Four Red Bulls medal at state wrestling meet
ST. PAUL — Four Fairmont/Martin County West Red Bulls stepped onto the podium at the Class AA individual state wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Arena in St. Paul on Saturday.
No. 2-ranked 120-pounder Jaxson Rohman, No. 5-ranked 113-pounder Lucas Jagodzinske, No. 7-ranked 145-pounder Payton Anderson and 152-pounder Miles Fitzgerald all donned medals at the end of the tournament.
Rohman finished as the runner-up in the 120-pound bracket. The Red Bulls’ sophomore started Day 2 of the tournament with a 7-3 semifinal decision over No. 7-ranked Rocco Visci of Big Lake. Rohman used three takedowns and an escape to build his seven points.
The win put Rohman in the finals where he faced No. 1-ranked 120-pounder Chase DeBlaere of Simley.
Rohman forced a takedown to take the lead in the first period, but after an escape of that takedown and one from the down starting position at the beginning of the second period, DeBlaere tied the match at 2.
The two started the third period in the neutral position, but a takedown and three-point near fall put DeBlaere ahead 7-2, which was all he would need. Rohman added three points on an escape and a takedown, but was unable to overcome the deficit.
Fairmont/MCW head coach Adam Williamson said after a strong season, Rohman had a great performance in the state meet.
“Jaxson was a beast this year,” Williamson said. “He finished with another whirlwind performance. He made his third state finals match and gave every effort to win, but fell just shy of his goal.”
Jagodzinske finished third in the 113-pound bracket during Saturday’s state action.
No. 1-ranked 113-pounder Joey Thompson of Totino-Grace forced a 15-0 technical fall in the semifinals to send Jagodzinske to the wrestlebacks.
Thompson went on to beat Byron’s Maxwell Peterson in the finals and take the 113-pound championship.
Jagodzinske recovered from the loss to stick St. Paul Johnson’s Yim-Leej Yang’s shoulders to the mat at the 1:53 mark to move on to the 113-pound third-place match.
Kasson-Mantorville’s No. 3-ranked 113-pounder Logan Vaughan took a 7-6 lead into the final period, but Jagodzinske escaped from the starting down position to tie the match. Jagodzinske then took Vaughan to the mat with 40 seconds left to create a 9-7 decision and claim the bronze medal.
Williamson said Jagodzinske fought through pain to place third.
“Lucas had a great tournament,” Williamson said. “He fought through some pain and ended up avenging a previous loss in the third-place match, which we were all ecstatic about.”
Fitzgerald’s first match during Day 2 came against Perham’s No. 2-ranked 152-pounder Dylan Fudge, who took a 3-1 semifinal decision to send Fitzgerald to the wrestlebacks.
Waconia’s No. 1-ranked 152-pounder Tim Stapleton took an 11-2 major decision over Fudge in the 152-pound championship.
No. 6-ranked Connor Thorsten of Foley battled Fitzgerald in the semifinals, with the two starting the third period tied at 2, but Fitzgerald was able to force two takedowns and a near fall in the final period to build a 10-6 decision and move on to the 152-pound third-place match.
In the third-place bout, Fitzgerald faced No. 3-ranked Simley’s Gavin Nelson. The two tied at 1 midway into the final period, but Nelson took Fitzgerald to the mat with under a minute left and, though he escaped, Fitzgerald could not make up the points. Nelson took a 3-2 decision and Fitzgerald claimed fourth place.
Williamson said he and the coaches are proud of Fitzgerald for improving his position from last year’s state tournament.
“Miles wrestled his tail off at the state tournament and improved on his sixth-place finish last year by placing fourth,” Williamson said. “We’re so proud of his finish to the year.”
Anderson’s day started in the wrestleback quarterfinals against Thief River Falls’ Jake Davis.
Anderson took Davis down four times and escaped from the down starting position in the second period to take a 9-2 decision.
Anderson advanced to the wrestleback semifinals against No. 8-ranked 145-pounder Tucker Gifferson of Hutchinson, with the two grapplers battling to a 1-1 tie late in the final period.
Anderson, however, took Gifferson to the mat with 48 seconds left and held on to take a 3-1 decision and head to the third-place match.
For the ninth time in their careers and the fourth time this season, Anderson and No. 2-ranked 145-pounder Sean Howk of New Ulm Area battled, this time for third place in the state tournament.
Anderson forced a reversal from the down starting position in the second period to take a 2-0 lead, but Howk escaped. The New Ulm Area grappler then escaped from the down starting position in the third period to tie the match at 2-all and force the match into sudden-victory overtime.
The pair jockeyed back and forth for control until Howk took Anderson down with 17 seconds left in the overtime period to claim a 4-2 decision and put Anderson in the fourth spot on the 145-pound podium.
Williamson said Anderson finished a strong season with solid leadership.
“Payton had an awesome season and he topped it off with a fourth-place medal,” Williamson said. “He showed great leadership all throughout the year for his teammates.”
Nathan Simmonds faced Jace Demmers of Scott West in the 160-pound wrestleback quarterfinals on Saturday and lost a 2-0 decision when Demmers forced a reversal during the second period.
In Class A action, Blue Earth Area’s Jaxen Klinkner faced Paynesville Area’s Shawn Rue in the 138-pound wrestleback quarterfinals on Saturday.
Rue took a 2-1 decision when he forced a reversal late in the second period and held control through the final seconds.
Williamson said he was proud to have the Red Bulls collect so much hardware at the state tournament and that it is a testament to the wrestlers’ hard work.
“It’s a great feeling to have a group like this at the state tournament,” Williamson said. “It shows the kids that their time and hard work pay off and that they can wrestle with the best. I’m so proud of our team and the success we had this season.
“These guys have such big goals and push so hard to get to state. They will all come back stronger than ever and get right to work on next year’s goals. We’ll make every effort to get the team back to the Xcel.”