ST. PAUL - When Alex Schroepfer raised his arms in celebration after his quarterfinal victory on Friday night, the whole town of Wabasso raised its arms with him.
The senior heavyweight, who finished fifth at last year's state tournament, pinned No. 2 Garrett Malstrom of Frazee in 2:15 after sliding into a reversal that put his opponent on his back.
"He's quicker than most, he's stronger than most - stronger than all of them, really," said W/RRC co-head coach Gary Hindt. "He has confidence in what he's doing and he's athletic. There's not too many at 285 that can move like that."
Hunter Retzlaff of Sibely East wrestles Noah Landrus of Aitkin in the opening round of the Class A Individual Tournament Friday at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. Retzlaff won the match 3-2.
River Valley's Tim Krueger wrestles Hal Handyside of Mahnomen/Waubun in the opening round of the Class A Individual Tournament Friday at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. Krueger won the match 6-1.
A heavy favorite to win the heavyweight title, Schroepfer will face No. 3 Martin Grandados of Blue Earth Area in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
Schroepfer joins No. 2 Spencer Jenniges as Wabasso/Red Rock Central's two semifinalists. Jenniges placed second last year at 113 pounds after losing to Border West's Cameron Sykora, but Hindt doesn't see a similar outcome should the two meet again in the finals.
"He's stronger this year and more confident," Hindt said of Jenniges. "I think last year, he was more or less 'I'm in the finals now and everyone tells me I'm going to lose so I'm going to lose,' that sort of thing."
HOW THEY FARED
Ryan Wacker, fr., 113: Wacker was pinned by Scott West's Ben Kelvington in 3:37 in the first round. Kelvington's loss bumped Wacker from receiving a slot in the consolation bracket.
Logan Zaske, sr., Hwt: Zaske upset No. 2 Seamus Hunter in the first round at heavyweight, pinning him in 2:42 to advance. In the quarterfinals, Zaske was pinned by top-ranked Sam Stoll of Kasson-Mantorville in 0:40. He then lost to Mankato East's Logan Swanson 9-0 in the first round of consolation bracket on Friday night.
LAKE CRYSTAL-WELLCOME MEMORIAL AREA
Brandon LaBorde, jr., 120: LaBorde lost to seventh-ranked Brandon Sullivan of Pierz in a 9-1 major decision in the first round. He was then bumped from the tournament after Sullivan lost to No. 2 Spencer Jenniges of Wabasso/Red Rock Central.
Louis Sanders, jr., 126: The defending state champion is alive and well in the championship bracket, having beaten Matthew Lexvold (Goodhue) 11-1 before beating No. 2 Blane Tschida (Kimball Area) 12-6. He will face Pierz's Chris Ortman on Saturday morning.
Levi Marsh, jr., 132: Marsh beat No. 8 Kyle Votava (Barnesville) 3-2 in a second tiebreaker round to advance. He was then beaten by No. 2 Jared Willaby 7-2 to fall to the consolation bracket. He then beat/lost to Kyle Michalek of Blackduck/Cass Lake Area.
Damon Schmalzreidt, so., 145: Schmalzreidt lost to Chatfield's A.J. Riley 6-0 and had an early exit after Riley's loss in the quarterfinals.
Dalton Elliott, jr., 160: Back points ultimately hurt Elliott in the third period, losing to Jacob Mages (Paynesville Area) 13-6 in the first round. Elliott was then bumped from a consolation slot after Mages lost to top-ranked Zachary Carlson (Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg).
Sid Scott, sr., 170: Scott dropped an 8-2 decision to Adrian Area's Jesse Slater in the first round. He was then eliminated after Slater lost to top-ranked Keegan Moore (JCC) in the second round.
Ari Harnitz, jr., 182: Harnitz was pinned by United South Central's Colten Carlson in 3:38 in the first round. He surfaced in the consolation bracket after Carlson's win, where he lost to Frazee's Kody VanDenEykel in 3-1.
Shane Nelson, jr., 220: Nelson defeated Nick Fisher (Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis) in an 8-6 sudden-victory decision in one of the last matches of the Class A first round. Nelson lost 9-1 to Kimball's Austin Schielbein to fall to the consolations, where he lost to Alan Bast of Aitkin in a 3-0 decision.
