Local wrestlers set for individual section
Fourth-seeded East Ridge put a bit of a scare into top-seeded Hastings Friday before falling in the 2018 Class AAA Section team tournament held Friday at Cretin-Derham Hall.
The Raptors wrestled well but dropped a 39-22 decision to the eventual state qualifier in the section team semifinals.
Hastings edged Eagan 28-25 in the section finals to advance to state, winning the match on a pin at 285.
East Ridge dominated the lower weights in its match against Hastings, but the Raiders got rolling starting at 145 pounds, winning seven of the last eight matches.
"I think our kids fought hard," said East Ridge coach Matt Everson. "We came into the match with a little chip on our shoulder. I thought we were a better team than what we were seeded and had to face Hastings in the semis. That's fine for us because we thought we had an opportunity to beat them. We had an opportunity to knock them off.
"Some things didn't go our way that match but some things did," Everson added. "We had to make some moves late in the dual that I don't think we were planning on making that kind of made the score look a little bit different. But that's kind of the way the duals go, you've got to work on the fly and try to score points where you can."
East Ridge's second-ranked Ryder Rogotzke pinned Hastings wrestler Aiden Erickson at 113 pounds and teammate Zach LaCore had a stunning reversal which led to a pin at 132 pounds over Hastings's Lynden Wilson.
"He (LaCore) went out a weight class heavy, so he wrestled 138 and he pinned the kid," said Everson. "He pinned the kid when he was down by 10 points. That's huge. That's a game changer. We were expecting to win a couple more matches down low and losing a couple of our first few matches put us in a position where we were down and he was able to go out and pick those points back up for us."
Eighth-ranked Hunter Lyden of the Raptors scored a 14-5 major decision at 120 pounds over Eagan's Croix Mader. Also winning for the Raptors against Hastings were eight-ranked Roman Rogotzke at 138 and Ethan Pittman at 170 pounds.
In the preliminary rounds, seventh-seeded Woodbury dominated 10th-seeded St. Paul Central, winning 69-6. The Royals then ran into an Eagan buzz saw and lost 54-12.
Third-seeded Park also did well in its opener and dropped sixth-seeded Henry Sibley 40-30. East Ridge bopped fifth-seeded Bloomington Kennedy 45-30 in the semifinals to advance.
Park's Noah Johnson had a pair of pins at 195 pounds to highlight the day for the Wolfpack. Johnson saved the best for last in his match against Eagan's ninth-ranked Antwann McClenty, pinning him at the 5:51 mark of the third period.
Fourth-ranked Garrett Whitehead of the Wolfpack had a pin and then an 8-7 decision over Eagan's Drew Allred at 160 pounds. Peter Oyebanji had a major decision and then a 10-4 win over Eagan's Andrew Wick at 145 pounds. Solomon Lankow (138) and Josh Ruiz (145) also had pins for Park against Henry Sibley.
Park's eighth-ranked Antonio Davis had a 3-2 win against Henry Sibley, but was upset by Eagan's Antonio Stepan 4-0 in the second match.
"Our seniors kind of stepped up again and set the tone," said Park coach Jim LaBrosse. "So it was good to see that in the last match of the year. I just told the guys we were 14-14 in duals coming into this last match against Eagan. From a year ago, it was a big turnaround, especially in the last month and a half. So I'm really proud of these guys and we're pretty young. We've got a lot of tenth graders running up there on the mat right now. So I think the next couple of years will be a lot of fun for Park."
Woodbury's Cole West, fifth-ranked Brock Rinehart and Max Fick all picked up two victories Friday. West had a pair of pins at 112 pounds. Rinehart had a forfeit and a 12-6 victory at 145 and Fick had a pin and then a clutch 3-1 overtime win over Eagan's Antonio Stepan.
Next up for the East Ridge, Park and Woodbury wrestlers is the Section 3AA individual tournament, set for East Ridge High School Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24. The tournament starts at 4 p.m. Friday and continues starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.