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Ehrich, Klinkner reach milestones

Two more have joined the long list of Blue Earth Area wrestlers with 100 career wins.

During the Swalla Duals on Jan. 25, Class A No. 4-ranked 160-pounder Max Ehrich and No. 6-ranked 145-pounder Jaxen Klinkner each reached their century wins.

Both Ehrich and Klinkner said they knew their milestones were coming.

“I wouldn’t say it (getting to 100 wins) was super important,” Ehrich said. “I kind of knew it was coming from last year. I think I was around 87 wins at the end of last year, so I knew I was probably going to get it this year.”

“I did know my 100th win was coming up,” Klinkner said. “All I have to say is that all the hard work and dedication I put into the sport finally paid off because not a lot of wrestlers can get to 100 wins.”

The pair have helped lead the Bucs to a sixth-place spot in the Guillotine’s Class A team rankings — the highest of any Section 2 teams.

Last season, Klinkner led the Bucs in wins and advanced to the Class A state individual tournament in the 138-pound bracket. Klinkner placed second in the Section 2A individual tournament to reach the state meet.

He battled to a 7-6 loss in the opening round against eventual fourth-place finisher Tyler Bents from Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa before pinned Staples Motley’s Blayne Dumpprope.

Every year, BEA head coach Randy Wirtjes has wrestlers create individual goals for the season. Klinkner said two of his for the 2019-20 season are to make it back to the individual state tournament and end on the podium.

Ehrich’s goals are similar, but for him going to the state tournament would be his first experience. Ehrich has built momentum throughout the season, winning the 160-pound bracket during the Big South Conference individual meet and posting a 3-0 individual record at the Swalla Duals in Kasson.

Ehrich posted wins over St. James Area’s then Class A No. 6-ranked 160-pounder Tallin Johnson and Marshall’s then Class AA No. 8-ranked 160-pounder Grant Louwagie to claim BSC gold, including a late escape and a takedown with six seconds remaining to beat Louwagie via an 8-6 decision.

Though he’s risen through the rankings and taken down multiple ranked opponents in big moments, Ehrich said he doesn’t think about rankings too much.

“A lot of things can happen,” Ehrich said. “Kids can get injured, a lot of upsets can happen. Guys can beat kids they’re ranked lower than and it happens quite often. I don’t really pay much attention to that.”

While Ehrich may not put much stock in rankings, he and Klinkner are set up well in the Guillotine’s standings.

Ranked No. 6 at 145 pounds, Klinkner is the only Section 2 wrestler in the top 10, while Ehrich is the only Section 2 wrestler in the top 10 at 160 in this week’s rankings. Ehrich has made his way up to the fourth spot in his weight class.

Klinkner is rounding out his senior season, while Ehrich is in his junior year. Both said they feel they have taken a leadership role with the team, either making sure to encourage younger wrestlers or watching them for possible adjustments.

“I make sure to tell guys when they wrestle a good match,” Klinkner said. “Win or lose, it can still be strong.”

“If I see something I think they (younger competitors) can improve on, I try to tell them and help them get better and reach their goals,” Ehrich said.

While helping younger competitors improve, both Ehrich and Klinkner said there are things they still work on. Ehrich said he is continuing to improve while on his feet and Klinkner said there are many things he’s still working on.

“I try to improve on everything every day,” Klinkner said. “There is no perfect wrestler.”

“Probably just getting better at takedowns and being able to control kids while on my feet,” Ehrich said.

While both Ehrich and Klinkner have had success on the mat, they also helped the Bucs football team to a 9-3 record and a Class AA state quarterfinal appearance.

Ehrich said he thinks working to improve on the football field and wrestling mat also help grow his skills in the other sport.

“I think it (playing both) definitely helps with mental toughness,” Ehrich said. “Wrestling is a tough sport and it helps strengthen your mind. I think wrestling also helps your tackling technique for football.”

With another high school season ahead of him, Ehrich said he will continue to work on his strength and touching up his technique.

For Klinkner, this will be his final high school season. He said he plans to continue wrestling in college, but has not yet made his decision on where. He said he likes wrestling and wants to continue his career because of the challenges wrestling presents.

“What I like about wrestling is that not everybody can do it,” Klinkner said. “You have to work hard and it’s a very mental sport.”

Both Klinkner and Ehrich said they will continue working hard through the final weeks of the wrestling regular season and into the section team and individual tournaments to reach their goals of the state tournament.

Their efforts will culminate when the Section 2A team tournament begins Feb. 13.

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