The Bengals wrestled to very lofty results with both state qualifiers placing among the best in the state.
Sophomore Malik Stewart lost his section final rematch in the 120-pound state championship to St. Michael-Albertville’s Michael McKee.
McKee won both matches by pins including the state title in 92 seconds. McKee caught Stewart’s arms behind him then flipped the Bengal who did his best to keep his shoulders off the mat.
After the referee tap, signaling a pin, Stewart got up, shook hands with McKee before heading to the STMA coaching staff for a quick handshake. One of the coaches pointed toward the stands where McKee’s father, Steve, stricken with cancer, was seated.
Stewart made his way across the floor for a brief greeting before returning backstage.
Mitchell followed with a big hug for his dad as the crowd stood for a standing ovation.
Stewart finished the season with an impressive 34-4 record after opening state with three convincing wins.
Stewart, ranked sixth in the final state rankings upset third-ranked Mound-Westonka’s Sam Bennyhoff (42-3) in the first round 8-4; No. 5 ranked Collin LaBrosse of Park fell 12-4 in the second round and No. 7 Dylan Sogge of Prior Lake fell 9-2 in the semifinals.
At 220-pounds, Blaine senior Caleb Butler settled for fourth place after an injury kept him away from competing against Cambridge-Isanti’s Kyle Chromy in the third place match. Butler topped Chromy in the section final 5-2, so the anticipated rematch never happened.
At state, Butler, who wrestled with an injured shoulder all season, opened with two falls but felt something bad in his knee just before pinning Little Falls’ Trysten Ross in the second period.
The injury bothered Butler for the rest of Friday and into Saturday morning. In pain, Butler was pinned in the semifinal match against eventual state champion Alex Hart of Prior Lake at 3:24.
“I got ridden out and taken down,” Butler said about the loss.
The loss dropped Butler to the consolation semifinal and after a visit to the trainer to get the knee tapped, he somehow scored a pin against Buffalo’s Adam Treptau in 4:15.
“With will and practicing an ankle-pick,” Butler said, or perhaps it was the Superman socks he wore in the state opener that gave him the will to keep going for the win. “I wasn’t going to pin him if he wasn’t going to move. It was in pain.”
Butler was humble after ending his state tournament with an injury default. He added: “I loved the experience and I’m happy I took fourth.”
Anoka came into state with five wrestlers with a chance to become the Tornadoes 51st state champion in program history.
Although they didn’t add a state champion, the Tornadoes brought home plenty of hardware including a runner-up finish by senior Brandon Krone at 152 pounds.
He was on the losing side of a 2-1 score against Shakopee sophomore Owen Webster in the finals.
Krone was penalized one point for an illegal hold and the second point came on an escape after Krone let him up in the third period with the idea that he could score a take down for the win.
“Gotta listen to Coach [Todd Springer],” Krone said afterwards on the call to go for the win.
Krone opened state with a 7-4 win against his good friend, Jose Rodriguez of Sibley. Krone scored a 2-0 win against Chanhassen’s Brenden Olevson to reach the semifinals and scored his lone pin of the tournament against Northfield’s Carson Canedy at 5:43 to set up an entertaining championship match.
“Started off wrestling my best friend [Rodriguez],” Krone said. “A lot of hard, close matches. Normally I dominate from the top but these guys were pretty sturdy. There was a lot of ride time but not as many turns or craddles that I normally do.”
Krone finished his senior season with a 37-3 record.
“Got a lot of family. Anoka’s a pretty tight knit town and it was nice to have everyone come out to support me,” he said.
Junior Matt Njos dropped two weight classes after a sixth place finish at 182 pounds last year and improved two places to finish fourth at 160 pounds.
Njos was ranked among the best at 160 all season and that continued in state where he lost to Lakeville North’s Lucas Westrich in the second round. Westrich went on to lose the title to Cambridge standout Cody Skog.
Njos dropped in the lower bracket but took his aggression out on the rest of the field winning the next two matches by falls: 2:41 against Minnetonka’s Avery Garski (ranked seventh in the final poll) and Hastings’ Stuart Mattison in 4:23. Njos handed Prior Lake’s Sean O’Neil (No. 3 ranked) a 3-1 defeat to earn his place in the third place match.
