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Nevala finishes sixth in heavyweight class at state tournament

Zach Nevala pinned BHV's Colin Turchin during the wrestlebacks en route to a sixth-place finish at the state Class A wrestling tournament. (John George / Pherham Enterprise)

United North Central's Zach Nevala entered the state Class A wrestling tournament rated No. 6 in the state at heavyweight.

That's just where the Menahga senior ended up finishing in his state debut as Goodhue's Luke O'Reilly posted a 9-4 win over Nevala in the fifth-place match Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Nevala qualified for his first state tournament by finishing second at the Section 8A meet. Nevala was defeated by Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Logan Rinke 13-0 in the section title match. Rinke entered state rated No. 4 at heavyweight with a 30-7 mark while Nevala had a 24-5 record entering state.

In Wednesday's first round of the state tournament, Nevala was pinned by Chatfield's Jon Farnell in 1:33. Farnell was rated No. 2 in the state with a 38-0 record entering the Class A meet.

When Farnell pinned WEM/JWP's Andrew Wolter in 3:04 in the quarterfinals, Nevala was awarded a spot in the wrestlebacks. Wolter was rated No. 5 in the state with a 28-10 record.

Nevala took advantage of his second chance by defeating Wolter 4-2 in three overtimes during Thursday's wrestlebacks. Nevala then eliminated Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's Colin Turchin with a pin at the 2:29 mark in the second round of wrestlebacks. Turchin entered state unranked with a 21-13 record.

Canby's Brad Wollum prevented Nevala from advancing to the third-place match with a 5-1 victory during Friday's action. Wollum, who was the defending state runner-up and was rated No. 1 entering the state meet with a 36-4 record, defeated No. 10-ranked Aaron Rose of Sibley East 16-1 in the third-place match. Wollum finished with a 40-5 record while Rose ended 24-9.

O'Reilly, who entered state rated No. 7 with a 31-6 record, defeated Nevala 9-4 in Saturday's fifth-place match. O'Reilly capped his senior season with a 34-8 mark.

Nevala capped off his senior season with a 26-8 record. Farnell capped off an undefeated season with a 5-1 win over No. 3-ranked Jake Lee of Blue Earth Area in the title match. Farnell, who finished sixth at last year's state meet, ended the season with a 42-0 mark while Lee capped off his senior season at 42-2.

The other three area qualifiers didn't have much luck in their state debuts.

United North Central's Josh Meech lost both his matches while UNC's Jake Malone and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis' Luke Conger lost their first match and were eliminated.

Meech, who qualified for state by winning the Section 8A title at 152 pounds, was pinned by Hayfield senior Mark Evjen in 1:47 in Wednesday's opening round. However, Meech received another match when Evjen defeated No. 6-ranked Bryce Andrews of Madelia 11-8 in the quarterfinals.

During Thursday's wrestlebacks, Meech had his state debut come to an end when Andrews pinned him in 4:35. Meech ended his senior season with a 21-8 record. Andrews lost to No. 7-ranked Stephen Erlandson of Breckenridge 8-7 in the next round to end his season at 37-4. Evjen, who was rated No. 8 in the state, lost to No. 4-ranked Jake Braaten of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale 10-5 in the third-place match to end his senior season with a 32-11 record. Braaten ended his junior season with a 37-5 record. Medford's Tyler Yule, who was rated No. 10 in the state, defeated unranked Cody Tibbetts of Lake Crystal 9-5 in the title match. Yule went 40-6 this season while Tibbetts ended with a 34-10 record. Top-ranked Collin Jergenson of Minnewaska Area defeated Erlandson 13-4 in the fifth-place match. Jergenson finished with a 40-2 record while Erlandson ended 35-9.

Malone, who was the Section 8A runner-up at 112 pounds, was pinned by Aitkin senior Keith Wasserzieher in 1:06 in Wednesday's first round. Malone was eliminated when Wasserzieher was defeated by No. 5-ranked Jake Long of Canby 8-5 in the quarterfinals. Malone ended his eighth-grade season with a 23-6 overall record. Wasserzieher, who was rated No. 9 in the state, finished with a 31-7 overall record. Top-ranked Christian Skillings of Minneota, who won the state title at 103 last season, defeated Long 7-0 in the title match. Skillings ended the season at 42-1 while Long ended with a 37-6 record.

Conger, who was the Section 8AA runner-up at 119 pounds, made his state debut by dropping a 19-4 technical fall to No. 5-ranked Ben Swanson of Plainview during Wednesday's opening round. Conger was then eliminated when Swanson was defeated by unranked Jake Grisell of Mahtomedi 20-13 in the quarterfinals. Conger, who upset No. 6-rated Brandon Baker of Detroit Lakes 13-5 in a true-second match to qualify for state, ended his junior season with a 31-9 record. Grisell went on to defeat No. 2-ranked Matt Nelson of Big Lake 4-2 in overtime in the title match to finish with a 33-4 record. Nelson ended with a 37-1 record.