United North Central head wrestling coach Jacob Oyster said the most impressive attribute about Ethan Hendrickson is that he expects to win every time he goes out on the mat.

“Ethan never thinks he should lose, and with that attitude and the amount of time and hard work he puts in, I don't think he should either,” said Oyster before the state tournament. “We have no reason to believe that Ethan isn't a title contender.”

It took a defending state champion to hand Hendrickson his first loss of the season in his final match of the season.

The Menahga junior advanced to the championship match of the state Class A tournament for the second year in a row. Hendrickson was once again denied a state title by a Sibley East opponent.

In last year’s state championship match at 113 pounds, Sibley East’s Derek Steele edged Hendrickson 4-2. In this year’s state championship match at 132 pounds, Sibley East’s Drayden Morton edged Hendrickson 3-2 in a battle of undefeated wrestlers at St. Michael-Albertville High School on Saturday, March 27.

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Morton entered the state tournament rated No. 1 in the state at 132 and as the No. 1 seed. Hendrickson was the No. 2 seed and rated No. 3 in the state poll.

The Sibley East junior, who won the state title at 120 last season, opened the championship match with a takedown at the 1:09 mark for a 2-0 lead after the first period. An escape by Hendrickson at the 1:26 mark of the second period made it 2-1. At the start of the third period, Hendrickson let Morton up for an escape and a 3-1 lead. Morton was called for stalling for the second time with 10 seconds left as Hendrickson closed the gap to 3-2, but the Menahga junior couldn’t record a takedown in the closing seconds and had to settle for runner-up honors for the second straight season.

Hendrickson opened the state quarterfinals with a 9-3 win over Frazee sophomore Jake Nagel. After Nagel opened the match with a takedown at the 1:18 mark, Hendrickson tied the bout with a reversal with 44 seconds to go in the first period. In the second period, an escape at the 1:11 mark and a takedown with 36 seconds to go gave Hendrickson a 5-2 lead. Hendrickson opened the third period with a takedown with 1:28 remaining. After an escape by Nagel with 1:23 left, Hendrickson sealed the win with a takedown at the 1:06 mark. Hendrickson defeated Nagel 6-1 to win the title at the Section 7A-8A Super Regionals as both were among the eight wrestlers at 132 to qualify for state.

In the semifinals, Hendrickson edged Tracy-Milroy-Balaton-Westbrook-Walnut Grove junior Ayden Horner 2-1. After a scoreless first period, Hendrickson was awarded a penalty point when Horner was called for stalling for the second time at the 1:20 mark and followed with an escape at the 1:02 mark for a 2-0 lead. Horner escaped with 1:41 to go in the third period to make it 2-1 before Hendrickson hung on for the win and a trip to the finals.

Morton prevailed in the championship match to cap off a 33-0 season. Hendrickson finished at 34-1. Horner, who was rated No. 2 in the state poll and was the No. 3 seed, defeated Coy Gunderson of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 3-1 for third place while Dover-Eyota’s Brodie Kellen defeated BOLD’s Austin Kiecker 5-3 in overtime for fifth place. Horner, who placed fourth at 120 last season, ended with a 39-3 record. Gunderson, who placed sixth at 113 last season and was rated No. 5 in the state poll and was the No. 4 seed, finished with a 34-6 record. Kellen went 31-5 and Kiecker finished at 21-5. Kellen was rated No. 6 in the state and was the No. 5 seed while Kiecker was rated No. 10 in the state and was the No. 6 seed.

Hendrickson earned his third straight state medal after placing sixth at 106 in 2019.

McGee, Carlson go 0-2

Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis’ Dawson McGee and UNC’s Torrey Carlson failed to reach the podium after losing both of their matches at the state tournament.

McGee opened with a 15-4 major decision loss to Pipestone Area freshman Hudson Burnett, who was rated No. 3 in the state poll and was the No. 3 seed at 113. Burnett opened with a takedown at the 1:48 mark before McGee escaped with 26 seconds left. A takedown by Burnett with :04 showing made it 4-1 after the first period. McGee had a pair of escapes at the 1:30 and :54 marks, but takedowns at the 1:11 and :23 marks gave Burnett an 8-3 advantage after the second period. Burnett sealed the win with a reversal at the 1:09 mark, a takedown with 55 seconds left and a nearfall with :08 remaining. McGee had an escape with 58 seconds to go.