Eastview’s Jacob Rukavina handed Njos a 3-1 loss in overtime of their third-place bout. Njos finished his junior campaign with a 40-10 record.
Junior Preston Flaherty lost both matches at 145 pounds to finish his season 13-13. Flaherty opened with a 9-3 loss to Woodbury’s Ben Donnelly and fell to Lakeville South’s Dalton Peterson by fall 55 seconds into the match.
Anoka eighth-grader Tyler Eischens ran into a very tough draw in his first state tournament at 106 pounds. Eischens opened with a 7-6 loss to eventual state runner-up finisher Rylee Molitor of Sartell-St. Stephen. Eischens dropped to the lower bracket where he lost 4-2 to eventual third place champion Kyle Rathman of Apple Valley.
Ninth grader Calvin Germinaro (27-9) lost his only state match by a 6-4 score to St. Cloud Tech’s Austin Brenner.
Corey Parsons came into state as the most successful in Andover history with a real possibility of adding more hardware to his trophy case at 170 pounds.
Parsons closed out his senior season with a 45-4 record and a second consecutive third place medal. Parsons opened with a fall against conference foe Eri Gonzalez of Armstrong in 5:36 and added a 13-1 win against Tyler Vogt of Owatonna to reach the semifinals.
Sibley’s Garrett Beaman scored a 7-5 overtime win to upset Parsons who came into state ranked No. 2 behind eventual champion Mark Hall of Apple Valley.
Beaman and Parsons each came in with physical styles and going into overtime Parsons made the first move but didn’t score the necessary point to end it. Beaman gained control and scored the win with a take down.
Parsons dropped into the consolation semifinals where he scored a 1-0 win against Tartan’s Eli McGeehan. Andover coach Robbie Kriesel said Parsons was conservative in the narrow win, hoping to get one more high school match.
That hope gave way to joy after Parsons controlled the third place match against Hastings’ Dan Marquette, winning by a 5-1 score.
“It wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do,” Kriesel said. “But it was good to see he still had enough to finish strong. He came out with a completely different attitude for the third place match.”
Senior Kiyanu Baker picked up his 30th and 31st wins of the season in four matches at state but came up one match short of placing in his first state trip.
Baker opened with an 11-10 win over Willmar’s Estevan Navarro but lost to eventual 138-pound state runner-up Eden Prairie’s Ben Brancale 13-3. Baker regained his focus and beat Mounds View’s Jack O’Brien 12-4 before a 6-4 overtime loss to Hastings’ Austin Eichmann ended state for Baker.
Junior Tyler Berdahl rallied to win his 182-pound quarterfinal in the final seconds against Northfield’s Sam Minske 5-4.
Earlier in the match, Berdahl vomited on the mat but managed to continue the match. Down 4-3 with nine seconds left, Berdahl sized up Minske and scored a two-point take down just before the final whistle for his 40th win of the season.
Eventual state champion, Apple Valley’s Bobby Steveson, pinned Berdahl at 3:30 in the second round and eventual sixth-place finisher Bryan Tierney of Mound ended Berdahl’s run at state with a fall at 4:08.
Junior Jarod Julkowski opened with a 5-1 win over Alexandria’s Trent Piepenburg at 132 pounds, his 32nd win of the season.
Julkowski lost his next two matches to the fourth and sixth-place winners including a 1-0 loss to White Bear Lake’s Grant Bolduan.
Senior Shad Olson lost to Rosemount’s Payton Otterdahl 3-0 in the 285-pound first round and finished his season 33-10.
Senior heavyweight Adam Blue went 0-2, losing to eventual state champion Prior Lake’s Luis Pinto 1-0. Tartan’s Jason Telin pinned Blue at 2:47 in the consolation quarterfinal to end the Fighting Saints season with an 18-15 record.
Junior Aaron Wilson had a tough draw at 138 pounds. He opened with a 13-0 loss to multiple state champion Maolu Woiwor of Apple Valley. Wayzata’s Nick O’Brien scored a 6-3 win against Wilson to end his season in the consolation quarterfinal.
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