State meet to kick off Friday in St. Paul

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Otter Tail Central stands came alive on Saturday after Kale Rich earned a pin over Hunter Strom of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie on Saturday. Rich went on to pin Sawyer Wedde of New York Mills in the championship match to advance to state.

The Otter Tail Central Bulldog wrestlers went to Wadena-Deer Creek High School on Saturday for the Section 6A individual wrestling tournament with dreams of punching their ticket to the state wrestling tournament in St.Paul, Minn. That dream came true for four OTC wrestlers.  

The first was Logan Schleske at 152 lbs. Schleske started the day off right by winning his first match by pin over Eli Benning of Wadena-Deer Creek. This put Schleske in the semifinals to face Kale Drevlow of Osakis. Drevlow had beaten Schleske during the regular season, so this was also a revenge match for Schleske.  

The match started off with a quick takedown from Schleske and he didn’t look back after that. After accumulating a 13-2 lead, Schleske ended the match with a pin in the third period.  

The victory sent Schleske to the finals to face Dane Niemi of New York Mills. Schleske came out wrestling tough, but came up just a bit short in this match losing 9-2, but the second place finish qualified him for the state tournament.  

Brien Poser works for position against Patrick Forcier of Border West on Saturday.

“Logan had a very good day.  He had a great plan for his match in the semis and he executed it in dominating fashion.  I was very pleased with the way Logan finished his season,” said head coach Jason Rogers.

The second Bulldog to qualify for the state tournament was Jaxon Rich at 160 lbs. Rich was the top seed in his bracket and received a bye in the first round. This put him in the semifinals against another Osakis wrestler Tyson Hagedon. Rich jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead after the first period. Hagedon then hit a 5-point reversal early in the 2nd, to bring the score to 7-6.  

“I got a little nervous after that move.  Jaxon had a six point lead and I was hoping that he could just coast to the win, but that 5-point move made it interesting,” saidRogers.  

After some back and forth the final score ended up being 13-8 in favor of Rich, sending him to the finals. His opponent for the finals was Ashton Danner from West Central Area.  Rich took Danner down pretty early in the match and ended the match with a cradle in the first period. This is his first ever tournament championship.

The next Bulldog to qualify for the state tournament was Tristan Evavold at 195 lbs.  Evavold had been nursing a football injury all season and this was Evavold’s first live action of the season. He had received a few forfeits prior to this tournament, but had not actually wrestled anyone yet this year.  

Evavold also received a first round bye, so his first match was in the semifinals against Braeden Peterson of New York Mills. Evavold executed a beautiful takedown and put Peterson to his back getting a first period pin. This put Evavold in the finals against Will Rustan of West Central Area. 

Anthony Rousu took on Elijah Geiser of New York Mills in the consolation bracket on Saturday.

Just like his first match, Evavold came out and took down Rustan and put him on his back, but Rustan was able to escape the pin.  This put the score at 4-0 at the end of the first period.  Rustan was then able to get a takedown and back points of his own, making the score 4-4.  Evavold then got a reversal and eventually put Rustan on his back again, gaining the fall and a section championship.  

“My biggest worry for Tristan going into this tournament was his conditioning.  You can be in shape and be strong, but there is being in wrestling shape and without having any live wrestling so far this season I thought it could play a role.  But Tristan fought through it and gained his first Section Championship,” said Rogers.

The last Bulldog to earn a trip to state was Kale Rich at 285 lbs. After receiving a first round bye, Rich wrestled Hunter Strom from Bertha Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie. After controlling much of the match Rich finally secured a pin in the third period. This sent Rich to the finals to face Sawyer Wedde of New York Mills.  Rich had wrestled him earlier in the season and lost, so this was a revenge match for him.  

After ending the first period 0-0, Wedde chose down and Rich was able to ride him the whole period and the score was still 0-0, going into the third.  Rich chose the down position and got an escape pretty quickly, he then got Wedde a little off guard and was able to throw him to his back and get the pin. This gave Rich his first tournament championship and a trip to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  

“Kale had been wrestling at 220 most of the season, but after looking at things, we decided that maybe heavyweight would be a better opportunity for him and Kale took full advantage of that opportunity,” said Rogers.

Other wrestlers that made the podium this year were:  Mason Christianson fifth place at 120 lbs., Conner Nelson fifth place at 132 lbs., Brien Poser third at 138 lbs. and William Schwartz sixth place at 182 lbs.  

“I was very pleased with the way that all the Bulldogs wrestled today.  Some of the boys did better than they expected to and that was fun to see,” said Rogers.

The state tournament starts this Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Class A action should start right around 11 a.m.