Wrestling: Six Royals are state-bound
The Woodbury wrestling team will be well-represented at this weekend's Class 3A state individual wrestling tournament.
Led by three section champions, Woodbury had six wrestlers qualify for the state meet.
Cole West, Brady Moesenthin and Austin Braun finished on top of their weight brackets to win section championships. Brock Rinehart, Gavin Bradley and Andrew French finished in second place to also earn spots at state.
Head coach Justin Smith credited those six state-bound wrestlers for the hard work they put in during the regular season.
"They made their paths during the regular season as far as setting themselves up and putting themselves in a spot where they can be successful," Smith said.
Braun wrapped up his first-place finish at 145 pounds with a pin three minutes, 17 seconds into his match against Marcus McGinley of Eagan. The Woodbury senior felt good about how the weekend of wrestling went after picking up wins by a technical fall and a pin on his way to the 145-pound championship match.
"I think I wrestled pretty dominantly," Braun said. "That's how I want to go into the state tournament. Dominant."
This weekend will be Braun's fifth career appearance in the Class 3A state wrestling tournament.
Brady Moesenthin won a close 4-3 decision against Hastings' Croix Mader to finish in first place in the 120-pound bracket. The Royals' sophomore got a takedown in the final 20 seconds of his championship match to take a 4-2 lead. Mader escaped but was not able to get a crucial takedown as the clock expired.
"I knew to stay calm the entire match and wrestle the way I wrestle," Moesenthin said.
Cole West won a 6-3 decision against East Ridge's Hunter Lyden to earn a section championship. West cruised to the finals with a pin in the quarterfinals and a technical fall in the semifinals.
West was already focused on the state meet after wrapping up a section title at 106 pounds.
"I like how I wrestled this weekend, I feel good about it," West said. "But this really wasn't my main goal."
Two Royals needed to win true second-place matches to earn a spot at state.
Wrestlers who are coming off a loss in a section championship match sometimes face the challenge of refocusing when a true second-place match is necessary. A true second-place match is required when a third-place wrestler in a section bracket has not faced the loser of the championship match.
Both French at 182 pounds and Rinehart at 138 faced opponents who had previously won third-place matches. But both wrestlers won by fall to wrap up second.
"The emotions are totally opposite," Smith said. "So you've got to refocus yourself and settle in, make sure you are ready to battle. Credit to Andrew and credit to Brock, they refocused and got things done."
Bradley did not need a true second-place match as he finished as the runner-up at 152 pounds.
The Class 3A state individual tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.