2/28/2013 12:34:00 PM 11 county wrestlers heading to state tourney
BY CHUCK FITZER
Southern Chisago County will be well represented at the individual state high school wrestling tournament this Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. In all, eleven wrestlers – seven from Chisago Lakes and four from North Branch – became state tournament entrants for Class AA at last weekend’s section tournament, held at Hibbing High School.
The Class AA opening round matches will take place tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Other matches will take place throughout tomorrow and Saturday depending on the results of the opening matches. Wildcat head coach Shawn Frederixon and Viking head coach Jim Hoard and their assistants are hoping to see their wrestlers place and maybe come out with a state champ or two.
Please see mshsl.org and the guillotine.com for more information on times and matchups. Five Wildcats won section championships: freshman Kyle Schoenecker (113), a third time state entrant; sophomore Dylan Connell (120), second time; senior Quade Zupko (138), fourth time; sophomore Joe Virga (160), second time; and senior Jonah Westbury (285), second time. Two other Wildcats were runners-up and will be making their first state tournament appearance: junior Mark Sontag (152) and senior Eric Brown (195).
Three other Wildcats also placed at the section tournament, including freshman Aaron Sistrunk (106), third place; freshman Mike Bliskowski (132), sixth place; and junior Mike Sampson (170), sixth place.
Viking senior Zach Sundly (195) beat Brown to win the section championship and will make his first appearance at the state tournament. Three Viking runners up will join Sundly in St. Paul this weekend for their initial appearances at state: junior Reid Johnson (126), senior Sam Peltier (160) and senior Eric Bergstrom (220). The Vikings had seven other placewinners at sections: sophomore Kody Strohmayer (106) sixth place; junior Aaron Senne (132), fourth place; senior Jake Pilz (138), third place; sophomore Cameron Sampson (145), sixth place; junior Tristan LaBelle (170), fourth place; senior Levi Eastwood (182), fourth place; and junior Seamus Hunter (285), third place.
VIKINGS VS. WILDCATS: HEAD-TO-HEAD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHES The championship match at 160 between Joe Virga, ranked seventh in Class AA, and Sam Peltier provided plenty of excitement. Virga shot for the legs and took down Peltier halfway through the first period for a 2-0 lead. A few seconds later, Peltier went for a reversal and slammed Virga on his back, nearly pinning Virga right away and tying the score at 2-2. As Peltier continued to work for the pin, a stunned Virga was hanging by a thread, barely holding his left shoulder off the mat. Virga gathered himself and reversed Peltier at 1:46. Peltier was awarded a three point near fall and led 5-4 at the end of the first period. Virga started on the bottom in the second period. He escaped at 2:16 to tie things up at 5-5. Both wrestlers attempted takedowns over the next minute or so. At 3:15, Virga grabbed Peltier’s right leg, pulled it up and took Peltier down for two points and a 7-5 lead. Peltier started on the bottom in the third period. He thwarted Virga’s moves for the first thirty seconds of the period, but then Virga rolled over Peltier and put him on his back. Virga was awarded a three point near fall at 4:42 and now led 10-5. Virga rode Peltier out for the rest of the period, picking up a two point near fall at the end to make the final score 12-5. Virga was on his way to state as the section champ. Peltier did not have to wrestle for true second since he had already beaten third place Alex Seanger of Grand Rapids 3-1 earlier in the day, so Peltier was also on his way to the Xcel as section runner up.
The match between Zack Sundly, ranked eighth in Class AA, and Eric Brown at 195 was tight until the third period. Neither wrestler scored in the first period. Sundly started on the bottom and got onto the scoreboard with an escape at 2:22. Brown grabbed Sundly’s leg near the edge of the circle at 3:05, held it up and worked to take him down, but the wrestlers tumbled out of bounds at 3:19 and the score remained tied. Sundly grabbed a hold of Brown later in the period, but didn’t complete the takedown until the two had run too far out of bounds. Sundly clung to a 1-0 lead after two. Brown started on the bottom in the third period and Sundly took control of the match almost right away. He turned Brown onto his back at 4:15 and nearly pinned him. Brown kept his shoulder off the mat, and Sundly was awarded a three point near fall at 4:39. Sundly kept up the pressure and got two more points for a near fall and a 6-0 lead at 5:17. Brown stood up at 5:40, but Sundly hauled him back down right away as the two tumbled out of bounds to keep the score at 6-0. Brown did manage an escape a few seconds after the restart, making the final score Sundly 6, Brown 1. Sundly was a first time section champ! “I was pretty confident going into the tournament,” said Sundly. “I expected to win it all. It didn’t matter who I was going against. But that’s not to take anything away from the other wrestlers. Brown was a tough opponent and I had to wrestle my best to beat him. I am confident I can hang with the best at the state tournament.” Brown did not have to wrestle for true second since he had already beaten third place Will Rusch of Grand Rapids 3-1 earlier in the day, so Brown was also on his way to the Xcel as section runner up.
