NORTH ST. PAUL — Three Ponies remain standing following an injury-plagued season for the Stillwater wrestling program.
Seniors Grant Wohlwend, Haden Hausken and Peter Palecek have advanced to this week’s state tournament after placing among the top two finishers in their weight class at the individual Section 4AAA tournament on Saturday.
Wohlwend won all three of his matches on Saturday to capture the section title at 170 pounds while Hausken and Palecek joined him in the state meet after placing second at 220 and 285 pounds. Wohlwend and Hausken competed at state a year ago when Stillwater sent a school record eight wrestlers to state, but three is the fewest number of qualifiers for the Ponies since sending two in 2007.
Injuries began piling up for the Ponies before the season even started and that trend continued throughout and up-and-down season. Five Ponies were sidelined because of concussions on Saturday, including returning state qualifier Dillan Nelson and seventh-grader Will Harter, who posted a 27-8 record this season. Patrick Stokes has also been sidelined the past few weeks while Gage LeBourgeois and Gavin Keogh suffered concussions during Stillwater’s section semifinal loss to Woodbury in the tournament on Feb. 22.
“We haven’t ever had anything like this,” Ponies coach Rich Keller said. “It was pretty frustrating and it’s not easy for the kids. They were there and watched, but it’s not easy to sit and speculate, especially with Dillan’s and Will’s spots that they most likely would have qualified.”
Because Harter has been unable to train, he was likely going to compete at 120 pounds, but could not get cleared to compete. LeBourgeois and Keogh did not figure to be amont the top two seeds, but expected to be among the placewinners with a legitimate opportunity to contend for a state bid.
Wohlwend was impressive while pinning Woodbury’s Andrew French in 59 seconds to start the day and followed with a 12-1 major decision over Robert Kowalski of White Bear Lake. Then in the finals, Wohlwend (20-9) defeated Tartan’s Eli McGeehan 9-7 to punch his ticket to state.
“I thought Grant had an awesome tournament,” Keller said. “He wrestled as good as he’s wrestled all year.”
It was a more efficient path to state this time around for Wohlwend, who had to win four straight matches to claim true second after dropping his first match at sections a year ago.
Hausken (23-13) only loss came in the finals with a 6-3 setback against Jake Paulson of Tartan. The senior pinned Jacob LaPierre of Roseville in 1:19 to start the day and followed with a 2-1 semifinal victory over White Bear Lake’s Jake Hansen. Hausken was leading 3-2 in the second period before getting called for an illegal slam.
“We had kind of dominated the match before that,” Keller said.
Paulson has lost just two matches all season.
“(Hausken) is kind of a quiet kid whose nonchalant, but he was pretty excited to go back — and Grant was too,” Keller said.
Palecek has literally transformed himself into a state qualifier for the Ponies. The senior weighed 330 pounds on Jan. 1, 2013, but weighed in at a svelte 250 on Saturday. His tireless work ethic also led to all-state honors as an offensive lineman in football this past fall, not to mention a scholarship to St. Cloud State University.
“He has really turned his career around from 330 last year to a pretty fit and trim 250,” Keller said. “That’s a pretty good thing.”
Palecek (31-9) pinned Josh Moran of White Bear Lake and Josh Klimek of Roseville in the first two rounds before getting stuck by Tartan’s Jason Telin (31-4) in the finals. Palecek also pinned Cretin-Derham Hall’s Nick Neumann in the second period to secure true second and his spot in the state field.
Collin Olson posted a 3-1 record on Saturday, but fell short of qualifying for state after placing third at 160 pounds. Olson’s only loss came against eventual runner-up Tyler Graham by the score of 12-10 in the semifinals, but did not have an opportunity to wrestle back for second place after Graham lost to Woodbury’s Howard Jones in the finals.
Olson led 8-2 going into the third period, but Graham put him on his back twice to tie the match and later scored a takedown in overtime to advance.
“That one really hurt,” Keller said. “Some kids would fold at that point, but Collin battled back to win his third-place match. It’s always hard when kids don’t qualify, but Collin is such an asset to the team his last three years and his willingness to do whatever we asked him to do. To not see that state entrant next to his name was pretty tough.”
Stillwater placed in 11 of the 12 weight classes it had an entry for, including fourth-place finishes by Ben Sweet (132 pounds), Nate Powers (138) and John Huntley (152). Parker Estenson was a last-minute replacement for Keogh at 145 pounds and he placed fifth, along with Tommy Riesselman at 106 pounds and senior Mitch Schertz at 195 pounds.
The preliminary matches for the section tourney were originally scheduled for Friday, but postponed one day because of poor travel conditions. The Minnesota State High School League lifted the match limit for the day so the tourney could be conducted in one day, though Riesselman was the only Pony to wrestle five times on Saturday.
