STATE WRESTLING: WHS’s Kinley, all 6 Dragons advance in AA individualsST. PAUL — Joey Kinley is treating Wednesday’s win like just any other. But his two-point victory wasn’t anything like his previous 31.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
ST. PAUL — Joey Kinley is treating Wednesday’s win like just any other.
But his two-point victory wasn’t anything like his previous 31.
Grappling at the Class AA Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center, the Worthington 135-pounder advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-7 victory in overtime.
“I guess it’s a little more important than every other match, but I’m going to treat it just like every other win I’ve had,” Kinley said. “I won’t let it go to my head, I’ll just keep wrestling.”
Again, Kinley made things exciting, a habit that started in his thrilling section semifinal match.
“I guess that’s when I really understand the urgency,” he said. “I just go.”
Qualifying for state for the first time in his career, Kinley had to first calm his nerves.
“I was a little bit nervous, but it wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I just breathed. I took deep breaths.”
Those seemed to calm the wrestler early as he and Scott West’s Tyler Zilverberg wrestled to a scoreless first period.
Zilverberg then struck first, taking a 3-0 lead into the final period.
Kinley scored two quick points on a reversal, and then earned three back points, taking a 5-3 lead.
However, the Scott West wrestler tied the score at 5-all in the final minute.
But with a quick reversal, Kinley took a 7-5 lead with just a few seconds remaining.
Zilverberg answered quickly with two points of his own in the final seconds, sending the match to overtime.
“It depressed me a little bit,” Kinley said of the late points. “But I wanted to win so bad, so I wasn’t going to give up.”
It didn’t take Kinley long to earn the victory. Ten seconds into overtime, he scored a quick takedown to take the 9-7 victory.
“He kept tying up the entire match,” Kinley said. “So I knew he was going to reach, so I ducked it.”
But late-match heroics are nothing new to the junior. In the Section 3AA semifinals, Kinley needed late points to qualify for Wednesday’s state meet.
“That’s one of the biggest differences from Joey this year and last year,” Worthington head coach Mark Prunty said. “He does a really nice job of wrestling smart. It doesn’t matter what the score is, he keeps his head and makes good decisions.”
Kinley was one of three Worthington wrestlers to compete at the state tournament.
Heavyweight Brett Bentele lost to Dassel-Cokato’s Sam Pokornowski by fall in four minutes, 28 seconds.
“It was different wrestling somebody that you don’t know how they wrestle and their style,” Bentele said. “You don’t know if they’re good from the top or bottom or what. It’s so hard to get focused, but other than that, whatever happens, happens.”
At 112 pounds, Joey’s brother, Jared, lost an 8-3 decision to Kasson-Mantorville’s Tony Morrow.
“I think both Jared and Brett had very tough opponents,” Prunty said. “Morrow from Kasson-Mantorville got fourth in the state last year, so not only has he had a good year this year, he’s been here before, so we knew it was going to be a challenging match for Jared.
“(Jared) lost a takedown and was put to his back and got in a position that he probably shouldn’t have been. Then that was a five-point move. If you look at that score, if you take away that five or 10-second period of the match and it would have been a one or two-point match.”
While the Trojans finished 1-2, the Adrian Dragons were putting the finishing touches on a perfect Day 1.
“We couldn’t have wrestled too much better, I don’t think,” Adrian head coach Gregg Nelson said. “We had some close wins, big wins and a default all mixed in there, so we had a little bit of everything (Wednesday). The kids came out and wrestled well.
Starting with 103-pounder Dru Strand and finishing with Dustin Polzine at 215 pounds, all six Dragons advanced to the second round.
“I was a little nervous,” Strand said. “It was a bigger crowd than back at home in Adrian. I was a little nervous. You look up in the stands and see all the people cheering. Even if they’re not cheering for you, it gets loud and crazy.”
The first Dragon on the mat, Strand gave Adrian the good start it needed.
“It’s state, so you just go out there and give everything you got,” Strand said. “You can’t hold back now. It’s state, this the last place you can make it. So you go out there and try your best and get it done.”
The Adrian junior came out and earned the first two points of the match.
“I just kind of put it together and was smart,” Strand said. “For me, it’s huge to get the first points right away, then I can get ahead and get going right away to get that confidence boost. I just went out there, got ahead, got that big confidence boost and kept it up the rest of the match.”
Milaca/Faith Christian’s Joey Curtis tied the score in the second period, but Strand scored a point in the third for the 3-2 victory.
“It feels great to get that first win up at state because not very many people make it here from your town,” Strand said. “You get that picture up on the wall at school. It just feels great.”
Dragon Nate Lynn (112) earned a fall in 1:33, while Jake Dorn (125) needed overtime to claim a 3-2 decision.
Luke Tiesler scored points late to earn a 5-3 decision at 140, while teammate Stephen Loosbrock (171) won by an 8-5 decision. Polzine rounded out the Dragons’ perfect day with a victory by default.
Windom/Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin’s Drake Borsgard (119) won a 3-2 decision, while Cobra Tim Larson (140) lost by fall.
W/ML/B-O’s Billy Hochstein earned a narrow 1-0 win at 152 with an escape late in the match, while Jared Peterson (160) lost a 10-1 decision to second-ranked John Nething (42-1) of New London-Spicer. Spencer Johnson advanced to the second round of the 189-pound tournament with a 10-0 victory.
Fulda/Murray County Central’s Austin Kluis (119) suffered a 6-4 loss and teammate Travis Radke was defeated by undefeated Colton Thorson of Fergus Falls.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Zach Campbell earned a 9-5 victory at 130, while Noah VanNevel (171) suffered a loss in the first round.
The semifinal and the wrestlebacks will both be today.