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State Class AA wrestling: Nielsen to see familiar face in semifinals

ST. PAUL -- When Luverne wrestler Solomon Nielsen steps on the mat for his 170-pound semifinal match today, he will see a familiar face looking back at him.

ST. PAUL -- When Luverne wrestler Solomon Nielsen steps on the mat for his 170-pound semifinal match today, he will see a familiar face looking back at him.

Mason Rutt of Tri-City United is a personal friend with whom he has a relationship away from wrestling.

“My cousin goes to his school -- Tri-City United -- I used to hang out with him a lot and I’ve practiced with him,” Nielsen said.

But his friendship with Rutt won’t stop him from trying to dominate him in their match -- much like he dominated his two matches on Friday at the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center -- and earn a berth in the Class AA state final.

“I know this next guy’s not a big conditioning guy,” said Nielsen, the state’s No. 3-ranked 170-pounder entering the tournament. “So I’m going to push the pace and try to get him tired. And try to break him.”

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In his opening round match, Nielsen rode three second-period takedowns to a 13-2 major decision over Orono’s Danny Striggow.

In his quarterfinal match, Nielsen earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Perham’s Zachary Peterson. He scored a takedown late in the second, and opened the third down and escaped almost immediately.

“He knew my style because I wrestled him last year,” Nielsen said. “He knew I was going to try scoring a lot, so he tried to slow me down. We’re both offensive guys, but I like how it went. He tried getting me in a couple positions, and I just got out of it.”

Worthington’s Jacob Prunty (120 pounds) won his opening round match against Leighton Rach of Perham via 3-1 decision. Prunty struck early with a takedown in the first, and added an escape in the second.

In the quarterfinal, Prunty lost to last year’s 113-pound champion, Waconia’s Garrett Vos, 1-0. Vos started the third period down and escaped to earn the match’s only point.

In wrestlebacks, Prunty defeated Litchfield’s Afton Kaping 5-1 to stay in contention for third place.

Prunty’s teammates Vince Riley (182 pounds) and Brandon Kempema (195 pounds) both lost their opening-round matches. Riley lost to Becker’s Jaylin Hildebrandt 3-2, while Kempema lost to Perham’s Ty Moser 6-2.

Wabasso/Red Rock Central’s Jared Welch (285 pounds) pinned Princeton’s Colton Hellman in 3:16 in the opening round to advance to the quarterfinals. In his quarterfinal match, he lost to Foley’s Mitch Trigg 5-2. And in wrestlebacks, he fought through an injury sustained against Trigg, but lost a 5-0 decision to St. Peter’s Tony Putz.

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W/RRC’s Tyson Doubler (138 pounds) lost his opening round match to Kasson-Mantorville’s Keaten Schorr by major decision 8-0, but advanced to the second round of wrestlebacks via injury default.

Doubler is joined in the second round of wrestlebacks by 195-pound teammate Devan Liebl. Liebl defeated Bloomington Kennedy’s Erick Lopez via 10-4 decision in the opening round. In the quarterfinals, he lost to Daniel Kerkvliet of Simley by 23-8 tech fall in 2:50.

But he won his first wrestleback match over Hibbing’s Devante Jelle by 8-0 major decision.

Nick Altermatt (170 pounds) and Jared Schroepfer (145 pounds), and Mitchell Fulton (182 pounds) of W/RRC each lost in the first round and weren’t eligible for wrestlebacks. Altermatt lost a 7-5 decision to Bloomington-Kennedy’s Noah Keith. Schroepfer lost a 5-3 decision to South St. Paul’s Trevor Oberg. And Fulton lost a 7-5 decision to Albany’s Gabe Zierden.

Nielsen was joined by two Cardinals teammates at the state tournament -- Hunter Baker (106 pounds) and Zach Luke (220 pounds) -- but both lost in the first round.

Baker lost to Byron’s Matthew Peterson by 24-9 tech fall in 3:18 in the first round, and lost an 11-0 major decision to Nic Cantu of Albert Lea in the first round of wrestlebacks, ending his tournament.

Luke was pinned twice losing to K-M’s Noah Ryan in 1:10 and Hutchinson’s Tyler Stenzel in 0:48.

Fulda/Murray County Central’s Danny Blankenship was pinned by Delano’s Carson Tschudi in 0:43 in the first round, and wasn’t eligible for wrestlebacks.

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Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Dereck Ellingson’s tournament was also over after the opening round when he lost a 6-5 decision to Cade Lundeen of Thief River Falls.

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Tom Goehle, son of legendary coach Hugo Goehle, was once a star athlete at Hills-Beaver Creek High School. Now he gives back through coaching and his involvement in Fellowship of Christian Athletes.