There is no better feeling for a wrestler than having a hand raised in the final match of his high school career.
Whether it be in the final dual meet of the season, the third-place match at sections or even the fifth- and third-place matches at state, winning the last match is always a major goal in that final stretch.
But no goal is greater than having a hand raised in the championship match at the state tournament to end a long-yet-gratifying career on the mats.
Two area wrestlers - Nathan Rose of Sibley East and Alex Schroepfer of Wabasso/Red Rock Central - ended their careers with state titles and were named the 2013-14 All-Journal Wrestlers of the Year.
Rose went 45-1 on his way to winning the 195-pound title for a third-straight time, while Schroepfer bounced back from a fifth-place finish his junior year to win the heavyweight title with a 41-0 record.
ROSE CLOSES DOOR WITH 3-PEAT
Since the implementation of the 195-pound weight class into high school wrestling nation-wide in 2012, Sibley East's Nathan Rose has been Minnesota's only Class A champion in it.
Rose, who went 132-1 in his three-straight seasons of winning a state title, will be going to the University of Minnesota to wrestle for legendary coach J Robinson. There, he will be competing against some of the best wrestlers on one of the top collegiate wrestling programs in the country.
"You can't go in there with a hot head thinking you're going to beat everybody," Rose said. "I went up there this summer and got my ass kicked quite a bit. But you get the times where you can score on people and it's pretty awesome."
Rose said he felt like there was more pressure on him this time - more so than his first two times - to win the state title, but handled the pressure well for the most part.
While most kids typically quit wrestling after their senior season in high school ends, Rose's love for the sport - along with his talent - is what has carried him to the next level.
"People always have something that identifies them - wrestling is what identifies Nathan," said Sibley East coach Chad Johnson. "He could wrestle for 10 hours a day, that's just his thing. That's what he loves to do."
Throughout Rose's high school career, Johnson was faced with the unusual task of keeping him from getting bored in practice.
"Usually he'll roll around with the coaches a little bit, but there's no one at his level to push him," said fellow senior Hunter Retzlaff, who placed third at 145 pounds at this year's state tournament. "Practices for him are really easy."
Minneapolis is Rose's next focus. He will likely redshirt his first year there since the Gophers' current 197-pounder, junior Scott Schiller, is ranked No. 5 in the nation and is a returning All-American.
"Minnesota is a good place for him; they're going to have some guys that are going to be better than him, but he will work and he will catch up to them," Johnson said. "There's no doubt in my mind as I look down the future, that he'll be a varsity wrestler for the Gophers and an All-American and all those kinds of things.
"I have big expectations for him just like I think he does for himself."
SCHROEPFER TAKES CAKE AT HEAVYWEIGHT
Heading into this year's state tournament, Wabasso/Red Rock Central's Alex Schroepfer was the wrestler to watch.
Ranked No. 1 in Class A at heavyweight, Schroepfer's quickness took most people by surprise as he worked his to going 37-0 with a target on his back almost as big as his 280-pound form.
"Most people don't expect it; they look at me and think I'm slow," Schroepfer said. "But I'm pretty quick."
But Schroepfer may not have reached the pedestal of being the top heavyweight had he not pinned defending state champion Lucas Damm in the team's dual loss to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City on Jan. 11.
"[Damm] was ranked No. 1 in the state at heavyweight and Schroepfer was [No.] 2," said W/RRC co-head coach Gary Hindt. "That was a huge match. Schroepfer took him down, rode him, pinned him first period.
"That was the defining moment for him."
After that match, Damm moved back down to 220 pounds and defended his state title at that weight, while Schroepfer became the new No. 1 heavyweight in Class A.
Another thing that motivated Schroepfer, who finished fifth as a junior in 2013, was seeing what River Valley's Lance Briard did in his final two state tournament appearances.
"He got fifth his junior year and then he came back and won it," Schroepfer said of Briard. "I wanted to follow in his footsteps, which I did."
Even though they both finished their senior seasons undefeated, Schroepfer did manage to finish with four more wins than Briard (37-0) did.
In the 2014 tournament, Schroepfer pinned three of his four opponents in an average 1:13 on his way to the title match, where he won to finish a perfect 41-0.
Akin to Rose, Schroepfer has attracted the attention of programs that want him to compete at the next level for them.
Schroepfer said "quite a few" schools have reached out to him, but he has instead chosen to work on the family farm and forgo college for the time being.
"I'm going to have to pass on them all," Schroepfer said. "I've had enough."