By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
ARLINGTON - The Sibley East wrestling team will be returning to the state dual meet tournament after upsetting then-No. 1 Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Area in the Section 4A dual finals two weeks ago.
Last season, the team finished fourth in the state duals before having seven wrestlers compete in the individual tournament the next two days. Since Sibley East (22-8, 4-1 Minnesota River) will again have seven wrestlers in this year's individual tournament, coach Chad Johnson doesn't expect anything new this time.
"It's the same exact situation we were in last year ... most of the guys that are going as individuals are the same guys that went last year," Johnson said. "The other individuals are going to have Thursday to be part of it and do the team thing and then enjoy Friday and Saturday. Hopefully sitting there motivates them a little bit to get their butt in gear."
Sibley East will face No. 1 Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. A-C-GC (23-1) assumed the No. 1 spot after Sibley East knocked off LC-WM Area in the Section 4A dual finals.
Sibley East beat A-C-GC, which was seeded No. 3 at the time, in the first round of last year's duals before falling to eventual-runner-up Frazee.
In that dual, top-ranked 195-pounder Nathan Rose wrestled up to beat eventual-220-pound champion Lucas Damm in a 7-6 decision. Rose said his bout with Damm made things difficult for him from there on out.
"Last year it was pretty bad for me," Rose said. "[Damm] kind of crushed me last year and that kind of screwed my shoulders up."
Rose managed to finish the rest of his matches to cap off his second-straight undefeated season and state championship.
Along with No. 1 Rose, Sibley East boasts four other ranked wrestlers - No. 4 Tanner Pasvogel (106 pounds), No. 3 Jason Meyer (132), No. 2 Austin Brockhoff (138) and No. 2 Hunter Retzlaff (145). However, Rose said his team will still need to pull off some upsets if it wants to advance in the state duals.
Pasvogel will be competing in both the duals and individual tournament for the first time. He went 1-2 in the duals last season, but did not qualify for state individually due to an academic issue that disqualified him from the section tournament.
"I just can't wait," Pasvogel said. "I had a really good chance last year to go individually, but it's going to be so much fun."
Sibley East's dual with No. 1 Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center. The winner will face either No. 5 Jackson County Central or No. 3 Minneota/Lincoln HI at 1 p.m. The consolation duals will be held at 5 p.m., while the championship dual will be at 7 p.m.
"I have a lot of big plans for all of them as far as the team part goes," Johnson said. "AC-G-C, they're a pretty familiar foe. They're No. 1, so we're going to have to have a good day. We need 14 guys to wrestle a balanced match like we did in sections if we're going to have a chance to beat them."
Dual Ch1: No. 12 Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale (18-2) vs. No. 2 Frazee (18-1), 9 a.m.
Dual Ch2: No. 7 Pierz (25-1) vs. No. 4 Chatfield (24-1), 9 a.m.
Dual Ch3: No. 6 Sibley East (22-8) vs. No. 1 Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (23-1), 9 a.m.
Dual Ch4: No. 5 Jackson County Central (22-4) vs. No. 3 Minneota/Lincoln HI (22-3), 9 a.m.
Dual Ch5: Winner Ch1 vs. Winner Ch2, 1 p.m.
Dual Ch6: Winner Ch3 vs. Winner Ch4, 1 p.m.
Dual Ch7: Loser Ch5 vs. Loser Ch6, 5 p.m. (Third-place dual)
Dual Ch8: Winner Ch5 vs. Winner Ch6, 7 p.m.
Dual Co1: Loser Ch1 vs. Loser Ch2, 11 a.m.
Dual Co2: Loser Ch3 vs. Loser Ch4, 11 a.m.
Dual Co3: Winner Co1 vs. Winner Co2, 5 p.m. (Fifth-place dual)