Coon Rapids senior heavyweight Michael Burckhardt came up short of a state Class AAA title in the finals, Andover junior Corey Parsons won his third-place match at 170 pounds and Anoka’s Brandon Krone won his fifth-place match at 152 pounds to highlight ABC Newspapers area wrestlers at the Class AAA state wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul March 1-2.
Burckhardt, the top-ranked heavyweight and defending 220-pound Class AAA champion, had everything going in the right direction three matches into his bid for a second individual state title and a first back-to-back state champion for Coon Rapids.
Burckhardt, ranked No. 1 all season, scored two pins and a 14-8 points win en route to the championship match against Eagan’s Colin Fisher.
Fisher, ranked No. 2, won the 285-pound title over Burckhardt 5-3. The Cardinal heavyweight won the previous meeting at the Rumble on the Red in Fargo, N.D., in December on a reversal in double overtime.
In the state championship match, Burckhardt shot in on Fisher, who defended the move well enough to reverse the offensive attack to score the first take down of the match, which proved the turning point.
Burckhardt finished his high school career with a 128-43 record.
Leading up to the championship match, Burckhardt pinned Rocori’s Tyler Hoffman in 29 seconds and reached the final by pinning Irondale’s Eriq Smith in 3:21.
Burckhardt used his smaller frame against Smith to his advantage by keeping his distance and setting up his shots.
“I think that would’ve gone the distance if I wouldn’t have got his arm,” Burckhardt said about Smith exposing his arm at the wrong time late in the second period after a scoreless opening period.
Burckhardt scored a 14-8 win against St. Cloud Tech’s, No. 4 ranked, Jerrad Nieland in the second round.
Before the finals, Burckhardt said he kept his emotions in check better this time, compared with 2012. “I didn’t think I would have two pins at all,” he said. “I thought every match would be a grind.”
Knowing more of what to expect as a wrestler on the biggest stage helped him out. “I’m a lot calmer,” he said on the practice mat after the semifinal win. “I was a nervous wreck last year before semis and finals. I let the crowd get into my head and now I tune them out.”
Coon Rapids freshman Josh Bryant (31-15) and senior Nate Juhlkowski didn’t experience the same success.
Bryant, ranked eighth at 106 pounds, lost to Maple Grove’s seventh-ranked Brad Osatiuk (36-5) by a 7-0 score in the opener. He lost the previous meeting of the season in a conference dual 4-1.
Bryant recovered with a 7-3 win over Owatonna’s Tanner Cole, only to lose to Shakopee’s Alex Lloyd in the consolation semifinal by a 10-4 score. Bryant beat both wrestlers earlier in the season. Bryant caught Lloyd in a cradle during the regular season, so the Shakopee wrestler wanted to stay on his feet as much as possible.
Bryant started the third period on top of Lloyd, but the Sabre “blew out of the bottom like a cat,” Cardinals coach Bob Adams said.
“It’s difficult to get so close, one match from placing, after he didn’t start for us last season,” Cardinals assistant coach Adam Thronson said. Bryant will be even stronger next season after gaining valuable experience.
Juhlkowski (28-17) dropped a 3-0 decision to fourth-ranked Albert Lea senior Lucas Hansen (38-4) in his only match at the tournament.
“Nate gave everything he had,” Thronson said.
Juhlkowski trailed 1-0 going into the third period and missed a take down with 30 seconds left which might have reversed the result.
“Qualifying for the first time and being a senior is tough,” Adams said. “I was proud of the fact that Nate didn’t wrestle like a deer in the headlights like so many first-time wrestlers do their first time in the tournament.”
Juhlkowski finished his prep career with a 51-25 mark.
Anoka junior 152 pounder Brandon Krone (42-6) placed fifth after scoring a 9-0 win against Rochester Mayo’s Brady Nelson Saturday afternoon.
