State wrestling: Three area wrestlers crowned in Class A
ST. PAUL — There were just six seconds between him and a silver medal at the state wrestling tournament, but Adrian sophomore Skylar Hieronimus wouldn’t let it happen.
With one more desperation shot to take, Hieronimus found the right combination to pick up a state championship in Class A at 106 pounds.
Hieronimus’ 2-1 decision in the closing seconds of his bout with Minneota/Lincoln-HI’s Brock Buysse made him the first of three area wrestlers who were named state champions in Class A at Saturday’s state wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. Jackson County Central’s Keegan Moore and Wabasso/Red Rock Central’s Alex Schroepfer were the others.
“In all the times I’ve wrestled him, I’ve never taken him down in the first period,” Hieronimus said of Buysse, a familiar opponent of his. “It has always come down to the last 10 seconds like that. I just kept moving and knew it wasn’t over with six seconds left. I was determined to win.”
Buysse scored on an escape midway through the third period for a one-point lead. A takedown in the last two seconds of the match is what won this one for Hieronimus.
Buysse had defeated Hieronimus recently, 4-3, in the Section 3A team tournament but Hieronimus returned the favor in the individual tournament, winning 4-1. A state championship is a nice rebound for Hieronimus after coming up empty in a trip to state a year ago, he said.
“I was determined to at least place this year,” Hieronimus said. “I felt really good going into the match and I felt like I had done what I needed to do to prepare myself for the whole six minutes.”
For Adrian head coach Gregg Nelson, it was a fulfilling moment to sit back and watch Hieronimus in the final match of his sophomore season. What was more fulfilling for Nelson was seeing how Hieronimus got the job done.
“That’s why you wrestle the whole six minutes,” Adrian head coach Gregg Nelson said. “He had a decent shot, did a nice peak out and scored with two seconds left. No matter what I would have been proud of him, but for him to go the full six minutes is fun.
“Kids like this do most of that on their own, but that’s why we coach,” Nelson said. “To help him get there is the rewarding part.”
Keegan Moore technical falls for state crown
Jackson County Central sophomore Keegan Moore didn’t know very much about Minnewaska senior Ryan Stottler prior to their championship match. But it turns out he didn’t need to.
Reliably sticking to what he does best, focusing on what he needed to do, Moore tore to an early 8-3 lead in his match en route to a 22-7 technical fall for his first state championship.
“About 10 minutes before my match, they told me he was from Minnewaska,” Moore said. “I try not to focus on who I’m wrestling next a whole lot. I just know I want to go and give the guy a hard time and give him a lot to handle.”
Already leading 13-6, Moore scored a takedown and three-point near fall in the third period. It was a five-point move on Stottler that was too insurmountable to take away.
“He felt strong and for some reason strong kids are easy to move for me,” Moore said.
Coming from a long line of wrestlers, including his older brother Cooper who is at the University of Northern Iowa as a wrestler and his older brother Paden who finished in third place in this year’s state tournament at 152 pounds, a state championship is truly something Keegan Moore has wanted for a long time.
“I’ve wanted this since I was in youth wrestling,” he said. “It just feels like an accomplish. Emotions are going crazy right now.”
While Jackson County Central head coach Randy Baker said he has a wrestling room full of hard workers, Keegan Moore’s competitiveness and drive to succeed are intangibles that few kids he has ever coached have possessed. Moore led the Huskies this season with 36 pins and finishes at a spotless 47-0 record.
“He pinned six kids and tech falled the other one up here (between the team and individual tournaments),” Baker said of Moore. “He’ll be a tough out the next few years. He works pretty hard and looked pretty dominant up here.
“When he’s out there, he raises his level however high he needs to go to get it. He doesn’t like to lose and he gets mad when he’s taken down to practice,” Baker added. “Sometimes people see him as cocky or as not a good sport, but if you know him and understand him, you’ll see that he’s just really competitive and that he wants to win. My hat is off to him for winning the state tournament and going undefeated. That hasn’t been done here for awhile.”
Schroepfer finishes weighty season with gold
Wabasso/Red Rock Central senior Alex Schroepfer topped off a stellar season with his first state championship.
Schroepfer, a heavyweight, came into the state tournament as his bracket’s only unbeaten wrestler, at 37-0. In the first round he needed just 32 seconds to stick Wabasha-Kellogg senior Mike Schively to move along to the semifinal round. Saturday morning, Schroepfer beat Frazee junior Garrett Malstrom in 2:16 to make the finals.
In his championship, Schroepfer stepped into territory he has rarely needed, as he went the full six minutes for a 9-5 decision that outlasted United North Central senior Taylor Carlson. It was just the second time this season, according to his coaches, that Schroepfer has not ended a match early due to technical fall or pin.
“He got out to a big lead and wrestled smart from then on,” Wabasso/Red Rock Central co-head coach Gary Hindt said of his heavyweight. “You take what you get. He hasn’t been on that third period road very much. He did it right, got the takedown in the third period and that kind of put the kibosh on her.”
Disappointed slightly that he wasn’t able to take care of a takedown and possible pin early, Schroepfer couldn’t help being pleased with the outcome.
“My season started out well and it just kept on going from there. I pinned all of my guys throughout the season except for one,” he said. “I just wanted to go hard right away to see if I could catch him on his back, but I didn’t. I got five points so I took what I could get and I ended up winning it.”
Alex Schroepfer’s cousin, Jordan Schroepfer, reached the state tournament but lost two matches at 170 pounds to end his season.
Jenniges and Johnson one step away in Class A
Losing is certainly difficult to come to terms with when you’re one step away from the prize, but you can say that you were better than the rest in your class, except one. When put in proper perspective, that is also something to celebrate.
That’s the outlook Windom/Mountain Lake senior Vince Johnson seemed to take after losing an 11-3 major decision to nationally-ranked and three-time state champion Nathan Rose from Sibley East.
Rose finished a 45-1 season his win and dropped Johnson to 27-6. It was Johnson’s third and final time at state. His silver finish was his first state medal.
“I wanted to slow him down and take his double away. I was able to take his double away but he ended up having a nice little single that I didn’t know he had,” Johnson said. “He exposed that pretty well and had a few takedowns with it. I was happy with how my season ended.
“I came in knowing I was an underdog. I worked my best to get to the finals,” Johnson said. “I was really happy with that part.”
Battling an injury in mid-January that set Johnson back four weeks, Cobras co-head coach Nick Kulseth was proud of his 195-pounder after the finals.
“We stuck to the game plan, slowed him down and fought hard against the fourth-ranked kid in the nation,” Kulseth said of Johnson’s match. “Vince has great personality and is a great kid. He has been great to work with. I’m proud of him.”
Spencer Jenniges, after taking a 9-1 decision at 120 pounds in the opening round against Breckenridge/C-Tintah’s Conrad Kondos, shutout Pierz senior Brandon Sullivan in a 6-0 decision to reach the semifinals, where he beat Long Prairie-Grey Eagle sophomore Miguel Ambriz, 5-3. In the final match, Border West junior Cameron Sykora handed Jenniges his first loss, a pin in 5:40. It ensured Sykora a perfect 33-0 season and put Jenniges’ season at a 39-1 tally.