Grading the Tigers’ state drawsPublished 8:54am Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Column: Second Thoughts
The Class AAA state individual tournament opens on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center, and eight Albert Lea wrestlers will be competing for one of six spots on the podium in their respective weight classes.
The tournament is not seeded, but wrestlers of the same section are placed on opposite sides of the 16-wrestlers brackets, and a section champion always faces a runner-up in the first round.
Placing at state requires a lot of skill but a little luck, too. Here’s a look at Albert Lea’s four most favorable draws, along with a letter grade:
106 – No. 1 Trevor Westerlund (34-3), A
Westerlund received one of Albert Lea’s best draws with only two top 10-ranked wrestlers on his side of the bracket.
No. 2 Maolu Woiwor of Apple Valley, No. 5 Blane Tschida of Coon Rapids, No. 7 Trent Piepenburg of Alexandria, No. 9 Brandon Moen of Owatonna, and No. 10 Taylor Venz of Farmington, are all on the opposite side of the bracket and wouldn’t face the top-ranked Westerlund until the finals.
Westerlund may have to face No. 4 Sam Bennyhoff of Mound-Westonka, or No. 8 Reid Leyden of East Ridge, in the semifinals. Both wrestlers face each other in the first round.
Westerlund opens the tournament against ninth-grader Ty Johnson (29-10) of Woodbury on Mat 3. The winner of that match will face the winner of St. Michal-Albertville’s Aaron Dick (34-8) and Centennial’s Mike Mischke (29-8).
170 – No. 2 Trey Hable (23-3), A
When Hable lost a 7-4 decision to top-ranked and defending state champion Kyle Begin of Anoka during the first week of the season, it looked like a preview of a possible state finals matchup. It still is, and Hable got the better draw of the two top-ranked wrestlers.
Hable will open the tournament against No. 7 Michael Urban (31-7) of Forest Lake with the winner facing either Brainerd/Pillager’s Levi Rubin (26-8) or Buffalo’s Jonathan Wirkkala (16-22).
The only other ranked wrestler on Hable’s side of the bracket is No. 5 Tommy Longendyke (35-5) of White Bear Lake. Hable and Longendyke have not faced each other this season, although Albert Lea beat White Bear Lake 38-29 on Jan. 21.
Hable’s quest to the state finals looks much easier than Begin’s, who opens against No. 7 A.J. Wheeler (32-9) of Moorhead but is in the same quarterfinal as Owatonna’s fourth-ranked Jordan Zeman (26-5) and Mound-Westonka’s sixth-ranked Bryan Tierney (35-4).
Begin also shared the lower half of the bracket with third-ranked Ben Sullivan (32-10) of Apple Valley.
285 – Bryce DeBoer (22-8), B+
While DeBoer has the No. 1 and 2-ranked wrestlers on his side of the bracket, there are four unranked wrestlers in his quarterfinal.
DeBoer, who finished runner-up at the section tournament, will face Tartan sophomore Jason Telin (21-10). The winner will face either Bemidji’s Alex Johnson (30-8) or Rosemount’s Stefan Sauer (29-13).
The section champion, Owatonna’s seventh-ranked Spencer Sorenson, who pinned DeBoer three times this season, received a much worse opening round draw. He will face third-ranked Jerrad Nieland (35-6) of St. Cloud Tech.
126 – Lucas Hansen (30-7), B
If Hansen can get past his first round opponent, he has a favorable draw into the state semifinals.
Hansen will open the tournament against No. 10-ranked Evan Caldon (35-6) of Elk River. The winner will face the winner of unranked Henry Wolfbauer (28-8) of Hopkins) and Philip Anderson (35-6) of Rogers.
Hansen does have the No. 2 and 3-ranked wrestlers in the state, Eden Prairie’s Sam Brancale and Apple Valley’s Shamar Williams, respectively, on his side of the bracket, but they will likely meet in the opposing semifinals.