“It may have added an hour to the tournament (on Saturday), but I wish we could do it that way every year,” Keller said.
n The Class AAA state team tournament will take place starting with the quarterfinals on Thursday at 9 a.m. The semifinals and finals will also take place on Thursday. The individual competition kicks off in the large school class with first-round matches on Friday starting at 1 p.m.
Stillwater’s Grant Wohlwend (20-9) has drawn Michael Wagner (20-8) of Shakopee for his first-round match at state in the 170-pound weight class.
Haden Hausken (23-13) will face Jake Owens (31-7) of Rogers in the 220-pound weight class while Peter Palecek (32-9) will meet Bryce Kirchner (32-3) of St. Cloud Apollo in the first round.
Top 2 qualify for state
106 — Tommy Riesselman (3-2, 5th place): tech fall Conner Rohloff (Ros) 19-4; pinned by Zachary Ferguson (SPC) :13; pinned Luke Malakowsky (NSP) 2:33; lost by tech fall to Tom Adair (WBL) 16-1; dec. Brady Moesenthin (Wo) 6-5. 1. Zachary Ferguson (SPC); 2. Lucas Froemel (Tar).
113 — Forfeit: 1. Matt Muedeking (WBL); 2. Austin Braun (Wo).
120 — Peter Hagel (0-2, DNP): lost by tech fall to Andrew Johnson (Tar) 17-2; lost by tech fall to Josh Hurley (NSP) 17-0. 1. Andy Andress (WBL); 2. Logan Smith (C-DH).
126 — Forfeit: 1. Ty Johnson (Wo); 2. December Htoo (Ros).
132 — Ben Sweet (2-2, 4th place): pinned Alex LaPierre (Ros) 1:15; lost by major dec. to Matthew Delaney (Wo) 19-5; pinned Irving Sereno (NSP) 2:58; lost to Robby Olson (Tar) 9-3. 1. Grant Bolduan (WBL); 2. Matthew Delaney (Wo).
138 — Nate Powers (2-2, 4th place): pinned by David Beseman (Wo) 2:38; pinned Gene Hogale (NSP) :47; dec. Jacob Arndt (SPC) 7-3; pinned by David Beseman (Wo) 5:52. 1. Elijah Muedeking (WBL); 2. Peyton Floyd (Tar).
145 — Parker Estenson (2-2, 5th place): pinned by Corbin Buie (WBL) 1:02; pinned Ramesh Upreti (Ros) 2:51; lost to Jack Gallagher (C-DH) 2-0; dec. Nordoryei Daye (SPH) 2-0. 1. Ben Donnelly (Wo); 2. Justin Burg (Tar).
152 — John Huntley (2-2, 4th place): dec. Mason Rostad (C-DH) 4-2; pinned by Dion Wallisch (Tar) :44; dec. Logan Lange (SPH) 8-5; lost to Jamie Vilalva (SPC) 4-3. Justin Herold-Plakut (Wo); 2. Dion Wallisch (Tar).
160 — Collin Olson (3-1, 3rd place): dec. Nick Garcia (Tar) 7-3; lost to Tyler Graham (Ros) 12-10 in OT; tech fall Tristan Knick (SPC) 16-1; dec. Joe Dittel (WBL) 8-5. 1. Howard Jones (Wo); 2. Tyler Graham (Ros).
170 — Grant Wohlwend (3-0, 1st place): pinned Andrew French (Wo) :59; major dec. Robert Kowalski (WBL) 12-1; dec. Eli McGeehan (Tar) 9-7. 1. Grant Wohlwend (St); 2. Eli McGeehan (Tar).
182 — Vinny DeRosa (0-3, 6th place): lost by tech fall to Janse Anderson (WBL) 18-3; lost to Matthew Boncich (C-DH) 5-1; lost to Tou Lee (SPH) 12-10. 1. TJ O’Hara (Tar); 2. Janse Anderson (WBL).
195 — Mitch Schertz (2-2, 5th place): lost to John McNiff (Wo) 7-3; dec. Alex Nelson (NSP) 8-1; pinned by Jake Johnson (SPH) 2:03; dec. Jack Gainer (C-DH) 10-5. John McNiff (Wo); 2. Isaac Schmaedeke (Ros).
220 — Haden Hausken (2-1, 2nd place): pinned Jacob LaPierre (Ros) 1:19; dec. Jake Hansen (WBL) 2-1; lost to Jake Paulson (Tar) 6-3. 1. Jake Paulson (Tar); 2. Haden Hausken (St).
285 — Peter Palecek (3-1, 2nd place): pinned Josh Moran (WBL) :24; pinned Josh Klimek (Ros) 1:35; pinned by Jason Telin (Tar) 3:32; pinned Nick Neumann (C-DH) 3:00. 1. Jason Telin (Tar); 2. Peter Palecek (St).