Aldrich is 3-time state champ

Published 9:40 pm Saturday, February 27, 2016

Albert Lea's Garrett Aldrich flexes for the crowd after winning his third consecutive Class AA championship during the state wrestling tournament Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea’s Garrett Aldrich flexes for the crowd after winning his third consecutive Class AA championship during the state wrestling tournament Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

ST. PAUL — For the third consecutive year, Albert Lea’s Garrett Aldrich is a state wrestling champion.

At 132 pounds in Class AA, Aldrich defeated Hibbing’s Morgan Fuenffinger with a 10-7 decision Saturday during the state wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

“It feels great,” Aldrich said. “It’s what I’ve been working for all year — to keep winning. … I just keep wrestling my style, and it works.”

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Earlier on Saturday, Aldrich won a 5-1 decision over Waconia’s Tyler Wagener — who he defeated last year to win his second state title — in the semifinals to punch his ticket to Saturday’s finals. Friday, during the first day of the individual wrestling tournament, Aldrich pinned Anthony Dawson of Simley in 1:20 to start off the weekend, before winning a 13-1 major decision over Glencoe’s Dylan Pundsack in the quarterfinals.

According to Albert Lea coach Larry Goodnature, Aldrich — a junior — is the second wrestler in Albert Lea history to be a three-time state champion, the first being Tom Jean in the 1970s.

“Garrett’s one of the elite now in Albert Lea wrestling,” Goodnature said. “That’s a tough thing to do, because there’s so many good wrestlers. But Garrett, he’s very intense, focused. He’s just a hard-nosed kid — very balanced with his technique.”

Fellow Tigers Zach Glazier and Matt Palmer lost their semifinals on Saturday, placing them in the consolation bracket.

At 126, Glazier placed fourth in his weight class. Earlier on Saturday, he lost in the semifinals to Scott West’s Jackson Stauffacher in a 3-2 decision. Glazier, a freshman, then went on to win a 12-3 major decision over Bailey Eickhoff, sending Glazier on to the third-place match. He lost a 1-0 decision to Hutchinson’s Brock Luthens, who he previously defeated in the quarterfinals of this year’s state tournament with a 6-5 decision. To start off the tournament on Friday, Glazier won a 4-0 decision over Mora’s Drew Van Vleet.

“(Glazier) had a good tournament,” Goodnature said. “He got fourth. He was a little disappointed because he got third last year, but he had a good tournament, too, so I’m happy for him.”

Wrestling at 285 for the Tigers, Palmer placed sixth in his weight class. He was pinned in his semifinal Saturday by Detroit Lakes’ James Huwe in 1:49, before being pinned in 11 seconds during his first consolation bout against Becker’s Casey Vesledahl. In the fifth-place match, Jameer Anderson of Benilde-St. Margaret’s defeated Palmer with a 5-0 decision. On Friday, Palmer got an unexpected bye in his first round with Scott West’s Joshua Scatz forfeiting. The junior then went on to defeat Albany’s Tyler Baird in a 2-1 decision in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“Matt Palmer placed sixth in the state,” Goodnature said. “That’s very good for him, especially being an underclassman.”

Freshman Brody Nielsen lost his 138 consolation match Saturday morning to Kasson-Mantorville’s Isaac Haman in an 8-7 decision, ending his tournament run. Nielsen previously defeated Haman in the Section 1AA tournament last weekend to earn his trip to the state competition. On Friday, Nielsen lost his first bout to No. 1-seed Anthony Jackson of Simley, but battled back through wrestlebacks. In the consolation bracket, Nielsen won a 5-1 decision over Fairmont’s Collin Steuber to send him to the bout with Haman.

“Brody Nielsen came within a whisker of placing in the state tournament,” Goodnature said. “He got beat in the last 10 seconds, otherwise he would’ve placed in the tournament, too.”

Senior Chris Nelson was the fifth Tiger to go to this year’s state tournament. Nelson lost his first match in the 170 weight class to Albany’s Mitch Kotschevar in a 4-3 decision. With Kotschevar losing his quarterfinal match, Nelson was eliminated from the tournament competition.

“Overall, we brought up five kids and placed three of them,” Goodnature said. “We’re pretty happy, and I felt we had a pretty good tournament up here.”


Albert Lea in Class AA state wrestling tournament

126—Zach Glazier, 3-2, fourth place

132—Garrett Aldrich, 4-0, first place

138—Brody Nielsen, 1-2

170—Chris Nelson, 0-1

285—Matt Palmer, 2-3, sixth place

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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