The Stillwater wrestling team has already achieved quantity with eight athletes scheduled to compete at this week’s state tournament, but would like to add some quality finishes to cap a strong push to finish out the season.
The eight entries is the most in school history, but the Ponies did not produce a placewinner in their second most productive year while sending seven to state in 2010 — one of just two years out of the last eight the program didn’t place someone on the podium.
Senior Austin Jordan at 126 pounds and Dillan Nelson at 132 pounds are each making their third trip to the state tournament while Christian Bahl (106 pounds) and Wayde Hall (120) have advanced for the second year in a row.
Making their first trips to the state tournament will be Matt Riehle at 138 pounds, Grant Wohlwend at 160, Sebastian Dingle at 182 and Haden Hausken at 220.
The state tournament kicks off with the team competition on Thursday and the individual tourney starts on Friday and continues through Saturday. Woodbury, which edged Stillwater in the Section 4AAA team tournament, will meet third-seeded Prior Lake in the state quarterfinals on Thursday.
The expectations for each Stillwater wrestlers varies, including some who were not necessarily expected to get this far.
“Some really have to redo their goals,” Keller said. “I think there’s a few that hadn’t planned on being where they are right now. Rather than just being satisfied to be there, let’s go win some matches.”
Bahl is ranked fourth in his weight class while Jordan is ranked ninth at 126 pounds — each of his losses this season have been at 132 or 138 pounds.
“There’s not an easy match there,” Keller said. “I’m sure Austin and Christian, at least, want to place badly and it’s not that the other kids don’t, but their goals are maybe different and some might be happy to win a match.”
Stillwater’s season record of 17-19 might not raise too many eye brows, but the Ponies have faced some of the state’s best competition throughout the season and Keller feels his kids are well prepared for what they will face this week.
“I think one of the things was that our schedule was pretty darn tough,” Keller said. “Wrestling in the big (Rochester) Christmas Tournament and a fairly large Eastview Tournament, I thought it was pretty good preparation.”
Stillwater state entries
106 — Christian Bahl (31-10) vs. Grant Brendemuhl, Moorhead (22-4)
120 — Wayde Hall (16-13) vs. Ryan Weinmann, Irondale (34-6)
126 — Austin Jordan (36-6) vs. Nate Mittag, Willmar (23-6)
132 — Dillan Nelson (28-11) vs. Mark Voss, St. Michael-Albertville (36-5)
138 — Matt Riehle (12-6) vs. Owen Webster, Shakopee (27-8)
160 — Grant Wohlwend (17-12) vs. Ryder Schmidt, Mound-Westonka (33-8)
182 — Sebastian Dingle (28-12) vs. Matt Njos, Anoka (33-11)
220 — Haden Hausken (14-22) vs. Justin Cumberbatch, Alexandria (32-2)