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Aldrich, Nielsen and Glazier move into semifinals

ST. PAUL —  It was a great start at the state tournament for the Albert Lea wrestling team in Class AA.

The Tigers went 5-1 in opening round matches and three wrestlers advanced into the semifinals. Among the three was three-time state champion Garrett Aldrich, who is now within striking distance of becoming a four-time state champion.

To have four wrestlers survive the first day was something about which Tigers coach Larry Goodnature was happy.

“It was a good day for us,” Goodnature said. “We lost (Gavin) in his wrestleback. He wrestled a great match. The same with (Jake). He wrestled a great match, but just lost in overtime.”

That being said, it could be a big Saturday for the Tigers. Zach Glazier, Brody Nielsen and Aldrich all advanced to the semifinals with two wins and Nic Cantu, after winning and then losing in his first two matches, won his wrestleback, so his run is still continuing.

“It could be a big day for us,” Goodnatured said. “Our wrestlers are taking care of business and wrestling up to the level where they were seeded. They have put together nice tournaments so far. But these semifinal matches are going to be tough. Every wrestler is tough.”

At 145 pounds, Aldrich (38-4) had little trouble with Marshall’s Toby Semler (37-3). He built a lead early and never looked back, winning by a score of 10-3. Aldrich faced Detroit Lakes junior Braydon Ortloff (29-1). Aldrich would score two points in the beginning of the second period to go up 2-0. He would expand his lead to 5-0 in the second period. After Aldrich started the third period off with a point, Ortloff would counter with two points. Aldrich would notch another point to go up 7-2, and he would coast to victory to advance into the semifinals.

After winning a state championship at 132 pounds in 2016, Aldrich is wrestling in the 145 bracket, but hasn’t felt the effects of it.

“I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult,” Aldrich said after his quarterfinals win over Ortloff. “I would say it’s more fun because I’m so small for 145 (pounds). My coaches have done a good job preparing me for my matches.”

As far as becoming a possible four-time state champion?

“I’m just taking it one match at a time, Aldrich said. “I’m going to keep doing my thing.”

Brody Nielsen (20-2) won a defensive battle in his first match with Morris Area/Hancock/Chokio-Alberta’s Jared Rohloff Jared Rohloff (30-7) at 138 pounds. His defensive style worked in his favor, as Rohloff wasn’t able to register a point in his 5-0 loss. Nielsen scored in the opening minute of the match and had a 2-0 lead after one period. In the second period, Nielsen scored an escape to go up 3-0 and he would add two points late in the match to put it out of reach. Nielsen faced Simley’s Quayin Short (32-10) in the quarterfinals. Nielsen got off to a hot start, scoring two points in the opening minute. Nielsen would win by pinfall just seconds later to punch his ticket to the semifinals.

Zach Glazier (38-4) took on Detroit Lakes’ Austin Baker (31-6) in a 152-pound first round matchup. Glazier scored two points in the first minute and a half in the first period, but Baker would respond with a point at the end of the period. Glazier appeared to have suffered an injury to his right shoulder toward the end of the period, but he would continue to wrestle. His discomfort was noticeable in the first few minutes after the injury, but he adjusted to the pain and was able to keep adding points against Baker. Glazier held a 5-1 with a minute left in the second period. In the third period, Glazier’s injury didn’t appear to affect him at all. He scored two points in the opening seconds and was able to cruise to a 7-2 win, while still being as aggressive as he was in the opening seconds of the match.

“My shoulder is banged up pretty good,” Glazier said. “We’re not sure what’s wrong with it but it definitely made it a challenge to wrestle.”

Glazier would face New Prague junior Gaige Giles (29-12) in the quarterfinals. Despite what Glazier said about his shoulder, he didn’t show too many affects of an injury. He would gain a 2-0 lead as the first period came to a close to take a 2-0 lead. Giles gained back a point as the second period began, but Glazier would counter with two points to go up 4-1. He would hold a 4-2 lead after two periods. Glazier would win the match 6-3.

One match away from competing for a championship, Glazier is focusing on what lies ahead and having fun in the process.

“It feels good to be back at the X,” Glazier said. “It’s fun to compete in the atmosphere. I’m just doing what I can to keep myself feeling good and healthy. I’m not trying to look ahead and just take it one match at a time. I know what I’m capable of, so I just have to stay calm, go out and prove it.”

In the 106-pound match, Albert Lea sophomore Nic Cantu (34-3) controlled his opponent, New Prague’s Colby Dunkel (23-11), to win by a score of 9-0. Cantu stayed on Dunkel from the opening whistle to the final buzzer. In his quarterfinal match, Cantu faced Byron senior Matthew Petersen. Petersen came into the match with a record of 37-0, including his win over Hunter Baker in the opening round. He found himself with an early 2-1 lead over Cantu in the first period. The senior would widen his lead to 5-2 early in the second period, making a comeback a tough thing for Cantu. Petersen would add two more points in the final minute of the period to take a 7-2 lead into the final two minutes. Cantu scored a point in the opening stages of the third period, but the four-point deficit was too much for him to overcome. Petersen would win the match 9-4.

Gavin Ignaszewski (34-8) had the 126-pound slot for the Tigers, and he didn’t relax for one second against Richfield’s Connor Swetala (27-5). Even with the amount of stoppages, Ignaszewski was able to keep a hold on the match to beat Swetala, 5-1. Ignaszewski faced Hutchinson’s Brock Luthens (40-4) in the quarterfinals and found himself in a 1-0 hole in the second period. Ignaszewski would even up the score at 1-1 in the third period. Neither wrestler was able to break the tie, meaning the match would go to extra time. It would take three overtimes, as Ignaszewski and Luthens would trade blows, but Luthens would come out on top, 4-3, scoring a point in the closing seconds to advance to the semifinals.

At 120 pounds came the only loss in the opening round for Albert Lea. Jake Johnsrud (31-11) faced South St. Paul’s Quinn Christoffersen (24-10). Johnsrud was just seconds away from advancing, but Christofferson scored two points at the end to tie the match and send it to overtime. Christofferson used that momentum to his advantage, as he was able to take control of the match early on in overtime to beat Johnsrud, 8-3.

Johnsrud’s state tournament run was ended when Christoffersen lost his next match.

Wrestlebacks

Cantu faced Luverne’s Hunter Baker (28-11) and dominated him from the jump. Cantu would win by a score of 11-0.

Ignaszewski took on Annandale-Maple Lake’s Quinn Youngs (34-8). Young got up 2-0 in the first period. Ignaszewski battled to gain a point before the end of the first two minutes. In the second period, he scored another point to tie the match 2-2. The next point would not be scored until the third period when Youngs broke the tie to go up 3-2. That’s how the match would end.