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No. 7 Red Bulls defend Maher Invite wrestling crown

GOLD-MEDAL WIN — Martin County Red Bull wrestler Berent Kosbab (top) earns near-fall points against Redwood Valley opponent Austin Ourada during the 132-pound championship match at the Maher Invitational wrestling tournament on Saturday in Blue Earth. Kosbab went on to post a 14-5 major decision to help the Red Bulls win the invite’s championship. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — Saturday’s sports trivia question at Blue Earth Area High School was, “What do the Martin County Red Bulls, an early December blizzard and Covid-19 have in common?”

All three have been dominant forces at the annual Dick Maher Invitational wrestling tournament since 2017.

A snowstorm, combined with blustery winds, created whiteout conditions to force the cancellation of the 2018 season-opening mat event, while the coronavirus pandemic caused the Minnesota State High School League to limit the number of teams present per location in 2020.

The Class AA No. 7-ranked Red Bulls crowned seven individual champions on Saturday to produce their fourth Maher Invite team championship during the past six seasons — complementing titles in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

“Winning tournaments never grows old,” said Red Bulls mentor Adam Williamson, whose lineup generated a first-place total of 227.5 points to stampede by 2022 Maher Invite runner-up Pine Island (142), third-place Mankato East (141.5) and host Blue Earth Area’s fourth-place finish (137.5). “We had two guys out (Cooper Steuber and Wyatt Williamson) with injuries, but everybody really stepped it up today.”

Martin County’s Torrey Paplow, Berent Kosbab and Taylor Austin each elevated their skills on the canvas to join teammates Rylan Cutler, Aden Welcome, Carver Rohman and Max Olson atop the medals podium. Cutler, Welcome, Rohman and Olson also captured gold medals to help power the Red Bulls to the Maher Invite’s top team hardware in 2021.

Ty Kolbe and Gage Cyphers each contributed runner-up showings to the Red Bulls’ point production, with Pierce Rohman, Maddex Faber and Colby Schwichtenberg chipping in bronze-medal performances.

“I can’t remember having two teammates wrestle in the finals at this tournament before, but it happened today,” Martin County assistant coach Dusty Faber said in reference to Carver Rohman’s 17-0 technical fall over Ty Kolbe in the 160-pound gold-medal match.

With no grappler from BEA or Madelia/Truman in the bracket, the two new Red Bull teammates squared off in the finals.

The Class AA No. 5-ranked Rohman coasted to an 18-3 first-round technical fall over Pine Island’s Ben Grabau before pinning Lake Mills’ Garrett Ham in 3:09 in the semifinals.

Kolbe, who’s an all-state Alaska high school wrestler whose family moved to the area, doubled up Mankato East’s Elliott Betz in their first-round match, 6-3, before pinning Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton’s Lucas Morsching in the semifinals in 3:18.

Ironically, Kosbab, who captured his first Maher gold medal on Saturday, gave credit to a teammate for his first-place finish at 132 pounds in Blue Earth.

“I used to get tired after the first and second rounds last season, but since I’ve started going against (Rylan) Cutler in practice, my stamina has gotten a lot better,” said Kosbab.

Kosbab needed only 2:47 to dispose of Pine Island’s Zach Schaeffer in the quarterfinals before earning a fall over BEA’s Blair Lunz in the semifinals in 1:41. The Red Bull sophomore then coasted to a 14-5 major decision over Redwood Valley’s Austin Ourada in the 132-pound finals.

Cutler, who holds the No. 6 spot at 120 pounds in the Class AA poll, also benefitted from grappling Kosbab by breezing to the 126-pound Maher crown.

Cutler rolled to a 25-10 technical fall over Lake Mills’ Royce Peterson, pinned Pine Island’s Nick Thein in 4:00 flat and netted a 5-2 decision over Lake Mills’ Hayden Helgeson in the finale.

Like Cutler and Carver Rohman, Max Olson and Welcome doubled up their gold medals from the Blue Earth Area-based event in back-to-back style.

Olson, who’s ranked No. 2 at heavyweight but easily makes the 220-pound weight limit, did not wrestle the length of an entire period — 2 minutes — in pinning his way to the 220-pound championship.

The Red Bull senior opened with an 18-second fall over Redwood Valley’s Hunter Rebstock, needed just 13 seconds to earn the slap of the canvas over Lake Mills’ Wyatt Hanna and bested the tournament’s Dick Boran Award winner Keegan Kuball of WEM/JWP via a fall in 1:17.

Meanwhile, Welcome added to his prep wrestling resume another gold medal by pinning Redwood Valley’s Max Fuhr in 3:11, netted a fall in 1:18 over M/T’s Jake Lehman in the semifinals and posted a 14-4 major decision over Mankato East’s Luke Scholtes in the 145-pound finals.

Paplow and Austin rounded out the Red Bulls’ individual champions by generating three consecutive wins each.

Paplow needed only 36 seconds to press Pine Island opponent Sam Thein’s shoulders to the mat, notched a fall in 4:29 over WEM/JWP’s Brady Murphy in the second round and locked up a first-place showing via a 16-3 major decision over Mankato East’s Jackson Buboltz in the 113-pound finals.

Austin captured the 152-pound championship by downing Pine Island’s Alden Smith by a 10-4 decision, edged Mankato East’s Ben Glogowski in the semifinals 6-5 and bested WEM/JWP’s Gavin Krause in the gold-medal match by a 16-7 major decision.

Cyphers opened the 170-pound bracket with a bye, generated a 5-0 semifinal win over Lake Mills’ Beau Kaufman and lost a 6-2 decision to Mankato East’s Cael Willaert in the finals.

Parker Meyers captured the lone gold medal for the host Bucs. The 182-pound senior standout opened the invite with a fall in 2:40 over Pine Island’s Will Radtke before needing a mere 55 seconds to dispose of Redwood Valley’s Evan Reinke in the semifinals.

Meyers then made it a perfect 3-for-3 on the day by earning a fall in 3:15 over Mankato East’s Max Morgan in the 182-pound championship clash.

Cory Kitchel produced a silver-medal performance for BEA during 195-pound action. Kitchel opened with a fall in 1:31 over Redwood Valley’s Andres Vetsouvahn, breezed to a 33-second pin over Pine Island’s Ben Pike in the semifinals before getting pinned in 5:06 in the finals by Class AA No. 7-ranked 195-pounder Brian Thilges of Mankato East.

Lake Mills’ Lucas Oldenkamp (106), the Maher Invite’s most outstanding wrestler Carson Petry (120) of WEM/JWP, Lake Mills’ Steve Brandenberg (138) and Redwood Valley’s Griffin Evans (285) rounded out the 2022 Maher Invite individual champions.

The Martin County Red Bulls play host to Blue Earth Area at 6 p.m. Thursday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont.

2022 Dick Maher

Wrestling Invitational

Team Standings: 1. Martin County Red Bulls 227.5; 2. Pine Island 142; 3. Mankato East 141.5; 4. Blue Earth Area 137; 5. Redwood Valley 125.5; 6. Lake Mills 108.5; 7. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/ Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 87.5; 8. Madelia/Truman 23.5.

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