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Four Red Bulls march to Class AA state individual semifinals

MANEUVERING — Martin County Red Bulls wrestler Connor Simmonds (top) maneuvers Tri-City United opponent Caleb Whipps toward the center of the Xcel Energy Center’s canvas during 138-pound Class AA state quarterfinal action in the MSHSL’s individual tournament on Friday in St. Paul. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ST. PAUL — Four Martin County Red Bulls advanced through Day 1 of the Minnesota State High School League’s Class AA individual state wrestling tournament unscathed.

No. 2-ranked 126-pounder Jaxson Rohman, No. 2-ranked 138-pounder Connor Simmonds, No. 2-ranked 152-pounder Payton Anderson and No. 6-ranked 160-pounder Miles Fitzgerald all stayed undefeated through the first two rounds of competition on Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Three Red Bulls — No. 7-ranked 132-pounder Blake Jagodzinske, No. 7-ranked 170-pounder Nathan Simmonds and No. 6-ranked 195-pounder Jacob Rahn — all reached today’s competition through wrestlebacks.

Rohman was the first Red Bull to punch his ticket to today’s action with two wins.

Rohman used his catch-and-release strategy to take down Detroit Lake’s Cade Jackson nine times and build an 18-8 major decision in the opening round. Rohman then dominated Mound Westonka’s Noah Lietzau with the same strategy, building a 24-9 technical fall.

Rohman said his success comes from the support of friends and family.

“My family and practice partners always believe in me and push me to be the best I can be,” Rohman said.

This is the fifth time Rohman is in the individual state tournament, but he said the atmosphere is as fun as ever.

“It’s still the same that it has been every year,” Rohman said. “Having my friends around is really cool, too.”

Rohman (52-0) moves on to face Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran’s No. 5-ranked Austin Gabbert (37-1) in today’s semifinals.

“I just have to stick with what I’m good at and trust in my abilities,” Rohman said.

Connor Simmonds was next to lock in a spot in the semifinals with back-to-back victories.

Simmonds fought to a 9-7 decision against Thief River Falls’ No. 8-ranked 138-pounder Brady Kasprick in the opening round, then used four near falls, a reversal and a takedown to build a 14-0 major decision over Tri-City United’s No. 7-ranked Caleb Whipps in the quarterfinals.

In his third appearance at the state tournament, Simmonds has reached the semifinals for the first time.

Simmonds (48-3) will go up against Detroit Lake’s No. 5-ranked Brody Ullyott (44-5) today.

Anderson made it back to the semifinals with two wins Friday, reaching the round for the first time since he placed second as a freshman.

“The last couple of days have been crazy and lots of fun,” Anderson said of his senior tournament experience. “I think the work we have put in throughout the entire year is helping towards this success.”

Anderson started his senior tournament with an 8-0 major decision over Foley’s No. 8-ranked 152-pounder Isaiah Fitch, then solidified his semifinal spot with a 6-5 decision. Anderson took down Rocori’s Austin Moscho to start the match, then Moscho fought for a reversal with eight seconds left in the first period before Anderson escaped control as the period ended.

The two didn’t swap control in the second period, then Moscho started in the down position in the third period before Anderson flipped him into a three-point near fall.

Moscho added another reversal and Anderson was called for stalling with a second left, leading to the one-point conclusion.

Anderson (42-2) will face Perham’s No. 4-ranked Jack Fudge (37-2) in the 152-pound semifinals.

Fitzgerald notched the Red Bulls’ final semifinal spot, needing to wrestle only once Friday.

Fitzgerald started the day taking an injury forfeit in the opener, then built a 7-3 decision over Cretin-Derham Hall’s Carey Vanier Jr.

Fitzgerald took Vanier down late in the opening period, then added another in both the second and third period, while escaping the down starting position in the third period to build his lead.

Fitzgerald (43-3) will face Scott West’s No. 4-ranked Jace Demmers in today’s semifinals.

Blake Jagodzinske earned a spot in the wrestleback quarterfinals with a 12-0 major decision over Bloomington Kennedy’s Mason Scott.

Jagodzinske started his tournament with a 6-4 decision over TRF’s Cody Wienen in the opening round, then Mankato West’s No. 1-ranked and two-time individual champion Charlie Pickell sent Jagodzinske to the wrestlebacks with a 16-5 major decision.

Jagodzinske (25-6) will face Alexandria Area’s Ryan Borris (32-8) in today’s wrestleback quarterfinals.

Nathan Simmonds took a forfeit in the first wrestleback round to move on to the wrestleback quarterfinals.

Simmonds started his senior tournament with a 7-5 decision over Annandale/ Maple Lake’s Adam Neuman, then Bloomington Kentucky’s No. 3-ranked 170-pounder Isaac Grams took a 5-3 decision over Simmonds in the quarterfinals. Simmonds waited for his wrestleback opponent, pacing around the mat for minutes with no sign of another competitor before the clock ran out and Simmonds was named the winner.

Simmonds (45-13) will face TCU’s Brody Run (24-12) in the wrestleback quarterfinals.

Rahn pinned his way into the wrestleback quarterfinals, downing Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield’s No. 10-ranked 195-pounder Beau Nelson in 2:03 during the first wrestleback round.

Rahn began his first individual tournament with a pin of St. Paul Como Park’s Sullivan Lucy in 5:16, then Fridley’s No. 4-ranked Josh Franklin fought to an 8-5 decision over Rahn in the quarterfinals.

Rahn (42-9) will face Foley’s Hunter Gorecki (46-9) in today’s wrestlebacks.

The Red Bulls’ No. 5-ranked 106-pounder Jesse Potts exited his first individual state tournament after two matches.

Potts lost a 24-9 technical fall to Princeton’s No. 1-ranked Tyler Wells in the opening round. Potts then battled WMML’s Jonah Hamberger in the wrestleback opening round, with Hamberger taking an 8-4 decision.

Zimmerman’s No. 7-ranked 145-pounder Joe Gardas knocked Cale Steuber out of his second individual tournament appearance after one bout.

Gardas fought to a 12-8 decision over Steuber, then Gardas lost in the quarterfinals to eliminate Steuber.

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