OTHER SECTION CHAMPIONS Wildcat Kyle Schoenecker (113), ranked seventh in Class AA, dominated his first three opponents before taking on Ray Hoffman of Milaca in the championship match. Schoenecker took down Hoffman 11 seconds into the match and added a couple of near falls to take a 6-1 lead at the end of the first period. Schoenecker started on the bottom on the second period and came close to losing the match. Hoffman got Schoenecker in a vulnerable position and was awarded a two point near fall at 2:58 to cut Schoenecker’s lead to 6-3. Schoenecker received a stall warning with ten seconds left in the period. Schoenecker started on the bottom again in the third period and didn’t waste any time. He reversed Hoffman and was awarded three near fall points at 4:34 to increase his lead to a commanding 11-3. A pair of reversals made the final score 13-5 and Schoenecker was on his way to his third state tournament appearance in a row. Wildcat Dylan Connell (120), ranked fifth in Class AA, won by technical fall and pin over his first two opponents before facing David Brenden of Grand Rapids in the final. 30 seconds into the first period, Connell grabbed Brenden’s leg and held it up in the air. At 50 seconds, he dropped Brenden to the mat for a takedown and a 2-0 lead. Connell started on the bottom in the second period and reversed Brenden at 2:10 to go up 4-0. He smothered Brenden for the rest of the period to maintain the four point lead. The wrestlers started on their feet in the third period. Brenden never made any significant offensive moves and Connell was happy to dance with Brenden the whole period, winning the match 4-0 to head for the state tournament for the second year in a row.
Quade Zupko (138), a senior captain for the Wildcats and ranked fifth in Class AA, became the first Wildcat to qualify for a state tournament appearance four years in a row since the legendary Dan Dellwo in 1995. Zupko pinned and majored his first two opponents before facing Nick Bruss of Nashwauk Keewatin Greenway in the championship final. Late in the first period, Zupko grabbed Bruss’s right ankle and his left knee. He spun Bruss around and shoved, taking him to the ground for a takedown and a 2-0 lead at 1:40. Zupko started on the bottom in the second and escaped at 3:16 to go up 3-0. In the third period, Bruss started on the bottom and escaped at 1:41 to cut Zupko’s lead to 3-1. At 5:10, Bruss grabbed Zupko’s leg but couldn’t take him down and the wrestlers walked out of bounds. Just after the referee blew the whistle, Bruss head butted Zupko. The referee didn’t call a foul, saying it was inadvertent (it was clearly intentional) and the Wildcat coaches were livid. Once things calmed down a minute or so later and it was clear that Zupko was all right, the match continued. Zupko hung on for a 3-1 lead and is going back to the tournament. Wildcat Jonah Westbury (285), ranked fourth in Class AA, pinned his way to state. Cole Walters of Grand Rapids lasted just 15 seconds against Westbury. The Vikings’ Seamus Hunter hung in there for 44 seconds. In the championship match against Brandon Merten of Milaca, the score was tied 0-0 at the end of one. Westbury started on the bottom in the second period and immediately escaped to take a 1-0 lead. At 2:30, Westbury nearly took down Walters, but Walters got back up. Westbury took him right back down and completed the takedown to go up 3-0. Walters never had a chance as Westbury held him on his back and completed the pin at 3:06 to win the section championship and his second straight trip to the state tournament.
