Bonsack brings home title for USC

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

By Jeff Budlong, sports editor

ST. PAUL &8212; A season spent as the top-ranked wrestler culminated with United South Central&8217;s Jake Bonsack standing head and shoulders above the competition at the 2008 Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament Saturday.

But it wasn&8217;t easy.

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The senior outlasted No. 2 Alex Kontz of Canby in the Class A finals at 140 pounds 3-2 thanks to a takedown in the final six seconds of the match.

&8220;It is insane,&8221; Bonsack said. &8220;Everything you work for all season comes true. It seems like a dream.&8221;

The dream came true a year after Bonsack went home with a third place state medal by beating Kontz by the same score.

The ending was not as satisfying for Albert Lea&8217;s second-ranked freshman Cory Hansen who lost his championship match to No. 1 Eric Devos of Apple Valley, 18-7.

Bonsack and Kontz spent almost the entire first two periods circling each other and rarely locking up. Both wrestlers scored one-point escapes and each fought off legitimate takedown opportunities by their opponent before the decisive third period.

&8220;I was saving it for the end I guess because I knew I was in better shape than him,&8221; Bonsack said.

Bonsack (40-3) was able to shoot in as the clock quickly moved to zero earning the two points before letting Kontz go and jumping into the air with a second left.

&8220;That&8217;s all you need is one takedown in the state finals,&8221; he said.

&8220;We knew it was going to come down to one takedown winner-take-all, but we weren&8217;t expecting it to end in the third period like that,&8221; USC head coach Eric Wegner said. &8220;At the end was the most motion we created all match and that is to our benefit.&8221;

It was the first meeting between the two wrestlers this season, but past victories by Bonsack gave him a little extra confidence coming into the state final.

&8220;I wrestled him twice last year and I beat him both times,&8221; he said. &8220;It definitely helped but I didn&8217;t want to look past him.&8221;

The victory met even more to Bonsack because the last state champion from USC, Kenny Sandt, came when the school was sharing a team with Alden-Conger, but he said this one is just for the Rebels.

&8220;This is the first time just USC has had a state champion because when Kenny won it was USC/AC so it is kind of big,&8221; Bonsack said.

Hansen had a hard time dealing with Devos&8217; power as he put on a takedown clinic in securing his second title by beating a Hansen brother from Albert Lea. Last year, Cody Hansen was denied a state championship by Devos in overtime.

&8220;He is always going, he is aggressive and he is pretty strong too,&8221; Cory said. &8220;It is always your goal to finish on top, but I don&8217;t know if I expected (to make the state finals). Now, I want to make it to the next level and be a state champ.&8221;

Despite the loss, the season was nothing but impressive for the freshman who finished with a 38-5 record.

Four other Tiger wrestlers finished with medals led by Cody Hansen who rebounded from a disappointing semifinal loss to finish third at 112 by destroying Brent Molitor of Saint Francis 18-2. He finished his junior season with a 43-1 record.

Logan Hansen concluded his Tiger career with a fourth place finish at 171, and Logan Kortan finished fifth at 135 with a 7-6 win over Rochester Mayo&8217;s Mike Minske. Trevor Rasmussen rounded out the Tigers&8217; medalists finishing sixth at 125.