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Red Bulls’ Anderson wins state wrestling crown; area 8 earn medals

STATE CHAMPION — Martin County Red Bulls wrestler Payton Anderson (left) uses a fireman’s carry to elevate Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield opponent Jude Link during the Class AA 152-pound championship match at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Anderson went on to win the state crown. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ST. PAUL — Payton Anderson flexed toward the crowd, tossed his headgear to Martin County Red Bulls head coach Adam Williamson, shook hands with his opponent and had his hand raised on Saturday night as the MSHSL Class AA 152-pound individual state wrestling champion.

“I was just thinking, all the hard work had all paid off,” Anderson said of the moment the match ended. “I’m a state champ and no one can ever take that away from me.”

The No. 2-ranked 152-pound Anderson faced Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield’s No. 3-ranked Jude Link in the championship bout.

The pair were tied at 1 with 1:54 left in the bout. Anderson then lunged for Link’s legs, before lifting him into the air and controlling him through a drop to the mat with 44 seconds left to take a 3-1 lead.

“I just knew that a takedown was gonna win the match,” Anderson said. “It was the last minute of my high school career, I had to make it worth it.”

And he did. Link escaped Anderson’s control late, leading to Anderson’s 3-2 championship-winning decision.

“It’s Payton’s dream come true,” Williamson said. “He’s always wanted to be a state champ. He stayed focused, prepared for each match like it was his last and battled through to the end.”

Anderson started Saturday’s semifinal round facing Perham’s No. 4-ranked Jack Fudge. The pair battled to a tie at three at the end of regulation, going into sudden-victory overtime where Anderson took Fudge to the mat with 52 seconds left to advance to the championship.

Anderson was not the lone Red Bull in the championship round. Martin County’s No. 6-ranked 160-pounder Miles Fitzgerald won his first three matches to advance to the championship, where he faced Mahtonmedi’s No. 2-ranked Bryce FitzPatrick.

FitzPatrick flipped Fitzgerald to his back in the second period for a pin in 3:17, placing Fitzgerald second in the 160-pound state bracket.

“Miles persevered and battled through some very tough matches,” Williamson said. “Miles had to overcome his shoulder injury he sustained in the team portion. Even though second wasn’t his plan, he had a great tournament.”

After defaulting with a shoulder injury during Thursday’s team tournament semifinal, Fitzgerald received a forfeit and went undefeated Friday to reach Saturday’s individual semifinal, where he faced Scott West’s No. 4-ranked 160-pounder Jace Demmers.

Fitzgerald took a 3-2 lead into the first break before starting in the down position in the second period and forcing a reversal to immediately pin Demmers at the 2:47 mark and reach the state finals.

Two Red Bulls claimed third place on Saturday.

No. 2-ranked 126-pounder Jaxson Rohman of the Red Bulls won twice and lost once Saturday.

Rohman started Day 2’s semifinals facing Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran’s No. 5-ranked Austin Gabbert.

Rohman started strong, building a 4-1 lead in the first period, but Gabbert escaped the down starting position in the second period, then took Rohman to the mat with 55 seconds left before forcing a two-point near fall.

Rohman was unable to garner the points he needed in the third period and fell to the wrestleback semifinals via a 6-4 decision.

Rohman then eased to an 8-3 decision over Glencoe/ Lester Prairie’s Carter Ruschmeier before facing Detroit Lakes’ Cade Jackson, who Rohman beat in the opening round, in the 126-pound third-place match. Rohman built a 27-9 technical fall and placed third, gaining his fifth medal in five individual state tournament appearances.

No. 2-ranked 138-pounder Connor Simmonds also brought home a bronze medal for the Red Bulls.

Simmonds entered Saturday’s semifinals against Detroit Lakes’ No. 5-ranked 138-pounder Brody Ulyott. The two were tied at five in the third period before Ulyott forced a reversal and turned it into a two-point near fall. Simmonds escaped control late, but couldn’t come up with the remaining three points, losing by a 9-6 decision.

Simmonds met up with New London-Spicer’s No. 4-ranked Blake Vagle in the wrestleback semifinals, taking a 4-0 decision and going to the third-place match.

