TROJAN WRESTLING: Luft brings home state title
ST. PAUL -- Hollywood could not have written a better ending for Worthington's Anthony Luft.
Luft won the MSHSL Class AA Individual Wrestling State Tournament's 120-pound championship with an improbable 7-5 victory in triple overtime against Foley's Tyler Funk on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
After Funk scored the first five points of the match, Luft rallied during the final 2 minutes of regulation to force a 5-all tie and extra time.
"He wanted the match to stay up on our feet because he kept trying to do a 2-on-1 tie-up," Luft said of Funk's strategy. "I just kept focusing on his head and I got (a shot) in on a single, but he did a move that I'd never seen before and that was how he got me on my back for the five points."
Luft said he listened to his coaches -- Worthington head coach Mark Prunty and assistant coach Mike Luft.
"The coaches told me to keep my focus and to keep wrestling," Anthony Luft said of his third-period uprising. "I knew I had to just keep going at it."
In the third period, Luft took down Funk to trim the margin to 5-2 before an escape by the Worthington wrestler made for a two-point difference.
Trailing 5-3 as 4 seconds remained in regulation, Luft controlled Funk in his grasp and narrowly held him in-bounds to earn the takedown he needed to knot the bout and sent it into extra time.
Two overtime periods went by without any scoring before Luft took a 7-5 lead in the third overtime with a move he didn't expect to use.
"In overtime, I couldn't get out from him," Luft said. "But I've been practicing all season a move called a 'salute.' Even though it was what I used to put him on his back and I've used this move throughout the year, I never thought I would use it here."
Prunty said the comeback was possible because Luft stayed patient.
"He lost five points at the start and our biggest fear, as a coaching staff, was that Anthony would try to make up those five points all on one move because that would be an easy thing to do," Prunty said. "We were really proud of him because he stayed calm, worked his way back into the match one point at a time and that allowed him to take it into overtime."
Luft, a junior, said winning his first state title fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams.
"I have dreamt about this moment every night and, if it happened, what it might be like," said Luft. "This is all I have ever wrestled for because it's the ultimate goal."
Luft became Worthington's first wrestling state champion since Bryan Cowdin captured the Class AAA 171-pound crown in 2001.
Luft placed at the state tournament for the second straight year. Coincidentally, he finished fifth at 106 pounds by defeating Funk 4-2 in three overtimes in 2012.
A semifinal pin against Fergus Falls' Tyler Giza after 5 minutes, 10 seconds advanced Luft to the title bout.
Hagen ends up fourth
Worthington's Carson Hagen, ranked 10th at 195 pounds entering the Class AA state tournament, finished fourth after dropping a 2-1 decision to Mankato West's Tyler Jakes on Saturday.
Hagen, a sophomore who completed a 35-9 season, led the third-place match 1-0 on an escape but could not hold his slim advantage.
Jakes tied the bout with an escape before Hagen was whistled for stalling, which became the difference in the match.
"I lost to (Jakes) either 9-2 or 9-3 earlier this season and I came into this match thinking that I had nothing to lose whether I got third or fourth," Hagen said. "I just really wanted to do better than I did last time."
Hagen is excited to begin training again.
"This puts a lot of hunger inside of me to get better for next year," Hagen said. "I just have to lift a lot of weights, work out all summer and try to get bigger."
Prunty believes the future is bright for Hagen.
"Carson is going to be a force to be reckoned with for two more years," Prunty said. "He started wrestling well at the right time of the season because he started believing that he belongs (at the state tournament). His confidence makes me excited to see what next year will bring, for him for obvious reasons. It could open up the gates for him to be more aggressive and powerful. I'm not sure if he realizes how strong he really is and he will be able to use that to his advantage."
Hagen advanced to the third-place match by defeating Foley's Mitch Struffert 3-2.
More Class AA wrestlers
Adrian wrestlers Tony Lynn (126) and Jesse Slater (170) and Fulda/Murray County Central's Ben Loosbrock (160) all were eliminated in the consolation quarterfinals Saturday morning.