OTHER RUNNERS UP Viking Reid Johnson (126) won his first three matches, including two by first period pins, before running into sixth ranked Tone Fuenffinger of Hibbing in the championship match. Johnson gave Fuenffinger all he could handle. Late in the first period, Johnson turned around a move by Fuenffinger and almost completed a takedown before the wrestlers tumbled out of bounds. Fuenffinger started on the bottom in the third period and completed a reversal immediately for a 2-0 lead. He rode Johnson for much of the period. Johnson got a reversal at 5:39 to tie the score at 2-2, but Fuenffinger reversed Johnson at 5:49 to go back on top 4-2. Fuenffinger hung on for the win, sending Johnson to a true second place match against Mike Hoffman of Milaca. Two first period takedowns gave Johnson a 4-1 lead. Hoffman cut the lead to 5-3 with an escape at 4:40. But Johnson wrestled smartly for the rest of the period, never allowing Hoffman an opening. Johnson took down Hoffman with ten seconds left in the match to take a 7-3 lead. One Hoffman escape and ten seconds later, Johnson had a win and trip to the Xcel.
Wildcat Mark Sontag (152), ranked ninth in Class AA, had the longest road to the state tournament, having to wrestle six matches to earn the trip. After pinning his first two opponents, Sontag lost a 3-2 decision to Reed Gmahl of Mora in the semifinals. A determined Sontag wrestled with controlled rage as he pinned Austin Nelson of Grand Rapids and majored Aaron Moscho of Milaca to earn the right to face Orin Holmbeck of Nashwauk Keewatin Greenway in the true second place match. With the score tied 0-0 after one, Sontag started on the bottom in the second period. He nearly escaped three times before was penalized for an illegal hold at 3:05 and trailed 1-0. But Sontag got a reversal at 3:30 to go on top 2-1. Halfway through the third period, Sontag thwarted a reversal attempts by Holmbeck and hung on to his slim lead. At 5:38, Sontag’s hard work throughout the match paid off as he got a two point near fall for a 4-1 lead and a little breathing room. The match was over a few seconds later and Sontag was on his way to St. Paul, matching the trip his brother Bobby made as a senior last year.
Viking Eric Bergstrom (220) was the last wrestler from southern Chisago County to qualify for the state tournament. After a pin and a major in his first two matches, Bergstrom ran into Jacob Lynch of Rush City/Braham in the championship match and was pinned at 3:01. Bergstrom matched up with Brady Beier of Mora in the true second place match. Borgstrom trailed 2-1 going into the second period and started on top. He picked up two three point near falls in the period – a very quick one at the beginning and another one with 14 seconds left to take a 7-2 lead. Bergstrom led 9-3 late in the third when a desperate Lynch tried to shoot his knees. But Bergstrom turned it around on Lynch and ended up with a takedown of his own to make the final score 11-3 and qualified for the trip to state. CLOSE CALLS Three wrestlers had third place finishes. Wildcat Aaron Sistrunk (106) lost 6-4 in overtime to Morgan Fuenffinger of Hibbing in the semifinals. Sistrunk won his next two matches, but Fuenffinger lost in the championship match so there was no true second place match for Sistrunk. Viking Jake Pilz (138) had a similar path. He lost to Nick Bruss of Nashwauk Keewatin Greenway in the semifinals. He beat his next two opponents, but Bruss lost in the championship match so there was no true second place match for Pilz.
Viking Seamus Hunter (285) lost his semifinal match to Jonah Westbury of Chisago Lakes. He won his next two matches and was rewarded with a true second place match against Brandon Merten of Milaca. Hunter lost 6-4 to Merten to end up in third place. Wildcat head coach Shawn Frederixon commented on some of the events of the day.
“Mark Sontag was in a tough spot in the semis. He went out and took care of business. I haven’t seen him wrestle like that for quite a while. It was fun to see that kid show up again. Sam Peltier of the Vikings is a very good wrestler who has fought through some injuries the past couple of years. He had Joe Virga pretty good, but Joe was able to fight out of that headlock. Zack Sundly of the Vikings has been around and knows what he’s doing. Against Brown, he took his time and stayed in control. When Eric made a mistake, Zack took advantage of it and worked his way into a section championship. As for Brown, we were just hoping to get some good matches out of him this year. But he had a great attitude and exceeded our expectations. “Kyle Schoenecker’s opponent, Ray Hoffman, tried to bully him around but Kyle showed him right away that wasn’t going to happen. Dylan Connell wrestles tough and very few wrestlers can find a way to score on him. Quade is 42-1 on the season. He steps it up a notch against tougher competition. He worked through the tourney doing exactly what he needed to do to beat each kid. For his last opponent to only get one chance at a takedown the whole match is pretty demoralizing for that kid. Quade hasn’t’ given up anything to anybody all year. And Westbury was dominant, clearly showing that he was the best heavyweight in the section.”