WOODBURY — Denied a state berth in the state team event a week earlier, the Stillwater wrestling team qualified more than half its lineup for individual competition following a stellar showing in Saturday’s Section 4AAA tournament at Woodbury High School.
The Ponies crowned four individual section champions and finished with four runner-ups while advancing eight wrestlers for the state tournament on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The team competition takes place on Thursday with the individuals taking center stage on Friday and Saturday.
Even the most optimistic would have been hard pressed to anticipate eight qualifiers for the Ponies. The program’s previous high came in 2010 when seven wrestlers advanced to state.
Stillwater easily surpassed the six state entries produced by White Bear Lake and the five secured by section team champion Woodbury, which won the coin toss and benefited from favorable match-ups to clip the Ponies in their head-to-head meeting.
“It was a lot of fun,” Stillwater coach Rich Keller said. “I guess you could say we’re really happy and proud that things went well.”
Eighth-grader Christian Bahl (31-10) captured his second section title in as many years while taking top honors at 106 pounds. As the top seed, Bahl received a bye into the semifinals where he pinned Zachary Ferguson of St. Paul Central and followed that with a 7-4 victory over Louis Varland of North St. Paul.
In fact, the Ponies produced state entries in five of the first six weight classes.
Austin Jordan (38-6) was not seriously challenged while cruising through the 126-pound weight class with a technical fall and pin in the first two rounds and a 9-0 major decision over White Bear Lake’s Grant Bolduan in the finals.
Stillwater’s other section champions were collected by Matt Riehle at 138 pounds and Sebastian Dingle at 182 pounds.
Riehle (12-6) survived a 1-0 victory over Ej Li Spe Tun Baw of St. Paul Central in the quarterfinals before pinning top-seeded Elijah Muedeking of White Bear Lake with just one second remaining in their semifinal match. Then in the finals, Reihle held off Matt Delaney 10-6 for the title.
After pinning his first opponent and then defeating John McNiff of Woodbury 7-2 in the semifinals, Dingle (28-12) held off Gary Knick of St. Paul Central 5-4 in the finals.
Dingle’s ascent to the state tourney this season began in the summer while enduring the rigorous J Robinson 28-day camp. A trip to state for the senior would not have seemed likely at this time a year ago.
“He’s not a great, gifted athlete, but he went to that 28-day intensive camp and it changed him,” Keller said. “He’s clicking right now and to see him stand up on top of the podium after beating the No. 1 seed who was a state entrant last year was great.
“He worked and sacrificed a summer, literally 28 days of summer, to do that and it’s a testament to how bad he wanted to get to the state tournament.”
Wayde Hall earned a repeat trip to state after pinning Greg Velver of North St. Paul in 3:01 in the match for true second at 120 pounds after losing in the finals to Woodbury’s Ty Johnson.
Dillan Nelson will join Jordan at state for the third year in a row after placing second at 132 pounds. Nelson advanced to the finals with a 16-0 technical fall over Jaime Villeiva-Lijo and a 16-3 major decision over Justin Burg of Tartan in the semifinals, before getting stopped by top seed Ben Donnelly of Woodbury 8-0 in the finals.
Stillwater’s final two state entries are Grant Wohlwend at 160 pounds and Haden Hausken at 220 pounds.
It was a long road for Wohlwend after losing to Minneapolis South’s Elerson Smith 12-5 in the first round. The junior bounced back with an 8-7 victory over Hsinku Lay of Roseville and a 5-2 victory over Tartan’s Nick Garcia. Wohlwend (17-12) then pinned White Bear Lake’s Gregg Wilcox in 1:56 and captured true second after sticking Adam Sawyer of St. Paul Central in 5:50 to punch his ticket to state.
“You’ve just got to believe you can do it,” Keller said.
Hausken (14-22) advanced to the finals with an 8-4 victory over Roseville’s John Falkowski and defeated Woodbury’s Anthony Doreo 5-0 in the semifinals. His only setback was an 11-4 loss to White Bear Lake’s Tyler Hubman in the finals.
David Olson wrestled well for the Ponies at 170 pounds, but he also happened to be competing in arguably the toughest weight class. His only loss was to eventual runner-up Tommy Longendyke in the semifinals, but he pinned each of his other three opponents.
“David wrestled outstanding, he just had the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked kids in the state (in his weight class),” Keller said.
Andy Jordan and Collin Olson finished fourth for the Ponies at 145 and 152 pounds while Mitchell Schertz placed fifth at 195 pounds.
106 — *Christian Bahl (2-0, 1st place): bye; pinned Zachary Ferguson (SPC) 4:49; dec. *Louie Varland (NSP) 7-4.
113 — Patrick Stokes (1-2, DNP): pinned by Tony Mirtica (Tar) 3:40; major dec. Dimitri Vang (NSP) 12-4; lost to Abdi Ali (MS) 7-0.
120 — *Wayde Hall (3-1, 2nd place): pinned Dev Nambury (Tar) 1:55; pinned Micah Jenssens (MS) 3:11; lost to *Ty Johnson (Wo) 3-1; pinned Greg Velver (NSP) 3:01.
126 — *Austin Jordan (3-0, 1st place): tech fall DeMarcus Dugas (NSP) 19-2; pinned Tu Ni (SPC) 3:11; major dec. *Grant Bolduan (WBL) 9-0.
132 — *Dillan Nelson (2-1, 2nd place): tech fall Jaime Villeiva-Lijo (SPC) 16-0; major dec. Justin Burg (Tar) 16-3; lost to *Ben Donnelly (Wo) 8-0.
138 — *Matt Riehle (3-0, 1st place): dec/ Ej Li Spe Tun Baw (SPC) 1-0; pinned *Elijah Muedeking (WBL) 5:59; dec. Matt Delaney (Wo) 10-6.
145 — Andy Jordan (3-2, 4th place): major dec. Jack Gallagher (C-DH) 12-2; pinned by *Brandon Strong (MS) 2:44; major dec. Dillon Carlson (NSP) 12-2; dec. Joe Dittel (WBL) 5-0; lost to Tyler Graham (Ros) 6-4.
152 — Collin Olson (2-2, 4th place): lost to *Brett Peterson (MS) 16-6; dec. Tristan Knick (SPC) 5-3; pinned Tyler Kogler (Tar) 2:07; lost to Corbin Bute (WBL) 5-4.
160 — *Grant Wohlwend (4-1, 2nd place): lost to Elerson Smith (MS) 12-5; dec. Hsinku Lay (Ros) 8-7; dec. Nick Garcia (Tar) 5-2; pinned Gregg Wilcox (WBL) 1:56; pinned Adam Sawyer (SPC) 5:50.
170 — David Olson (3-1, 3rd place): pinned Jason Carlson (NSP) :31; pinned by *Tommy Longendyke (WBL) 2:51; pinned Xzavier Severino (MS) :44; pinned Chason Hayslett (Wo) 4:34.
182 — *Sebastian Dingle (3-0, 1st place): pinned Alex Nelson (NSP) 1:11; dec. John McNiff (Wo) 7-2; dec. *Gary Knick (SPC) 5-4.
195 — Mitchell Schertz (0-2, 5th place): bye; pinned by *Trae Story (Ros) 3:59; lost to Pavel Swensen (Wo) 8-4.
220 — *Haden Hausken (2-1, 2nd place): dec. John Falkowski (Ros) 8-4; dec. Anthony Doreo (Wo) 5-0; lost to *Tyler Hubman (WBL) 11-4.
285 — Forfeit.
* State qualifier
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at email@example.com