Nick Meixell, jr., Hwt: No. 6 Meixell defeated Dalton Baker (Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale) in a 4-1 decision before losing to Blue Earth Area's Martin Grandados in 7-1. In the consolation round, Meixell rode out Pierz's Curtis Brisk for a 2-1 victory.
Tanner Pasvogel, fr., 106: The fourth-ranked Pasvogel defeated Jake Nohre (West Central Area) in a 7-0 decision before beating Ethan Cota (Kenyon-Wanamingo) 7-5 in the quarterfinals. Pasvogel will face No. 2 Skylar Hieronimus (Adrian Area) in the semifinals on Saturday.
Jason Meyer, jr., 132: The third-ranked Meyer beat Adrian Area's Michael Preuss 7-3 before beating Mahnomen/Waubun's Kole Lefebvre 8-0. He will face Mason Moreno (Hayfield) in the 132-pound semifinals on Saturday.
Austin Brockhoff, jr., 138: Brockhoff beat Kenyon-Wanamingo's Jace Clawiter in an 8-5 decision that was decided via tiebreaker round. The second-ranked Brockhoff fell to No. 6 Bryce Bruner (Minneota/Lincoln HI) in a 10-2 major decision in an upset. Brockhoff fought back, but was unable to beat Frazee's Austin Skillings in a 6-4 sudden-victory decision.
Hunter Retzlaff, sr., 145: No. 2 Retzlaff beat Aitkin's Noah Landrus 3-2 before beating United South Central's Dylan Herman a 10-5 decision. Retzlaff will face defending state champion Larry Bomstad of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in the semifinals on Saturday.
Mitch Wentzlaff, sr., 152: Wentzlaff was the only Wolverine who lost in the first round, getting pinned by No. 2 Paden Moore (JCC). Wentzlaff then lost to Aitkin's Jerod Novak in a 17-3 major decision in the consolation round to end his wrestling career.
Jake Wentzlaff, so., 160: Wentzlaff advanced in the first round, winning by injury default against No. 5 Blake Bergeron of Crookston. After losing to Andrew Dayland of St. Charles in the quarterfinals, Wentzlaff's season ended with an 8-4 loss to Cole Hennen of Minneota/Lincoln HI in the consolation first round.
Nathan Rose, sr., 195: Rose's path to defending his state title remains unscathed after pinning Cody Berghuis (A-C-GC) in 0:38 and beating No. 3 Lucas Etchason (Triton) 10-4. Rose will face No. 2 Tyler Patron (New York Mills) in the semifinals on Saturday.
WABASSO/RED ROCK CENTRAL
Spencer Jenniges, sr., 120: The second-ranked Jenniges beat No. 5 Conrad Kondos (Breckenridge) in an 8-1 decision before beating No. 7 Brandon Sullivan (Pierz) 6-0. Jenniges will now face Miguel Ambriz of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in the semifinals on Saturday.
Jordan Schroepfer, jr., 170: Schroepfer could not get his offense going in his 6-1 loss to No. 6 Ryan Stottler (Minnewaska Area) in the first round. Schroepfer fell to Trinity School's Sam Swanson 3-0 in the consolation first round to take an early exit.
Jared Welch, fr., 220: Welch fought hard against No. 6 Tyler Olson of Maple River before getting pinned in 5:48 in the first round. Olson lost in the quarterfinals, eliminating Welch as a result.
Alex Schroepfer, sr., Hwt: The top-ranked heavyweight hardly broke a sweat in Friday's competition, pinning eighth-ranked Mike Schively (Wabasha-Kellogg) in 0:32 seconds before pinning No. 2 Garrett Malstrom (Frazee) in 2:15. Schroepfer will face No. 3 Martin Grandados (Blue Earth Area) in the semifinals on Saturday.
Sam Baier, so., 138: The sophomore fought hard but could not overcome No. 4 Tony Lynn in a 5-4 first-round loss. Lynn later took an injury default, which effectively eliminated Baier from the tournament.
Tim Krueger, sr., 182: The sixth-ranked senior beat Mahnomen/Waubun's Kal Handyside in a 6-1 decision before pinning Drew Peterson (Staples-Motley) in 3:28. Krueger will face top-ranked Niko Anderson (Fillmore Central/Lanesboro) in the semifinals on Saturday.
