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Huskies, Cobras set for state team competition, early-round individual matches start today

ST. PAUL -- The countless hours of mat time, weight room training and dietary discipline are about to pay off, as area grapplers take to the mats for the Minnesota State High School wrestling tournament today through March 1 at the Xcel Energy Center.

This year's schedule starts with the Class A individual preliminaries at 4 p.m. today, followed by the Class AA individual preliminaries at 6 p.m.

Thursday morning, the Class A individual championship quarterfinals will begin at 9 a.m. The Class AA and Class AAA individual championship quarterfinals will follow at 10 and 11 a.m. The evening session on Thursday will include the team quarterfinals for all classes. That session starts at 5 p.m.

The Jackson County Central Huskies will represent the area in the Class A team tournament, while in Class AA, the Cobras of Windom/Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin take to the mats.

The Huskies (23-6), seeded No. 1 in the final rankings by The Guillotine, will square off against the No. 5 Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights (25-2) in the Class A team quarterfinals.

The Huskies had the makings of a state titlist last year, but were edged, 34-33, by eventual champion Perham in the quarterfinals. The loss prompted the Huskies to rededicate themselves this season with one goal in mind -- a state team championship.

"It was a tough loss for us last year," JCC head coach Randy Baker said. "We had a tough run through the sectionals just to get there, and we might not have been prepared as well as

we should have been.

"Our focus this season has been on the team and reaching the finals," Baker added. "Our goal is to win a state team title and have five individual place-winners."

The Huskies have rolled through the regular season, winning the prestigious Rumble on the Red tournament and placing second at the Clash. In the Section 2A tournament, the Huskies gave up no more than nine points in their three matches, en route to a section championship.

Solid in every weight class, the Huskies are certainly the favored Class A team in St. Paul.

The Cobras, on the other hand, might be thought of as a Cinderella team.

An extremely young club, the Cobras surprised a few ardent wrestling fans with their 32-31 victory over defending Section 3AA champion Adrian. But the victory was no surprise to W/ML/B-O head coach Dave Elg.

"I knew we could wrestle with them and had a good shot at winning the section title," Elg said. "We have a very dedicated group of young men in our wrestling room. They work hard on and off the mat and are gaining confidence with each match."

The Cobras (22-5), seeded No. 9, will face the No. 2 Simley Spartans (28-2) in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.

Individually, the area will be well represented in both Class A and AA.

Class A

JCC's Bronson Stueber (37-5) is looking to bring home gold in the Class A 103-pouund division. Stueber will square off against Justin Meyer (25-6) from Pelican Rapids in his opening-round match.

Also in this weight class, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove's Ryan Schroefper (29-9) faces Garret Hoffner (25-12) of Mahnomen/Waubun.

The Huskies' Taylor Menke (28-10) is ready to make his bid for an individual title at 125 pounds. Menke will tangle with Aitkin's Dalton Stevens (32-7) in the opening round.

At 130 pounds, the Huskies' Cole Von Ohlen (40-1) looks for his second consecutive title after winning the 119-pound championship last year. Von Ohlen will take on Benson's Ryan Thompson (31-1) in opening-round action.

After winning the 130-pound title two years ago, JCC's Torey Stewart lost a heartbreaker last year in the 135-pound finals. Stewart (38-3) is bent on returning to the top of the podium this year as a 145-pounder. Stewart will begin his bid for another championship with an opening-round match against Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg's Aaron Zimmer (31-14).

The defending titlist at 160 pounds, JCC's Travis Rutt looks to cap a tremendous season --which saw the 171-pounder set the Minnesota State match-victories record -- with another individual state title. Rutt (41-1) will battle Kimball Area's Luke Schiefelbein (28-5) in the first round.

At 189 pounds, the Huskies will pit Caleb Lines (40-3) against Pierz's Alex Huls (33-7) in an opening-round match.

The Huskies' final individual entrant is Joe Skow (28-13). The senior 215-pounder will square off against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Justin Johnson (34-1) in his opener.

Class AA

W/ML/B-O's Drake Borsgard (37-5) will represent the area at 103 pounds. The eighth-grader will battle Scott West's Lee Goldberg (35-8) in the opening round of matches.

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton's Zach Campbell (fifth last year at 103) will make his second consecutive appearance in St. Paul. The freshman 112-pounder will face Totino Grace's Cody Lensing (38-2) to open the tournament.

T-M-B teammate Erik Cooreman (15-6) will open his run against New London-Spicer's Chad Henle (34-1) in the 119-pound division. Also in this weight class is W/ML/B-O's Josh Falk (36-6). The Cobra sophomore will have a tough road ahead, as he drew GM/LO/K's Luke Schlee (25-0) in the opening round.

At 125 pounds, Fulda/Murray County Central's Justin Reinsma returns after placing fifth at 119. Reinsma (38-4) opens his tournament against Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus' Zach Humphrey (15-17).

Second to Reinsma in Section 3AA, Adrian's Luke Tiesler (25-10) faces New London-Spicer's Shawn Hatlestad (30-6) in the opening round.

W/ML/B-O's Sam Fischenich returns to the state tournament sporting a 36-4 record as a 130-pounder. Fischenich will face La Crescent's Cole Gibson (32-3) in the first round.

W/ML/B-O teammate Bill Hochstein (39-3) is set for his first state appearance and will square off against Byron's Dallen Rud (30-7) in his 135-pound opener. Also in this weight class, Adrian's Matt Gades (34-8) will battle Grand Rapids' Eric Enerson (32-4).

At 140 pounds, W/ML/B-O's A.J. Stevens (35-6) begins his hunt for an individual state title against Delano's Joe Hessing (27-14).

T-M-B's Luke Prairie (38-3) and F/MCC's Tyler Giese (29-12) will represent the area at 145 pounds. Prairie will face St. Michael-Albertville's Jake Horn (30-12), while Giese will tangle with Hutchinson's Ryan Madson (36-5) in the opening round.

In the 152-pound division, W/ML/B-O's Jared Peterson (13-4) is prepared to take on St. Paul-Highland Park's Max Kafka (25-5) in the first round.

Andy Henning of F/MCC boasts a 37-2 record as a 160-pounder. Henning will grapple with Hibbing's Will Johnson (37-4) in the opening round.

At 171 pounds, Adrian's Shea Klooster (31-11) opens the tournament against Virginia Area's A.J. Arntz (32-6), while T-M-B's Colton Evans (23-13) tangles with South St. Paul's Vinny Branchaud (29-9).

F/MCC's Kody Kramer returns to St. Paul looking for another shot at a championship, this time at 189 pounds. Kramer (31-5) will square off against Joe Guzman (22-6) of Saint Paul Como Park. Also in this weight class, Adrian's Jordan Reker (34-9) faces Fergus Falls' Drew Ross (35-0) in the opening round.

Adrian's Zach Reker (39-3) the 215-pound Section 3AA champion will battle East Grand Forks' Patrick Thompson (24-8), while Luverne's Sam Dooyema (29-12) will open his first state tournament against Big Lake's Ben Brown (34-5).

In the heavyweight division, Worthington's Jordan Schroeder (25-3) will be pitted against Orono's Mason Hammerlund (24-7) in the opening round.