Connor Simmonds then used three takedowns and a three-point near fall to build a 9-2 decision over Becker’s No. 6-ranked Lukas Paulson and claim bronze.

Blue Earth Area’s Class A No. 3-ranked 160-pounder Max Ehrich was the lone area competitor to finish fourth.

Ehrich started Saturday’s semifinals in a matchup with Staples Motley’s No. 1-ranked and eventual 160-pound champion, Owen Bjerga. Bjerga took Ehrich to the mat in the first period and flipped him for a pin in 1:57.

Ehrich then faced Medford’s Josiah Hedensten in the wrestleback semifinals, taking a 5-2 decision.

Ehrich moved on to the third-place bout where he faced a rematch with Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s No. 5-ranked Sawyer Schwartz, after Ehrich beat Schwartz in the Class A team tournament’s third-place dual meet on Thursday.

The pair battled to one of the more exciting matches of the day, fighting to a tie at 6 at the end of the first period, then Ehrich leading 11-7 at the end of the second.

Schwartz forced a reversal from the down starting position in the third before creating a three-point near fall to take a 12-11 lead. Ehrich then reversed control to retake the lead with 1:09 left, before Schwartz escaped at the 34 second mark to tie at 13.

The two battled for control, going out of bounds, where Ehrich needed to take some injury time with a hurt ankle. Ehrich remained in the action, but Schwartz took him to the mat with four seconds left to create a 15-13 decision.

“Max just kept grinding away,” BEA head coach Randy Wirtjes said. “He had eight matches and they all went the distance, so it becomes mental and he overcame that.”

Two Red Bulls placed fifth during Saturday’s state individual action.

No. 7-ranked 132-pounder Blake Jagodzinske and No. 6-ranked 195-pounder Jacob Rahn both won their fifth-place matches.

Jagodzinske started the day in wrestleback action facing Alexandria Area’s Ryan Borriss and taking a 6-2 decision. He then moved on to the wrestleback semifinals where he faced Kasson-Mantorville’s No. 4-ranked Logan Vaughan.

Vaughan built an 8-1 lead in the third period before Jagodzinske scored four consecutive points leading to Vaughan taking an 8-5 decision.

Jagodzinske then took an injury forfeit in the fifth-place match.

Rahn also started the day in the wrestlebacks, facing Foley’s No. 7-ranked Hunter Gorecki in a rematch from the team semifinals Thursday.

Rahn used three takedowns and an escape to build a 7-1 lead and guarantee himself a medal.

He moved on to face Monticello’s No. 5-ranked 195-pounder Jesse Midas in the wrestleback semis, with Midas pinning Rahn in 1:30 to send him to the fifth-place matchup.

Rahn battled with Simley’s Landan DuVal in his final bout, using two takedowns and a reversal from the down starting position to create a 6-0 decision and claim fifth.

No. 7-ranked 170-pounder Nathan Simmonds was the lone Red Bull to claim a sixth-place medal.

Nathan Simmonds started in wrestleback action Saturday, battling Tri-City United’s Brody Rud in the quarterfinals. Simmonds built a 5-0 lead through the first two periods, then outlasted Rud for a 5-4 decision to go to the wrestleback semifinals where Becker’s No. 6-ranked 170-pounder Caden DeWall scored 11 consecutive points to build an 11-1 major decision and send Simmonds to the fifth-place bout.

Simmonds matched up with St. Peter’s No. 5-ranked Eli Hunt battling to a tie at 2 after two periods. Hunt escaped the down starting position in the third, creating his 3-2 decision.

“This was the most successful state tournament we’ve had yet,” Williamson said. “The kids battled hard in the team competition and then they bounced right back to wrestle individually the next two days. Seven state medals is definitely a team record. We are so very proud of our kids.”

BEA’s 113-pounder Ty Peterson saw one bout Saturday.

Peterson matched up with Jackson County Central’s No. 8-ranked 113-pounder Logan Butzon in the wrestleback quarterfinals. Peterson battled to a 2-1 lead after the first period, then an escape and late takedown put Butzon ahead 4-2 at the end of the second.

Peterson started the third period in the down position and escaped to get within a point, but Butzon created a takedown to go ahead 6-3. Peterson escaped with five seconds left to create the final 6-4 decision for Butzon.

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