Four area wrestlers reach state
United North Central's Jacob Malone, Josh Meech and Zach Nevala and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis' Luke Conger extended their seasons Saturday by qualifying for the state wrestling tournament.
Malone finished second at 112 pounds, Meech won the title at 152 pounds and Nevala was the runner-up at heavyweight at the Section 8A tournament at Dilworth while Conger won a true-second match at 119 pounds at the Section 8AA tournament at Cass Lake to advance.
Malone, the No. 3 seed entering the tournament, advanced to the finals with a 6-4 minor decision over No. 2 Tanner Ellenberg of Frazee in the semifinals. Top-seeded Garret Heffner of Mahnomen-Waubun pinned Malone in 1:24 in the title match.
In the 152-pound bracket, Meech entered as the No. 3 seed and reached the finals with a 7-3 decision over No. 5 Brandon VanWatermulen of Frazee in the semifinals. Meech then defeated top-seeded Kellen McArthur of Mahnomen 11-5 in the finals.
Nevala backed up his No. 2 ranking at heavyweight by pinning No. 3 seeded Alex Yeager of Greenbush in the semifinals before dropping a 13-0 major decision to top-seeded Logan Rinke of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in the finals.
At the Section 8AA meet, Conger lost an 18-8 major decision to Perham's Jacob Werner in the semifinals, but survived the wrestlebacks and earned a true-second match against Detroit Lakes' Brandon Baker, who was pinned by Werner in the finals. Conger, who pinned Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus' Peter Harrison in 3:42 in the third-place match, qualified for state with a 13-5 major decision over Baker.
Those four wrestlers will open the state tournament Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center. The state tournament concludes Saturday.
Malone, an eighth-grader, faces Aitkin senior Keith Wasserzieher in the first round. Wasserzieher is 29-5 and ranked No. 9 in the state. Malone carries a 23-5 record into his state debut.
Meech, a senior, enters state with a 21-6 record and faces Hayfield senior Mark Evjen in the first round. Evjen is 29-9 on the season and rated No. 8 in state.
Nevala also has a tough first-round matchup. The Menahga senior will put his 24-5 record on the line against Chatfield senior Jon Farnell, who is rated No. 2 in the state with a 38-0 record.
In the Class AA tournament, Conger opens against Plainview junior Ben Swanson. Conger, a junior at Nevis, has a 31-8 record while Swanson is 37-1 and rated No. 5 in the state.
In addition to the four state qualifiers, UNC and WHAN had four other wrestlers place at the section meet.
For UNC, Ben Meech finished fourth at 125 pounds while Max Aho finished fourth at 135 pounds.
For WHAN, Devin Wicks finished fifth at 125 pounds and Garret Edelman placed sixth at 215 pounds. Both of those wrestlers are from Nevis.
Weaver, Nash lead Panthers
Matt Weaver and Jared Nash finished fourth to lead the Park Rapids wrestling team at the Section 8AA tournament.
Weaver lost a 6-3 decision to Charlie Schmitz of Perham in the semifinals and dropped an 8-6 overtime decision to Little Falls' Derik Jendro in the third-place match at 152 pounds.
In the 160-pound bracket, Nash was defeated by Little Falls' Cody Bue 6-2 in the semifinals and lost a 5-3 decision to Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena's Brandon Klug in the third-place match.
Three other Park Rapids wrestlers - Dylan Holmer at 125, Forrest Drury at 130 and Danny Pike at 171 - ended up placing sixth.
Also competing for the Panthers at the section meet were Laine Jensen at 103, Mike Sandretzky at 112, Cameron Free at 119, Zach Steffen at 135, Zac Haugland at 140, Derek Werner at 145, Tom Drury at 189 and Kenny Weaver at heavyweight.