Anoka’s Tyler Eischens has no shortage of experience at the Minnesota Class AAA state wrestling tournament. He has no shortage of motivation either. After back-to-back second place finishes, the junior enters this weekend’s tournament 42-0 and the No. 1 seed at 138 pounds.
It’ll be a busy weekend for Eischens. The Tornadoes qualified for the team state tournament on March 2 and hope to improve on their third place finish last year. Anoka is seeded No. 2 with a 23-2 dual record.
The individual tournament follows on March 3 and 4 at the Xcel Energy Center, a place Eischens is familiar with.
He made state as an eighth-grader at 106 pounds, but did not place. He wrestled in the 113-pound championship match as a freshman and 126-pound championship match last year as a sophomore, but fell short.
Now wrestling at 138 pounds, Eischens hasn’t forgotten that taste of defeat.
“I’ve gotten a lot of put-downs because of it,” he said. “It just pushed me to work harder and train more intense to get to that extra level.”
The wrestling season is a grueling one, but Eischens said he feels he has made even more progress from the beginning of the season to now. Confidence is on his side, especially because he is familiar with the 138-pound field and his success against those wrestlers.
Also on his side is experience and familiarity with the Xcel Energy Center. Perhaps wide-eyed as an eighth grader, Eischens is entering his fourth state tournament. Little things such as not getting distracted by the packed lower-level stands or knowing where to go in between matches is an advantage.
And once the individual tournament begins, Eischens has seven other teammates wrestling for the top spot in the state in their respective weight classes.
“It’s always fun considering you can be down there and warm up with your teammates instead of a random kid from another team,” Eischens said. “You still have the whole team aspect and you know they’re going to be there after your match, win or loss.”
Eischens lost 7-3 last year in the championship match and 7-5 in 2015. He said his biggest takeaway from those two matches is not to let the moment be bigger than it has to. And with an undefeated record and No. 1 ranking heading in, he also noted the importance of not looking too far ahead.
“You just have to take it match by match,” Eischens said. “You can’t underestimate anyone or count anyone out. Everybody made it to state there, so they are obviously going to be good. There’s not going to be a bad match and you’re just going to have go out there and wrestle your best and hopefully you’re better than them that day.”
Area wrestlers qualified for state
Section 7AAA is one of the toughest sections in Minnesota and holds several area teams. Anoka and St. Francis are both ranked programs. The stacked section advances the top two finishers per weight class to state.
Below are ABC coverage wrestlers who qualified:
106 pounds: Jon Swobodny, Coon Rapids (2nd)
113: Tanner Kunshier, St. Francis (1st)
120: Colby Njos, Anoka (1st) and Coleton Pertucci, St. Francis (2nd)
126: Dylan Droegemueller, Anoka (1st)
132: Mitchell Wilson, St. Francis (1st) and Scott Springer, Anoka (2nd)
138 pounds: Tyler Eischens, Anoka (1st) and Mason Hall, St. Francis (2nd)
145: Teddy Pierce, St. Francis (1st)
160: Calvin Germinaro-Nahring, Anoka (1st) and Tony Struntz, St. Francis (2nd)
170: Cole Kirpach, St. Francis (2nd)
182: Dalton Miller, Anoka (1st) and Tyler Dahlstrom, St. Francis (2nd)
195: Ben Lathrop, Anoka (1st) and Jack Scheck, Coon Rapids (2nd)
285: Brandon Frankfurth, Anoka (1st) and Tim Mandyck, Coon Rapids (2nd)