Pressure can be a debilitating thing, but the Jackson County Central Huskies keep reaching for the brass ring and grabbing it. Coach Randy Baker’s wrestlers grabbed it again Saturday, first beating New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 49-21, then Blue Earth Area 44-31 in the Section 2A tourney to qualify for yet another Minnesota state Class A team tournament. The Huskies, who graduated eight seniors from their 2013 state championship team, have won four consecutive state titles. They may or may not make it five when they compete this year at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, but one thing is for certain — they’ll be there.
“The kids were ready to go. The kids wrestled really well,” said Baker about the Section 2A tilt.
It’s already been an intriguing season for JCC, which was ranked No. 1 in the state until it sustained a 37-31 loss to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial on Jan. 21. Three days later the Huskies lost 35-28 to Adrian. But fans who thought they saw a chink in the Huskies’ armor only really saw a couple of flesh wounds. Senior 170/182-pounder Chris Baker was missing in the LC-WM match due to an ankle sprain, and despite their loss to Adrian the Huskies split seven victories with the Dragons in that match. Coach Baker now says his team is at full strength.
It showed on Saturday. JCC won nine of the first 10 individual matchups against NRHEG in the semifinals and in the finals won the first four and eight overall.
BEA defeated United South Central 58-15 in its semifinal match.
The Buccaneeers, in an attempt to increase its chances of winning at least one of the first three matches against JCC, moved Zach Buseman to 120 pounds. According to coach Baker’s reasoning, BEA wanted to avoid Buseman having to wrestle the Huskies Dalton Wagner (who has been “coming on,” in Baker’s words) at 113. But Wagner pinned the Bucs’ Cole Klinker at 113 pounds and at 120 JCC’s Ryker VanderWoude pinned Buseman in just 49 seconds.
“That helped us. That gave us momentum early,” Baker said.
At 126, JCC’s Jordan Biehn won by fall over Blue Earth Area’s Camden Bowers. Blue Earth Area won the next three matches, but JCC’s Paden Moore (152), Luke Norland (160), Keegan Moore (182) and Justin Tirevold (220) defeated their opponents to help secure the state tourney berth. All four won convincingly — Paden Moore, Norland and Tirevold by falls and Keegan Moore by technical fall.
On Tuesday morning, officials will seed the state tournament teams for first-round matchups. Coach Baker said the Huskies will be traveling to St. Paul with the goal of winning another championship.
“We’re certainly going to try,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of those teams. Anything can happen. There’s a good field of Class A teams. There are any number of teams that can win it, but we certainly have the veterans.”
JCC has one more big pre-state match ahead, and that’s the section individual tournament scheduled for Saturday at Blue Earth. Many Huskies will bring outstanding personal records with them in their attempt to gain individual state berths. Wagner is 28-10. Biehn is 34-4, Paden Moore is 36-3, Norland 36-3 and Keegan Moore 38-0.
JCC 49, NRHEG 21
106: Tvinnereim (JCC) MD Butler 13-3; 113: Wagner (JCC) dec. Kubiatowicz 12-7; 120: Peterson (NRHEG) pin VanderWoude 0:52; 126: Biehn (JCC) pin P.Peterson 1:34; 132: Rossow (JCC) dec. Merritt 9-4; 138: T.Peterson (JCC) pin Sletten 3:52; 145: Pygman (JCC) dec. Wayne 8-5; 152: P.Moore (JCC) pin Logan 5:05; 160: Norland (JCC) pin Hoppe 0:57; 170: K.Moore (JCC) pin Parpart 0:25; 182: Bartness (NREHG) dec. Baker 8-5; 195: Ziemer (JCC) pin Jensen 2:37; 220: Z.Erickson (NRHEG) pin Schmit 1:32; HWT: T.Erickson (NRHEG) pin Horn 1:59.
JCC 44, Blue Earth Area 31
106: Tvinnereim (JCC) dec. Legred 6-0; 113: Wagner (JCC) pin Klinker 3:15; 120: VanderWoude (JCC) pin Buseman 0:49; 126: Biehn (JCC) pin Bowers 1:36; 132: Huber (BEA) pin Rossow 3:36; 138: Stelter (BEA) pin T.Peterson 1:27; 145: Ankeny (BEA) pin Pygman 2:19; 152: P.Moore (JCC) pin Schavey 4:29; 160: Norland (JCC) pin Phillips 3:26; 170: Franta (BEA) MD Baker 21-13; 182: K.Moore (JCC) TF Gorg 4:02; 195: Johnson (BEA) dec. Ziemer 8-3; 220: Tirevold (JCC) pin Armon 2:52; HWT: Granados (BEA) pin Horn 2:36.