PREP WRESTLING: Moore brothers hoping to lead JCC to glory at the state tournamentWORTHINGTON — Cooper Moore has plenty of state experience under his belt. In his sixth season as a member of the Jackson County Central wrestling team, Moore has been to the state tournament four times as an individual and has helped his team win the Class A title three times.
WORTHINGTON — Cooper Moore has plenty of state experience under his belt.
In his sixth season as a member of the Jackson County Central wrestling team, Moore has been to the state tournament four times as an individual and has helped his team win the Class A title three times.
But this year, Moore will have a brand new experience at state. This year he will get to compete in the individual tournament alongside his two younger brothers, Paden and Keegan.
“It is very exciting that all of us made it,” Cooper said. “I have been giving them nonstop tips. At practice, at home, everywhere. It never ends. I want them to have a great experience and go in as prepared as possible.”
In his individual state tournament experience, Cooper, now a senior, placed fourth his freshman year and won the title his sophomore season.
Paden, who is a freshman, qualified last season, but said he received a “tough draw” and didn’t place. This will be Keegan’s, an eighth-grader, first time as an individual tournament qualifier.
“It is very special,” Paden said. “You don’t always have the chance to do something like this with your brothers. It’s a really special feeling. I’m sure it’s something we’ll cherish forever, especially since it will be the one time we get to do it since Cooper is graduating this year. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
All three of the Moore brothers are entering the state tournament ranked in the top-10 in the state in their respective weight classes.
Keegan is ranked sixth at 138 pounds, Paden is seventh at 145 pounds and Cooper is the top-ranked wrestler in Class A at 170 pounds.
And while the three Moore brothers are humble and modest, they have just the right amount of confidence entering the tournament — quick to reference their sibling’s talents before they speak of their own.
“It’s a good feeling having them right there next to me,” Keegan said. “I think we have a good chance of doing well too. Both of my brothers are capable of winning the championship. Cooper most definitely can win. He is at a level that no one else can come close to. And if Paden is at his best, he has a good shot too. I am happy we all get to try to win an individual title together.”
WHS’s Poppema, T-M-B/W-WG’s Schmidt go from state spectators to qualifiers
There are plenty of wrestlers in this year’s individual state tournament who have never competed in the season’s final tournament before.
However, there are several who have trained with former individual qualifiers.
One is Worthington’s own Matt Poppema.
Poppema is in his senior season and heading to state for the first time in his career. But he credits much of his success this season to the fact that he trained with Jared Kinley for much of the season.
Kinley qualified for state last year at 119 pounds. This year, the two have been training partners during Worthington’s practices.
“I probably couldn’t have done this without Jared Kinley,” Poppema, a 145-pounder, said. “I’ve been practicing with him a lot and he’s been right beside me this whole process. He taught me a few moves and is just as much responsible for getting me here as anybody else is. I owe him big time.”
Kinley didn’t qualify for the state tournament this year.
Another wrestler who credits a teammate for his recent success is Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Brad Schmidt.
The 195-pounder went to the state tournament last year even though he didn’t qualify. He went, instead, as the training partner of TMB/WWG’s Matt Wakefield, who ended up finishing sixth in the state at 215 pounds last season.
“My best friend made it to state last year and he was my practice partner all year long last year,” Schmidt said. “He’s come back to help me practice some this year too. I got to work out with him up at state last year. It was an amazing feeling being there and I just wanted to have that feeling again and experience everything for myself. And that was a big motivator for me coming in this year.”
Schmidt won the 195 pound Section 3AA title last weekend after pinning Adrian’s Adam Garms at the 1:16 mark of the championship bout. The TMB/WWG wrestler is entering the state tournament with a No. 10 ranking in his weight class.
And Schmidt’s goal entering the final tournament of the year is to place. And with a top-10 ranking, he hopes that goal is within reach.
“It’s amazing, I’m just so happy,” Schmidt said. “I’m very emotional, it’s probably the most emotional I’ve ever been in my life. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to have this experience for myself this year.”
The individual state tournament for each Class A, AA and AAA begins Friday morning and concludes with the championship matches at 7:30 p.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Saturday.
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.