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Wrestling: Royals Braun, West podium at state

Austin Braun wrestles Centennial’s Tyler Shilson during the Class 3A third-place match Saturday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 2
Woodbury's Cole West tries to capture a crucial takedown during the third period of his fifth-place match at 106 pounds. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 2

Woodbury senior Austin Braun wrapped up his fifth and final state tournament appearance with a win Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Braun squared off with Centennial’s Tyler Shilson in the Class 3A third-place match, a wrestler who only had one loss all season heading into the state semifinals.

But it was Braun who was able to go on the attack, taking down Shilson twice in the first two periods to build a 4-3 lead.

He needed some last-second defense in the final 10 seconds as he successfully defended a takedown attempt by Shilson to wrap up a 6-5 decision. Unfortunately, the tie-up was costly as the Woodbury wrestler came away with some pain in his knee.

“When he took the shot, my knee popped,” Braun said.

Defense helped Braun hold off two crucial takedowns attempts. Braun lost a match to Shilson earlier this season, but he was able to use the experience to help him win on Saturday.

“I wrestled a lot smarter,” Braun said. “I knew that he likes the low shots, so I kept my distance and stayed lower.”

The victory wrapped up a state tournament in which Braun won his first two matches to earn a spot in the 145-pound semifinals. There he lost to previously undefeated Peyton Robb, the eventual second-place finisher. Braun defeated Apple Valley’s Nate Larson by a 7-3 decision in the wrestlebacks to give him a spot in the third-place match.

The 145-pound championship bracket was a daunting challenge for the Class 3A wrestlers heading into the tournament. Three of the wrestlers had one loss or fewer on the season heading into the state tournament.

“We were just looking at the bracket, and it’s probably the toughest bracket in the state tournament,” head coach Justin Smith said.

Braun wrapped up his high school wrestling career with the third place finish at state Saturday. The senior is headed to North Dakota State University next fall where he will wrestle with the Bison.

Woodbury makes a trip to Fargo every December for the Rumble on the Red tournament, and Braun said that helped him connect with NDSU wrestling.

“We got there for Fargo, and I got kind of used to that place,” he said. “They redid their weight room and their wrestling room, and I just liked it.”

West finishes sixth

Woodbury sophomore Cole West earned the first state tournament podium finish of his career after finishing sixth at 106 pounds this weekend.

West finished the tournament with a close 3-2 loss in the 106-pound fifth place match Saturday that came down to the final seconds against Maple Grove’s Joey Thompson. Thompson held a 3-0 lead with a takedown and an escape after two periods. West got an escape point, but Thompson was able to defend his takedown attempts needed to tie the match. Thompson was charged a point for stalling.

“He wasn’t really doing anything, he was kind of playing defensive because he was up,” West said. “It was a smart move on his part.”

The sophomore made a trip to state last season as well, and this is his first season finishing on the podium as a top-six placewinner.

West won his first two matches at 106 pounds to earn a spot in the state semifinals. But he was bounced to the wrestlebacks after losing an 8-1 decision to Apple Valley’s Regan Schrempp.

Although West achieved his goal of earning a spot on the podium, he felt conflicted about the results after being one match from the state finals.

“I feel like I probably should have wrestled better, I would have placed higher,” West said. “But I finished on the podium, that was kind of my goal.”

After earning his first all-state award, West hopes the experience will carry over into next season when he will be a junior.

“Being the semis showed me a little bit of what it takes to get to the finals,” West said.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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