In the consolation semifinals, McGee dropped an 8-2 decision to Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville sophomore Gavin Albers, the No. 2 seed who was rated No. 6 in the state poll. Albers jumped out to a 4-1 lead with takedowns at the 1:39 and :48 marks. McGee had an escape with 1:26 left in the opening period. Two more takedowns by Albers at the 1:46 and :32 marks extended the lead to 8-2 as McGee escaped with 1:04 left in the second period. A scoreless third period ended McGee’s season. McGee entered as the No. 6 seed.

Burnett pinned Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City’s Jevon Williams in 5:01 in the title match, Jackson County Central’s Kie Anderson defeated Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parker Prairie’s David Revering 2-0 for third place, and Albers defeated Deer River’s Zach Ikola 5-3 for fifth place. Burnett ended with a 33-2 record while Williams, who placed fifth at 106 last season and was the top-rated wrestler at 113, finished at 31-5. Anderson (who was rated No. 2 and was the No. 7 seed) ended with a 38-4 record while Revering (who was rated No. 5 and seeded No. 5) ended at 36-6. Albers capped off a 34-2 season while Ikola, the No. 4 seed, finished at 28-6.

McGee, who qualified for his second state tournament as the runner-up at the Super Regionals, compiled a 25-11 record this season.

“Dawson opened up with the eventual state champion then he wrestled the eventual fifth place finisher. Dawson had a great season, but met some wrestlers that were very good on their feet,” said Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis head coach Colby Marich. “We talked after the matches about areas that we need to improve, and I am very excited to hear Dawson's goals for next year. He is not complacent with just making it to the state tournament. He has goals to get back and to bring back a medal. I am excited for the next couple years with Dawson and the rest of our young team. I hope that we can stay healthy and we all hope that we get back to some sort of normalcy next season.”

Carlson opened the 195 bracket with a 9-4 loss to Benson sophomore Thomas Dineen, who was rated No. 1 in the state poll and the No. 1 seed. A takedown by Dineen at the 1:43 mark, an escape by Carlson at the 1:17 mark, a takedown by Dineen with :53 left and an escape by Carlson with :15 showing gave Dineen a 4-2 lead after the first period. An escape at the 1:54 mark and a takedown with 44 seconds left extended Dineen’s lead to 7-2 after the second period. After Carlson opened the third period with an escape at the 1:55 mark, Dineen’s takedown with 1:17 to go sealed the win. Carlson escaped with :46 remaining to conclude the scoring.

In the consolation semifinals, Carlson was denied a chance to wrestle for fifth place when a reversal by Jackson County Central sophomore Caleb Vancura with :04 remaining in the match produced a 2-1 decision. After a scoreless first period, an escape by Carlson at the 1:30 mark of the second period gave the Sebeka junior a 1-0 lead. Carlson held that lead until Vancura’s late reversal.

Dineen posted an 8-0 major decision over Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Ethan Kovars in the title match, Kimball’s Carter Holtz defeated Kenyan-Wanamingo’s Carter Quam 10-2 for third place and Crookston’s Ethan Boll defeated Vancura 10-3 for fifth place. Dineen capped off a 38-0 season while Kovars ended at 30-2 as the No. 3 seed and rated No. 5 in the state poll. Holtz (who was rated No. 4 and was the No. 5 seed) finished with a 31-4 mark while Quam (who was rated No. 5 at 220 pounds and was the No. 7 seed) ended at 28-5. Boll (the No. 2 seed who was rated No. 3 in the state poll) posted a 38-3 record while Vancura (the No. 4 seed who was rated No. 9 in the state poll) finished with a 31-4 mark. Dineen placed fifth while Boll finished sixth at 182 at last year’s state tournament.

Carlson, who qualified for state as the runner-up at the Super Regionals, ended the season with a 22-8 record.