by Jason Olson
Coon Rapids junior Michael Burckhardt captured the 220-pound Class AAA state championship with his 43rd win of the season, downing fellow Northwest Suburban Conference wrestler and No. 4 ranked Isaac Eichmann of Champlin Park 5-2 in the championship final.
Cardinals passionate head coach Bob Adams said he saw a new level of maturity from Burckhardt which helped him focus on the end prize – a state title.
Burckhardt, ranked No. 2 in the final Class AAA poll, became the ninth state champion from Coon Rapids and has the chance to be the first multiple-state champion next season.
Burckhardt shutout St. Cloud Apollo’s Bryce Kirchner 9-0 in the opening round, Roseville’s standout 10th-ranked David Johnson 9-6 in the second round and Owatonna’s No. 3 ranked Coyte Kuefner 8-5 to secure his place in the title match.
Burckhardt’s second round match was only Johnson’s fourth loss of the season. “Johnson’s a very strong, quick and pretty explosive kid but Michael’s a tough athlete and our game plan is to push him to his limit,” Adams said between first and second round matches. The plan worked.
Burckhardt worked out with Lowe and Blaine’s Caleb Butler (195) who also competed at state.
“The scores may have been close in the matches, but Michael was never in any serious trouble of losing any of those matches,” Adams said about the control Burckhardt developed this season. “When you wrestle at state you expect close, hard-fought matches. Wrestling the top kid in the state from our section the week before also helped build your confidence.”
Burckhardt beat St. Michael’s top-ranked senior Nick Edling in the section finals.
“Michael turned the corner this year,” Adams said as Burckhardt found himself kicked out of practices last season because of a lack of seriousness during practice at times. “I pulled my hair out wondering if even keeping him in the room was worth it,” he said.
As a result, Adams brought in young alumni coaches to push him everyday at practice, “so he had to take practice serious,” Adams said as state champion Eric Berdahl and Jake Emmerfoll worked him out every day. “Michael had no choice but to take the sport serious this year and has done a wonderful job.”
Adams added that he’s incredibly proud of Burckhardt winning a state title but at how much he’s matured in the wrestling room.
Berdahl and Emmerfoll coined Burckhardt’s new nickname ‘Two Time’ over the last two months as in two time state champion. He’s halfway there.
“He was never allowed to rest and always needed his guard up throughout the season,” Adams said.
Lowe makes it back
Coon Rapids senior Tanner Lowe (285) already fought an uphill battle just to position himself for a spot in the state tournament, but finished with the sixth place medal.
Lowe, ranked No. 1 most of the season, had knee surgery three weeks before state after a training injury nearly ended his prep wrestling career and said the toughest part of recovering was getting his conditioning-level back to the pre-injury level.
“It was pretty stressful,” Lowe said about the recovery process after placing third last season. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to wrestle, but I’m excited to be back and trying to get a state title.”
The recovery process began the day after surgery with exercise/elliptical training sessions for seven days before light drill work the week before sections. “This week I was full-go. I’m sore everyday, but I ice it and it’s fine,” the Northern Illinois-recruit admitted, after training sessions against Burckhardt and Blaine’s Caleb Butler the week before state.
Lowe, the Cardinals highly-ranked heavyweight not only recovered from the injury to finish runner-up in the section tournament but finished with a 3-3 record at the state meet to place sixth, losing to Eagan’s Colin Fisher in overtime 3-2 of their fifth place match.
Lowe, who ended the season ranked No. 1, opened the weekend with a 5-2 win over Minnetonka’s Oscar Arteaga before losing to Shakopee’s Corey Anderson 4-3.
The loss relegated Lowe to the consolation bracket where he picked up wins over Mounds View’s Mick Nelson 2-0 and Rosemount’s Stefan Sauer 5-3 before losing to St. Cloud Tech’s Jerrad Nieland in the third place semifinal 3-2.
Adams said the loss was a downer for the team, after such a standout season and prep career at Coon Rapids.
“I remember telling him in class back in eigth grade to come out for the sport and he would be a great wrestler,” Adams said, correctly predicting the future for Lowe. “Then a few years later he’s ranked number one. When you are ranked number one, everyone is gunning to beat you.
“I’ve really enjoyed writing his name down in the score book as our anchor, knowing that if the team score was close, Tanner will pull it out for us, and Tanner always did.”
• Coon Rapids freshman Blane Tschida captured fifth place at 106 pounds after East Ridge’s Reid Lyden couldn’t wrestle because of an injury default and finished the season with a 39-5 record. Tschida lost in the championship semifinals after Apple Valley freshman and eventual state champion Maolu Woiwor by fall at 33 seconds and also lost his third-place championship semifinal to Bemidji’s Brian Maas 1-0.
Tschida opened state with a 4-2 win over Stillwater’s Christian Bahl and needed overtime to move past Farmington eighth grader Taylor Venze 5-3. Tschida held a two-point lead late before a take down forced overtime, which was short lived as Tschida ended the match five seconds in with a take down.
Tschida pinned Woiwor during a summer match but the roles were reversed this time as he was caught in a cradle in the first period.
• Coon Rapids junior Joe Anderson’s run at the state 120-pound bracket was limited to one match which he lost to Irondale’s Dustin Weinmann by fall at 1:28. Eden Prairie’s Ben Brancale downed Weinmann in the second round to end Anderson’s tournament.