No. 3 Red Bulls wrestlers to tie-up at Maher Invitational
FAIRMONT — One point and a criteria decision kept the Red Bulls out of the state tournament last season one year after finishing second in Class AA.
This year the Class AA No. 3-ranked Fairmont/Martin County West Red Bulls will use that loss as motivation.
“Our ultimate goal is to make it to the state tournament and when we have talented teams, that’s one of the expectations that we’re all working toward,” Red Bulls head coach Adam Williamson said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out (last season). We had a couple of key injuries and Marshall had a really good end of their season and a good day. They ended up being state runner-up. Beating them in some tournaments and beating them earlier in the conference championship, it was a hard pill to swallow for some of our guys.
“For a lot of us, it’s just been motivation since then to work on the extra things, to work on strength, to work on what you can out of the season and try to get better. … We ended up salvaging a great end of the season individually.”
That individual success came in the form of eight Red Bulls going to the state tournament and four medaling in their weight classes.
Jaxson Rohman earned his third top-two finish at state when he finished second at 120 pounds last season. He won the 113-pound competition in 2018 and placed second at 106 in 2017. He also placed sixth at state as a seventh-grader.
Lucas Jagodzinske earned his first state medal, finishing third at 113 pounds last season. It was Jagodzinske’s second state individual appearance.
Payton Anderson earned his first state medal during his third tournament appearance with a fourth-place finish at 145.
Miles Fitzgerald earned his second state medal when he placed fourth at 152 last season.
Along with the four medalists, Connor Simmonds, Nathan Simmonds, Cale Steuber and then-senior Mario Maldonado all went to the state tournament as individuals.
Williamson said the experience his wrestlers bring from previous state tournaments gives the Red Bulls a leg up.
“We do bring back a ton of experience, a ton of talent on this team. Even the younger guys on this team have a lot of varsity experience and have been around this program long enough to know what we’re about and that we expect success,” Williamson said. “They’re all working with each other and working for those team goals. … All the kids that are vying for spots know that it has to be earned. We’re gonna start having challenges right away this week and some of those spots are not necessarily set in stone. We have a lot of good competition in our practice room and that helps make everybody better, too.”
While not every spot is predetermined, the Red Bulls bring back many talented wrestlers to fill the lineup.
Guillotine preseason No. 3-ranked 106-pounder Jesse Potts is back in the same weight class as last year after finishing third in the section.
Williamson said there will be competition at the 113-pound spot after Lucas Jagodzinske moved up a weight class. He said Kain Sanders has a lead on who will take the position, but it is open for multiple younger wrestlers.
Lucas Jagodzinske, who holds the Guillotine’s No. 4 spot at 126 pounds, drops to 120 and Rohman, who is currently ranked second at 120, moves up to 126.
Williamson said he doesn’t put much stock in preseason rankings, whether it’s the team’s third overall spot in Class AA or his wrestlers’ individual rankings, because many wrestlers are ranked at the incorrect weight.
“Rankings, to us, are fun to think about, but we don’t read too much into it,” Williamson said. “The rankings that matter most are the end of the season and who’s up there at the state tournament. Who ends up placing and who’s up there on the podium when it’s all said and done.”
Blake Jagodzinske will wrestle at 132 this season, while No. 8-ranked 132-pounder Connor Simmonds will take the 138-pound spot. Cale Steuber will wrestle at 145. Both the No. 2-ranked 152-pound Anderson and No. 3-rated 160-pounder Fitzgerald will take over in those weight classes.
Williamson said a newcomer to varsity, Michael Johnson, will likely take the 170-pound spot after No. 3-ranked 182-pounder Nathan Simmonds moved up.
Competition is likely at the 195-pound position, Williamson said. Garrett Myren held the spot in the lineup through last season, but freshman Max Olson and junior Shayne Steinbrink are the likely competitors for the position this year, Williamson said.
Jacob Rahn will return to his spot in the lineup at 220 pounds and Everardo Hernandez will fill the roll of heavyweight again for the Red Bulls.
Williamson said the Red Bulls will face tough competition in tournaments this year, but there is one major change from the tournament schedule last season.
“We are not going to Rochester (Christmas Tournament), we’re going to Fargo, North Dakota, going to the Rumble on the Red, which is probably a little bit bigger tournament than the Rochester Christmas Tournament,” Williamson said. “This is one we’ve wanted to get back to and see how we fare with more teams and mixed-up competition. … All-in-all, our tournament schedule is pretty tough. We’ll go after competition, that’s only going to make our kids better and our team better overall.”
The Red Bulls start the season, as they have for each of the past four years, at the Maher Invitational in Blue Earth at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Fairmont/Martin County West then hosts Redwood Valley and Waseca in triangular action at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont.