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State Class AA wrestling: Luft is impressive

CALEB NELSON/DAILY GLOBE Last year’s state Class AA 120-pound champion Anthony Luft of Worthington fights toward a fall in the quarterfinals Friday at 126 pounds at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

ST. PAUL — While it may have been just one loss amongst many matches Anthony Luft has wrestled over his many years of experience, he still remembers one setback early in the 2013-14 season. It was a 4-1 match in the semifinals of Redwood Valley’s Rumble on the Red Tournament just after Christmas.

The setback — to Class AA’s now top-ranked David Flynn from Scott West — was likely ingrained in Luft’s mind as he stepped onto the mat again to face Flynn, this time in the Class A quarterfinals Friday at the state wrestling tournament in St. Paul.

Making hard work look easy, the second-ranked Luft found an early takedown en route to pinning Flynn. It took him just 53 seconds do it, and it sent him to his second spot in the state semifinals in as many seasons.

“You just have to use the same routine every time,” Luft said after his quarterfinal match. “That’s the only way you’re going to win up here.”

Luft reached the quarterfinals with a 12-2 major decision Friday morning in the opening round over Chisago Lakes Area sophomore Aaron Sistrunk. On the opposite side of the bracket, Flynn decisioned a Perham senior 5-0.

At this time of the season, said Luft, opponents don’t give you anything. Flynn in the quarterfinals was no exception.

“He knows how to capitalize on mistakes and is really good at that,” Luft said. “The takedown was there, so I took it.”

Luft will be Worthington’s lone wrestler competing in the semifinals. His opponent, Foley senior Tyler Funk, earned a 9-7 decision to begin the tournament and ousted senior Keston Lopez by 15-0 technical fall. Funk enters the semifinals at 28-5 and Luft is 40-2.

“It’ll be the same thing tomorrow. The same routine,” Luft said of Saturday’s task. “(To win another championship) would be really cool.”

Trojans go 4-1 in opening round, send three to consolation brackets

Getting solid efforts from all five of its wrestlers in the tournament, Worthington went 4-1 through the first round of action as sophomore 106-pounder Hser Eh Pwae, Luft (126), senior Zach Kempema (160) and Blake Schroeder (170) all won matches. Carson Hagen lost in the opening round at 195 pounds by 3-2 decision to Foley senior Mitch Struffert.

In the quarterfinals, Eh Pwae lost a 5-2 decision, Kempema was defeated in an 11-3 major decision and Schroeder ended on the short end of a 10-0 major decision, sending each of them to wrestlebacks.

“The kids wrestled hard today. We had some exciting wins but some heartbreaking losses, but that’s not uncommon when you come to a tournament of this caliber. There will be close matches,” Worthington head coach Mark Prunty said. “In wins and losses, I thought the boys represented Worthington very well.”

Hser Eh Pwae’s season ends; Kempema and Schroeder wrestling for third

With wins on the consolation side of their brackets, Kempema and Schroeder will continue toward a possible third-place finish today. Kempema rebounded from his loss to claim a 5-3 decision against Totino-Grace’s Jared Florell. At 170, Schroeder came back to technical fall Cole Schmitz of Perham by a final score of 16-0.

“All three of our seniors are still going. Blake and Zach’s backs were against the wall because it was win or go home,” Prunty said. “Both boys took control of their matches right away and had control the whole way.

“They win a match (Saturday) and they place. It’s a chance to get on the podium and that’s special,” Prunty added of the opportunity in front of his seniors. “They’ve had to watch from the stands before but this is their time. They’re taking advantage of it and hopefully we can come out and do well again tomorrow.”

Axford wrestling in semifinals; Hartle and Oeltjenbruns fall out of contention

At 132 pounds, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove sophomore Logan Axford moved to 35-3 on the year and earned himself a spot in today’s semifinals. He will face Rockford senior Ty Griffin.

At 113 pounds, Fulda/Murray County Central’s Clayton Hartle saw his championship hopes dashed with a quarterfinal-round loss. He then fell short, by 11-4 decision in his first consolation match, ending his season.

At 182 pounds, Luverne senior Spencer Oeltjenbruns lost an opening round match by 4-2 decision to Zimmerman junior Austin May. On the consolation side of the bracket, Oeltjenbruns’ season ended with an 11-3 major decision by Byron senior Brian Bertram.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson is the Daily Globe sports writer. He hails from southwest Iowa and served as sports editor at the Audubon County Advocate Journal there for 2 ½ years before moving to Worthington in October 2013. Caleb trys to enjoy life and everybody that he meets. He enjoys music, playing guitar and drums, and is an avid sports fan. 
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