Jake Denn, jr., 195: The sixth-ranked junior beat No. 7 Marty Holm (Fillmore Central/Lanesboro) in an 11-4 decision in the first round. He fell in the quarterfinals, however, to Windom/Mountain Lake's Vincent Johnson (No. 4) in a 7-3 decision. Denn stayed alive, however, by defeating Tristan Palmer (United North Central) in a 14-4 major decision.
ST. JAMES AREA
Mario Garcia, jr., 106: Garcia was beaten by No. 5 Caleb Kreitter in a 15-0 technical fall in the first round. Garcia survived in an overtime victory against JCC's Dalton Wagner in the consolation round and will wrestle on Saturday morning.
Schroepfer and Jenniges are two of six area wrestlers who are ranked in the top-3 in the state that are in the semifinals.
Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Area's Louis Sanders (126 pounds) and Sibley East's Nathan Rose (195), who are both ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes, reached the state semifinals without any snags.
Sanders, who was the 120-pound champion last year, beat second-ranked Blane Tschida (Kimball Area) in a 12-6 decision in the 126-pound quarterfinals.
"He looked tough today in that quarterfinal round," said LC-WM Area coach Andre Harnitz of Sanders. "He knows Blane and wrestled a great match with really fast shots and went against Blane's style."
Rose, who is the two-time defending 195-pound champion, pinned his first opponent within the first minute of the match before defeating No. 3 Lucas Etcheson (Triton) in a 10-4 decision.
Other wrestlers ranked No. 3 or better in the area that advanced are Sibley East's No. 3 Jason Meyer (132 pounds) and No. 2 Hunter Retzlaff (145). The Wolverines' 138-pounder Austin Brockhoff, who was ranked No. 2, ended his season with a major-decision quarterfinal loss and an overtime loss in the consolation first round on Friday night.
KRUEGER ADVANCES, BAIER HITS TOUGH LUCK
In his one-and-only state tournament appearance, Tim Krueger of River Valley moved onto the semifinals at 182 pounds.
Following a 6-1 victory against Kal Handyside of Mahnomen/Waubon, Krueger let loose in pinning Staples-Motley's Drew Peterson in 3:28.
"In his first match you could tell he was a little bit nervous, but he was much more relaxed in the second one," said River Valley coach Todd Bertram. "He stayed offensive and that was the big key. You need to be able to score points and not be satisfied to win by one or two and he did a much better job being aggressive.
"That puts him in the medal round, so I think that will take a lot of pressure off. He can just relax now and wrestle."
Krueger will face No. 1 Niko Anderson (Fillmore Central/Lanesboro) in the semifinals on Saturday morning. Even though the task of facing the No. 1 wrestler may seem daunting, Bertram shrugged off the notion of it seeming insurmountable.
"Once you get to the final six guys, anyone can beat anyone," Bertram said. "He's not going to be the favorite in those matches, but if he wrestles his best match, he can beat anyone in that bracket."
River Valley sophomore Sam Baier got the short end of his first trip to state. After losing a close 5-4 decision in the first round to Adrian Area's Tony Lynn, he was eliminated since Lynn injury-defaulted in the quarterfinals.
"It's frustrating, but at the same time we know how important it is to win that first match," Bertram said. "You'll see a lot of times that first time up here, kids will feel a little overwhelmed with the magnitude of the state wrestling tournament. I don't know if that's what happened to Sam, but we're fortunate that he's got two more years to come back up here."
There's no panic regarding Wabasso/Red Rock Central freshman Jared Welch, who qualified at 220 pounds despite competing most of the season at 195. Welch was pinned in 5:48 in his first match and was denied a spot in the consolation round, but the Bobcats' coaches are not losing any sleep over it.
"At ninth grade, you want them to get up here, get their feet wet," Hindt said. "If they win a match, that'd be wonderful. If they don't let's see if they can have fun and wrestle hard, and he did that - he gave it everything he had."
The consolations matches will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the semifinals to follow at approximately 10:45 a.m. The placement matches will be at 4:30 p.m., while the championship matches are slated to start at 7 p.m.