Lynn lost 5-0 to Foley's Tristain Manderfield, while Slater was pinned by Totino Grace's Isaac Florell in 4:30. Loosbrock was blanked 4-0 by Scott West's Andrew Fogarty.
106: Gabe Shea (Kasson-Mantorville) decision Skylar Hieronimus (Adrian Area), 8-0.
113: Jakob Stageberg (New London-Spicer) pin Ryan Elias (Adrian Area), 3:59.
120: Griffin Parriott (New Prague) decision Jaydan Bullerman (Adrian Area), 1-0.
120: Anthony Luft (Worthington) major decision Dylan Wolff (Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton), 14-2.
126: Tony Lynn (Adrian Area) decision Colin Ayers (Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton), 6-4.
145: Mack Short (Simley) decision Eli Dooyema (Luverne), 12-5.
152: Nathanael Holecek (Thief River Falls/Goordich) decision Matthew Slater (Adrian Area), 7-2
160: Wayne Voss (Simley) decision Ben Loosbrock (Fulda/Murray County Central), 7-3
170: Jesse Slater (Adrian Area) decision Antonio Wagener (St. Paul Harding), 10-5.
195: Carson Hagen (Worthington) decision Chandler Arredondo (Richfield), 4-0.
220: Clay Broze (Cannon Falls) major decision D.J. Reker (Luverne), 17-5.
120: Anthony Luft (Worthington) technical fall Timmy Bialka (Princeton), 16-1
126: Ty Griffin (Rockford) decision Tony Lynn (Adrian Area), 6-4
170: Corben Hansen (Kasson-Mantorville) decision Jesse Slater (Adrian Area), 7-0.
195: Carson Hagen (Worthington) decision Josh Edlund (Crookston), 4-3, 3OT
Consolation First Round
106: Jake Allar (Benilde-St. Margarets) decision Skylar Hieronimus (Adrian Area), 10-8. Skylar Hieronimus eliminated.
113: Ryan Elias (Adrian Area) eliminated by Jakob Stageberg (New London-Spicer) loss in championship quarterfinals.
120: Jaydan Bullerman (Adrian Area) eliminated by Griffin Parriott (New Prague) loss in championship quarterfinals.
126: Tony Lynn (Adrian Area) decision Noah Bernier (Thief River Falls/Goodrich), 8-2.
145: Jordan Hanan (Annadale/Maple Lake) pin Eli Dooyema (Luverne), 2:21. Eli Dooyema eliminated.
152: Morgan Parriott (New Prague) decision Matthew Slater (Adrian Area), 1-0. Matthew Slater eliminated.
160: Ben Loosbrock (Fulda/Murray County Central) decision Blake Bergeron (Crookston), 6-2.
170: Jesse Slater (Adrian Area) decision William Parks (Perham), 3-0.
220: Cody Nylander (Perham) decision D.J. Reker (Luverne), 5-2. D.J. Recker eliminated.
120: Anthony Luft (Worthington) pin Tyler Giza (Fergus Falls), 5:10.
195: Brock Berge (Kasson-Mantorville) pin Carson Hagen (Worthington), 1:56.
126: Zach Siegle (Scott West) decision Tony Lynn (Adrian Area), 7-0. Tony Lynn eliminated
160: Andrew Fogarty (Scott West) decision Ben Loosbrock (Fulda/Murray County Central), 4-0. Ben Loosbrock eliminated.
170: Isaac Florell (Totino Grace) pin Jesse Slater (Adrian Area), 4:30. Jesse Slater eliminated.
195: Carson Hagen (Worthington) decision Mitch Stuffert (Foley), 3-2.
195: Tyler Jakes (Mankato West) decision Carson Hagen (Worthington), 2-1.
120: Anthony Luft (Worthington) decision Tyler Funk (Foley), 7-5, 3OT