Krone opened with a 4-1 decision over eighth-ranked Eden Prairie senior Matt Gribben followed by an 11-5 win against Henry Sibley sophomore Garrett Beaman in the quarterfinal.
Willmar ninth-grader Colten Carlson sent Krone into the consolation bracket with a 6-1 loss in the championship semifinal and he reached the fifth-place match after losing to Shakopee’s Patrick Casey by a 5-4 decision in the wrestlebacks.
“Anytime a wrestler loses in the semifinals then in wrestle backs, that is tough,” Anoka coach Kurt Werk said. “After losing that one-point match I think he figured out that in order for him to have success he needs to pick up the pace and wrestle his type of match. In the placing round he showed that by scoring nine points and dominating.”
Tornadoes sophomore Matt Njos placed sixth at 182 pounds after dropping his fifth-place match to Lakeville North’s eighth-ranked Tristyn Hanson in triple overtime 6-4 to finish his run at the state tournament 3-3.
“With each match he gained confidence and that showed by beating the fifth-ranked kid in the round that either sends you home or to the placement round,” Werk said.
Njos (39-17) opened state with a 7-1 win against Stillwater’s Sebastian Dingle before losing a 10-7 decision to Hanson in their first meeting of the tournament. The loss sent Njos into the consolation bracket where he handed Willmar’s Augustine Hahn a 6-2 loss and followed with a 4-2 win against Champlin Park’s LaQuan Wallace to reach the consolation semifinals. Rosemount’s Sam Moeller scored a 9-1 win over Njos to send him into the fifth-place match.
“Going up a weight class can sometimes be tough, but we thought that he wrestled great and with a lot of heart,” Werk said.
Seeing the hard work put in during practice and off-season training on the mat and weight room has been impressive for Werk and the staff. “They train all season long for these matches [state] and it shows by their performance,” Werk said.
Anoka has had two state place winners over the last two years. “That is a tough thing to do,” Werk said. “Everyone in our wrestling room knows that their hard work and dedication will pay off when it counts.”
Look for Anoka to make it three years in a row as they return two state place winners and five additional section place winners next season.
Parsons, top ranked at 170 pounds, was third at 170 pounds after topping Chaska’s Ethan Loosbrock 3-2 Saturday evening.
The win was Parsons’ second against Loosbrock in the tournament after Parsons (45-7) won the second-round match 1-0 to reach the championship semifinals.
Huskies coach Jeff Thompson said the idea against Loosbrock was to start the third period in the down position. “We knew that he would have trouble holding Corey down for a full period, we just didn’t know that it would take Corey to the very end of the period to escape,” he said. “It was really exciting seeing him moving in and out with just a few seconds left on the clock.”
Parsons fell to Tartan’s TJ Ohara, who was ranked second in the state, 11-2, in the championship semifinals to drop to the consolation semifinals, where he handed White Bear Lake’s Tommy Longendyke an 8-3 loss to earn a rematch against Loosbrock in the third-place match.
Facing the same wrestler twice in one tournament poses a few challenges or advantages.
“I never like wrestling a kid twice,” Thompson said. “I always get nervous. It can make a wrestler overconfident or give them the confidence to dominate. You add the fact that this was for third in state, my heart was beating a little fast.”
As for next season’s prospects or Parsons returning to the state podium, “He has eyes on gold and only gold. He will be working that much harder in the off season to get it. I can’t wait!”
Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony
Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony freshman Danny Chlebeck (33-8) went 0-2 in the 113-pound bracket. He opened with a 2-1 loss to Farmington freshman Jamin LeDuc and followed that with a 2-0 loss to Forest Lake sophomore Luke McCord in the consolation quarterfinals.
St. Francis senior Conan Sandberg (36-9) was stopped in the 220-pound opener by fifth-ranked Centennial senior Andrew Gustafson by a pin at 5:19 of the match. Gustafson lost his second round match to end Sandberg’s hopes of another match at state.
Jason Olson is at [email protected]