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BEA’s Ehrich, Peterson to vie for Class A state individual medals

HEADLOCK — Blue Earth Area wrestler Koby Nagel (top) uses a headlock to score points against Eden Valley-Watkins opponent Gavin Mathies during a 145-pound Class A preliminary match during Friday’s individual state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ST. PAUL — Seven Blue Earth Area Bucs entered the Class A state individual wrestling tournament Friday, now only two remain.

No. 3-ranked 160-pounder Max Ehrich is the lone Buc remaining with a chance at a state title, winning both of his first two matches Friday.

“Just hard work all season and good practice partners have helped,” Ehrich said of his seasonal success. “It’s fun wrestling in front of a ton of people here.”

Ehrich started his first appearance at the state individual tournament by building a 7-3 lead over Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s Evan Young. In the third period, Young defaulted due to injury, sending Ehrich to the quarterfinals.

Ehrich then battled to a 16-2 decision over Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie’s Mason Schroeder with a takedown, two reversals and three three-point near falls.

“Max has wrestled his style and stuck to what works for him,” said BEA head coach Randy Wirtjes. “And I think doing the team tournament (Thursday) and getting out there helped.”

Ehrich (34-1) will face Staples Motley’s No. 1-ranked Owen Bjerga (45-1) in today’s quarterfinals, starting at 9 a.m.

“I need to beat him on my feet and to just keep wrestling,” Ehrich said of his plan for today.

Ty Peterson is the other Buc remaining in the individual tournament.

The 113-pounder started his first individual tournament with an upset 10-7 decision over Minneota’s No. 3-ranked Eric Carrasco.

Peterson took Carrasco down with 1:10 remaining to take a 6-5 lead, then Carrasco reversed control, retaking the lead at 7-6 with only 41 seconds left. Peterson reversed his own fortune, taking back control with nine seconds remaining to go ahead 8-7, then adding a two-point near fall as time expired for good measure.

Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City’s No. 6-ranked Ethan Hendrickson then battled to take a 9-4 win and send Peterson to the wrestleback bracket.

Peterson escaped the down starting position at the start of the third period to bring his deficit to 5-4, but Hendrickson added a takedown with 40 seconds left and a two-point near fall to build his advantage.

Peterson stayed alive in the wrestlebacks with a 14-5 major decision over Deer River’s Jayce Ross. Peterson strung together a takedown, three three-point near falls a reversal and a penalty point to build his lead.

Peterson (38-11) will face off with Jackson County Central’s No. 8-ranked Logan Butzon (40-11) in today’s wrestlebacks.

“He has had a tough road,” Wirtjes said of Peterson. “But he has persevered and wants to get a medal. He went out and scored a lot of points and just stays busy, which is his style.”

BEA’s No. 7-ranked 138-pounder Jaxen Klinkner started his second individual tournament appearance with a 7-3 decision over Jason Kohn of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie..

Wabasha-Kellogg’s No. 5-ranked 138-pounder Nolan Rommel then built a 5-4 decision to send Klinkner to the wrestlebacks before Sibley East’s No. 8-ranked Lincoln Carpenter built a 6-2 decision to knock Klinkner out of the tournament.

Koby Nagel started his return tournament appearance in similar fashion, winning a 17-0 technical fall over Eden Valley-Watkins’ Gavin Mathies. Nagel used two two-point near falls and three three-point near falls, as well as a takedown and a reversal to build his shutout.

JCC’s No. 4-ranked Payton Handevidt then built an 8-2 decision over Nagel in the quarterfinals, before Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Southland’s Rece Voigt created a 16-2 major decision to eliminate Nagel from the tournament.

The Bucs’ No. 7-ranked 120-pounder Davis Sunken saw two bouts in his return to the individual tournament.

Sibley East’s No. 3-ranked 120-pounder Drayden Morton built a 3-0 lead over Sunken going into the third period, then added a takedown, while Sunken took a stalling point and an escape to create a 5-2 Morton win, sending Sunken to the wrestlebacks.

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville’s No. 4-ranked Justin Crandall then knocked Sunken out of the tournament.

The pair battled to no score after two periods, then Sunken started in the down position before forcing a reversal with 50 seconds left to go ahead 2-0. Crandall reversed his fortune with eight seconds remaining to tie the match and send it to sudden-victory overtime. Crandall took Sunken down with 44 seconds left to take the win.

Caleb Beeler (132) and Luke Mertens (195) each got to wrestle one match in their first individual tournament experience.

Beeler faced Kimball Area’s No. 7-ranked 132-pounder Alex Nelson in the opening round.

Nelson used three takedowns and a stalling point to build a 7-1 decision. Nelson then lost in the quarterfinals to knock Beeler out of the bracket.

Mertens matched up with Norwood Young America’s Sean Weckman in the opening round.

Mertens forced a reversal from the down starting position in the second period before Weckman escaped to bring the score to 2-1, Mertens, after two periods.

Weckman then forced a reversal from the down starting position in the third period to go ahead 3-2 before Mertens escaped in the final minute to tie the matchup at three and force sudden-victory overtime.

Weckman took Mertens to the mat with 49 seconds remaining in the one-minute period to take a 5-3 decision. Weckman then lost in the quarterfinals, knocking Mertens out of competition.

“I’m really proud of our guys and the way they battled,” Wirtjes said. “They had great seasons and always put the team first. They really felt bad when it ended, but they will keep their heads up and should feel good about what they have accomplished.”

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