ROCHESTER -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College wrestlers Wallace Michels and Hser Eh Pwae earned berths in the national tournament on Sunday after turning in solid performances at the NCJAA North District Qualifier in Rochester.
Michels placed second at 157 pounds and Hser Eh placed third at 125.
At 157, Michels went 1-1 in the tournament. He lost to a returning All-American in the finals.
“He’s wrestling on all cylinders. After Christmas, he’s gotten in better shape. He can wrestle with the best of them right now,” said his coach, Bryan Cowdin.
Hser Eh earned a wild card national tournament card. He went 0-2 at the North District meet, but wrestled well enough to earn the respect of the coaches.
“He wrestled well,” said Cowdin. “That’s a tough weight class. He was moving well. I liked the way he looked.”
The biggest disappointment for Minnesota West was that Michael Preuss -- who had been the Bluejays’ most consistent performer for most of the season, placed fourth at 165 pounds and was unable to qualify for the nationals. He entered the weekend tournament as the No. 1 seed in his weight class but was not at 100 percent.
A rib injury slowed Preuss down for the past two weeks, and in his third-place match he succumbed to injury default against Rochester’s Elijah Hollins.
Minnesota West’s King Blanchette placed third at 184 pounds, losing his only match. He wrestled hard, though, said Cowdin, after struggling with a knee injury for most of the second half of the season.
Another Minnesota West wrestler, Austin Pulse, finished fifth at 285 pounds.
The national tournament is in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Feb. 23-24.