. After falling the Justin Blascyk, Shamp earned an 11-4 decision over OTC’s Kale Rich in the true second place match.

B-H-V-PP had a solid trio of third place finishers in freshman Hudson Traux (106), sophomore Orran Hart (113), and sophomore Cayden Kimber (160).

Traux (38-7) earned a technical fall win (17-1, 2:43), a 12-3 major decision, and a pin (5:40), while Hart had a 14-0 major decision and 7-1 decision, and Kimber had a technical fall (16-1, 4:54) and a pin 1:21.

Senior Blake Sumstad (18-21, 152) earned a 7-5 decision and an 8-0 major decision which helped him earn fourth, 7th-grade Carson Sanford placed fifth at 195.


In the girls tournament, junior Abby Ervasti (138) will look to build off of her second place finish from last season’s tournament (at 145). Ervasti (15-3) won the Section 6-7A title at 138 in Sartell on Feb. 11 and is ranked No. 4 at 138.


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Minnewaska seventh-grader Miles Wildman, left, tries to gain the advantage on KMS' Colton Noble during their 106-pound match in the Section 5A quarterfinals Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023 at Kerkhoven. Wildman won the Section 5A Individual title at 106 on Feb. 25, 2023, and is 37-2 on the year heading into the state tournament.
Joe Brown / Forum News Service

The Minnewaska Lakers hosted the Section 5A tournament in Glenwood, and two Lakers pushed their way to the state meet.

8th-grader Miles Wildman (106) continued his stellar season (37-2) with a pin (2:50), a 14-2 major decision, and an 8-6 decision over Paynesville Area’s Roman Reberg (22-11) in the finals. Wildman is ranked No. 5 at 160.

Sophomore Chase Smith (113), ranked No. 8, earned two pins (1:05 and 5:58) to get to the finals and ran into undefeated Trey Gunderson of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, who won the state title at 106 last season.

Gunderson moved to 51-0 with a pin over Smith (34-3) in the first period (1:44).

Smith made the tournament last season at 113.

Senior Nick Ankeny (132), junior Myles Reichmann (160), and senior Chase Boelke (182) nearly made the state tournament as they placed third in their brackets.

Ankeny (36-4) earned two pins (3:00 and 2:43) and a 3-2 at the tournament, while Reichmann (26-13) earned a 6-0 decision, a 13-8 decision, and a pin (1:24) to earn third. Boelke (28-12) earned three pins (0:37, 2:28, and 4:41) to get third place.

Sophomore Noah Jensen (25-15, 220) earned a 6-4 decision and a pin (4:07) to earn fourth in his bracket, while junior Jayce Kovarik (24-10) placed fourth at 145 with a pin (5:34) and a win by injury time.

Rounding out the top-five finishers by Minnewaska, 7th-grader Isaiah Rosario (9-8) placed fifth at 126 with a pin (2:12), a 12-5 decision, and a 13-5 major decision, while junior Mason Schiffler (18-9) placed fifth at 132 with a 7-3 decision and a pin (1:13), and Nathan Dell (18-16) placed fifth at 152 with a win by technical fall (21-5, 5:32).

The Class A State Tournament begins on Thursday morning after the Class AA and AAA opening matches. All the quarterfinals and initial wrestle backs will be wrestled starting a 4 p.m. on Friday, March 3.

On Saturday, March 4, the girls quarterfinals, semifinals, and consolation matches, along with the consolation quarterfinals and semifinals, begin at 9 a.m. The third and fifth place matches begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, followed by all the first place matches.

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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