State wrestling: Moore, Willaby and Slater place third in St. Paul
ST. PAUL — The goal for any wrestler is to reach the state tournament and win three matches there. If those goals are not met it is considered a disappointment. That is in part how the Jackson County Central Huskies may feel following their three-day stint at state.
Taking a strong seven wrestlers to St. Paul for Friday and Saturday’s individual state tournament, JCC saw four wrestlers earn medals, but only sophomore Keegan Moore got the one he wanted. Junior 152-pounder Paden Moore placed third, junior Luke Norland claimed fourth at 160 and senior Jordan Biehn took fifth at 126.
“I don’t think we’re real happy with the individual things but at the same time it’s a tough tournament. I think this reminds the kids a little bit of why we work really hard during the year,” JCC head coach Randy Baker said. “Kids like Paden and Luke want to come up here and win it.”
Paden Moore placed second a year ago and it was Norland’s third state tournament appearance this year.
“Losing is very hard to take. It’s very hard to realize you’re not going to be in the state finals,” Paden Moore said of his semifinal loss. “It was very hard for me because I had beaten the two state finalists before. I just wrestled on anger in the third-place match. I went out and wrestled hard. That’s all I could do.”
JCC additionally qualified eighth-grader Dalton Wagner at 106 pounds, freshman Ryker VanderWoude at 120 and junior Nathan Horn at 285. Wagner bowed out of the tournament after losing in the quarterfinals and losing a first-round consolation match, VanderWoude was one and done and Horn lost two matches.
“I’m really disappointed. Whenever you don’t reach your goal it just sucks,” Norland said. “I know the guys that medaled really hoped they would’ve gotten higher medals. But I also think we have some guys who didn’t medal that have the ability to medal. I want to see them succeed too.”
Cobras’ Willaby escapes in overtime
A semifinal loss to top-seeded Quinten Berres of Kimball Area wasn’t enough to keep Windom/Mountain Lake 132-pounder Jared Willaby down.
Battling to back-to-back wins after the setback, Willaby took third place as a junior and finishes the season 38-4.
In four overtimes in his third-place match, Willaby got the job done for a 2-1 decision over Crookston junior Cody Weiland. An escape won the match.
“At the state tournament it’s do or die,” Willaby said. “Losses are part of it and you have to battle through those.”
Based on what he had seen throughout his match, Willaby knew that when the time came for the fourth overtime, he would choose to start it in the down position and look for an escape. It worked perfecctly.
“I had a feeling with going down and getting the escape,” Willaby said. “It was a pretty good match. He’s a pretty stocky kid and he defended me well.”
Also for the Cobras, junior 113-pounder Wyatt Stevens lost a chance at a wrestleback to end his season at 33-9 and junior Joe Fischenich finished his season in the same fashion.
“We came out with four guys and felt all four could have chances to be on the podium, but two had really tough draws and went one and out,” Cobras co-head coach Travis Elg said. “Willaby was one move away from the finals. It was a pretty exciting round of wrestling because we had multiple guys in the semifinals with multiple chances to win.”
Slater helps lead Adrian with third place
Jesse Slater, a junior from Adrian, was one of two medalists the Dragons had at state. The other was state champion Skylar Hieronimus.
Slater, wrestling at 170 pounds, entered the state tournament and won an 8-2 decision over Sid Scott of Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in the first round but fell to JCC’s Keegan Moore in the quarterfinals in 48 seconds.
“I knew Keegan was pretty good on his feet and that he had a lot of power to his body,” Slater said. “He doesn’t mess around. I got beat right away.”
Trailing in his third-place match against Blackduck/Cass Lake’s Devin Staples, 2-1 after the second period, an escape broke a 6-6 deadlock with mere seconds left to give Slater a hard-earned bronze medal with an 8-5 decision.
“I just had to come back and get third. There wasn’t anything you could do about it,” Slater said. “It was a really fun weekend for the team.”
Michael Preuss and Tony Lynn were state qualifiers for the Dragons but did not place.
Suda, Bos place fifth for Pipestone Area
With a pair of fifth place medals to carry home, the Pipestone Area Arrows have plenty to build on for next season, especially with a young talent in eighth-grader Michael Suda. Brady Bos, a senior, also finished fifth.
Suda beat Osakis junior Trenton Coyer for fifth place by a 10-3 decision. Bos fell into the fifth-place match where he won an exciting 8-7 decision. Will Smith qualified for the state meet but did not medal.
“Obviously the expectations were there and the kids would’ve liked to place higher, but coming home with two fifth-place medals, the kids are happy,” Pipestone Area head coach Brian Bos said. “Michael is already excited for next year, Brady is happy to be done but is happy with how he placed and Will is already looking at his matches from last week and critiquing them. It was a good weekend.”