by Jason Olson
Anoka’s storied wrestling history added another milestone March 3 as senior captain Kyle Begin won his second state championship at 170 pounds in as many seasons.
Tornadoes teammate Jeremy Beaman (145) placed third to conclude his prep career with a 39-11 record as a senior.
Begin defeated Albert Lea’s Trey Hable by a 4-2 score in overtime to give the Tornadoes its 50th state individual champion. The dramatic finale pinned the top-two ranked grapplers at 170 pounds against one another with Begin at the top, where he’s been all season and showed he deserved the honor.
The two hooked up during the season at a triangular in Farmington where Begin was taken down three times but managed to win the match.
“Kyle seemed pretty cool and calm during his [championship] match – a lot more than I was,” Anoka coach Todd Springer said as Begin ended it with a quick take down in overtime.
Confidence is what Begin said was the biggest difference from last season.[smooth=id:552]
He said the confidence that comes from already winning on state title has helped him wrestle in control this season.
“I felt the pressure [of being the top wrestler] but it also puts a lot of confidence on you,” he said after opening the tournament with a fall at 1:52 against ninth-ranked AJ Wheeler of Moorhead followed by a fall at 3:17 against Owatonna’s Jordan Zeman (ranked fourth at 170 pounds). The highly-ranked opponents continued as No. 3 ranked Ben Sullivan of Apple Valley fell to Begin by a 12-1 result in the semifinals.
Begin’s two pins gave him five straight falls after recording three to hoist the section crown.
“It’s kind of like old hat to him,” Anoka coach Todd Springer said about the first day of wrestling at state. “We barely got him out of bed today and it’s kind of like, just another tournament for him.”
Sullivan fell to Begin by a major decision at the Christmas Tournament in Rochester back in Decemeber.
The experience of going through one state tournament-title run helped Begin anticipate the pressure this season.
“I’m a lot more confident and since I’m rated number one, of course I’ve felt the pressure a little bit but it also puts more confidence on you,” Begin said.
Tornadoes assistant coach Lucas Murray said Begin was on pace after his first match, which he controlled from the starting whistle.
“He’s moving his feet and got in a good warm-up and did what he came here to do,” Murray, an Anoka graduate and member of the Augsburg College program said.
Beaman went 4-1 at the state tournament after he opened with a 7-0 win over Alexandria’s Tony Hubbard followed by a 10-8 win over Maple Grove’s Zack Gawboy.
“Jeremy’s performance was simply awesome,” Springer said. “I think he was just so happy to wrestle just one more match every time he stepped onto the mat and he just did not want it to end.”
Eventual champion Mark Hall of Apple Valley handed Beaman an 11-2 defeat in the championship semifinal for his only defeat at state. The loss relegated Beaman to the third place semifinals where he escaped with a 3-2 decision win over Andover’s Sam Stewart, his first win over the Huskies rival.
He topped Gawboy for a second time in as many days with a 10-3 win to secure his place on the podium.
Added pressure to keep winning came from the rest of the team in the form of the losing wrestler had to carry the bag of who remained in the tournament as punishment.
Springer said it was a huge help to see the maroon shirts in the stands all weekend as well.
‘It’s a big help to see those shirts in the stands cheering for the boys every match,” he said.
Both Anoka wrestlers ventured to Cambridge to train last week against the Bluejacket state-entrants including Cody Skog and Travis Holt. “That’s the beauty of the wrestling community, we always help out each other. These boys have been wrestling together forever.”
Andover sent two middle-weights to the state tournament and came away with early-round success. Senior Sam Stewart placed fifth at 145 pounds and sophomore Corey Parsons was fourth at 160 pounds.
Huskies coach Jeff Thompson said his wrestlers wanted a better outcome, “However, I think there is a lot to be proud of,” he said.
Stewart, a four-time state entrant who earned all-state honors three times, captured fifth place with a 6-2 win over Chaska’s Ethan Losbrock after posting a 16-1 tech fall in the opening round.
“He looks better than he’s ever been – confident and very relaxed and excited to see how the rest of the tournament goes,” Thompson said after Stewart’s first match. “He’s grown and matured as he should have, gotten stronger and had some health issues with his shoulder but he’s recovered.”
Stillwater’s Branden Madsen handed Stewart a 14-6 defeat in the championship quarterfinals which sent him into the wrestle backs.
Stewart downed Sartell’s Josh Halicke 5-3 to reach the third place semifinals. Anoka’s Jeremy Beaman edged his crosstown rival by a 3-2 score. Stewart finished his high school career with a 45-6 record after going 4-2 at state.
Parsons, who made his second state appearance, began with a great 11-1 win in the opening round over Sartell freshman Daniel Vitale before but was rewarded with a tough second-round match against eventual state champion Brandon Kingsley of Apple Valley by a 10-1 score.
“I do think facing Kingsley was great for Corey,” Thompson said as he felt Parson was ready to take a run at the Eagles standout. “He was very excited after wrestling him. I think it gave him a drive that will push him the next few years.”
Parsons began his run through the consolation bracket with a 10-4 win over Shakopee’s Sam Hall before losing to Cody Anderson of White Bear Lake in the third place quarterfinals 4-2.
Spring Lake Park
Spring Lake Park senior Phillip Horsager (132) finished sixth in his bracket going 2-2 while classmate Matt Strasser (160) went 0-2.
Panthers coach Eric Zehnder said Horsager turned in a good performance at state.
“He wrestled his style and all his hard work paid off with an All-State status,” Zehnder said. “After two solid wins he ran into a few very tough wrestlers, but he wrestled well in all his matches and definitely is deserving of his sixth place finish.”
Horsager reached the second round before losing to eventual state champion, Ben Morgan, from Forest Lake by a tech fall at 4:46. Horsager lost to Hastings Eric Bauer in the third place semifinals 12-1 and ended his tournament with a 13-0 loss to Woodbury’s J. Herold-Plakut by a 13-0 score in the fifth place match.
Strasser (160) lost both of hits matches to finish his prep career with a 32-11 record. Strasser lost to Albert Lea’s Dalton Westerund by a tech fall at 5:45 in the opening round. Strasser dropped his consolation-bracket match to White Bear Lake’s Cody Anderson 6-0.
“Both [Horsager and Strasser] had some adversity they had to overcome this year and they stayed focused and eventually were able to reach their goal of making it to the state tournament,” Zehnder said.
Horsager missed most of the season because of a dislocated elbow injury, indicated by his elbow wrapped in white tape. “I came back and just kept working with coaches and working back and got my stuff down and peaking at the right time of the year,” he said after his first round match. Horsager was looking to better his one-and-done performance at state last season. “It felt great to get back to state because I had a really tough section.”
Horsager opened with a 9-6 win over Dan Babineau of Brainerd and followed with an 8-2 win over Brandon Strong of Minneapolis South to set up his match against Morgan.
He led 7-6 going into the third period against Babineau. “I tried to feel him out in the first period and wrestled my match from there. I’ve always been a strong third period wrestler and he definitely made me more tired than any other opponents but I knew my strongest period was yet to come so I kept working and didn’t let it get to my head.”
• St. Francis junior Taylor Charles (152) lost his tourney opener to Eden Prairie’s Matt Gribben 6-2 and eventual state champion TJ Ohara of Tartan to end Charles’ state tournament with only one match.
• Blaine sophomore Caleb Butler (195) only wrestled one match at the state tournament which didn’t go in favor of the Bengal as he lost to Shakopee’s Scott Bode 12-4.
Bode lost his second round match to end Butler’s hopes of reaching the consolation finals. Butler finished his sophomore year with a 25-4 record.