Albert Lea’s Glazier is a state champion

Published 9:06 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018

ST. PAUL — After a year of waiting, waiting to get back to the same stage, waiting to get redemption, waiting for his moment, Zach Glazier shined and became a state champion.

Glazier won the Class AAA 170-pound championship with a 5-1 decision win over Cole Kirpach of St. Francis.

However, before Glazier would get the opportunity to wrestle in the championship final, he would meet a familiar foe in the semifinal round — Kenny ONeil.

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Glazier and ONeil saw each other on multiple occasions this season, all of which saw Glazier win by a small margin. This time would be no different. Glazier went on to beat ONeil for the third time this season, 3-1, cementing himself a spot in the finals.

Glazier and ONeil ended the first period of their semifinal match tied at zero. After an escape by ONeil in the second, Glazier found himself trailing for the first time in the tournament. Glazier scored a takedown before the end of the period, followed by an escape early in the third. He fought off the last-ditch takedown attempts from ONeil, beating the state champion from one year ago.

Next up was Kirpach and an opportunity to overcome last year’s championship defeat.

This year, Glazier wasn’t about to let this match get away from him.

“I wanted to avoid that feeling I had here last year” he said. “Getting second here last year and feeling bad about myself, I just didn’t want to have that feeling again.”

Glazier earned a takedown late in the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the second. He would start the second period on bottom, where he earned a quick escape and another takedown before the period was over. Just two minutes away from the championship, he would give up just one escape point in the period to claim his first state title.

“It hasn’t really set in yet,” he said. “I went into it with the mindset that it was just another match, but now getting back here, it’s coming to me a little bit and it feels good.”

Not only is Glazier a state champion, he was also named to the All-State Academic team and the Class AAA All-Tournament team — accomplishments he credits to the people he has around him.

“My mom and my dad, they do everything for me,” Glazier said. “My dad does a lot for me on and off the mat. My coaches and all my teammates. It was a team effort and it feels good.”

Glazier ends his junior year with a record of 45-1 and as the 170-pound state champion.

Two other Tigers also wrestled in the semifinals round, but were unable to come away with victories.

Senior Jake Johnsrud wrestled an undefeated Patrick McKee of St. Michael-Albertville and was pinned in the third period. He advanced to the consolation semifinals, where he met Alex Kern (25-6) of St. Cloud Tech.

Johnsrud and Kern battled into overtime after the score was tied at three at the end of the third period. Johnsrud took the victory by gaining a takedown in the final seconds of the first overtime period.

He would wrestle Trayton Anderson (38-5) from Farmington in the third-place match, but was unable to get the victory, losing by major decision, 10-0. Johnsrud’s senior season comes to an end with a 41-11 record and a fourth-place finish at 126 pounds.

“(Jake’s) senior leadership has been great all season,” said Albert Lea head coach Paul Durbahn. “It was great to see him place top-four at the tournament.”

Senior Brody Nielsen was also sent to the consolation semifinals after a 16-0 technical fall loss to an undefeated Tyler Eischens of Anoka. He squared up against Simon Bryce (40-5) of Little Falls in his first consolation match.

Nielsen dominated Bryce, not allowing him to score any points and winning 6-0. His third-place match against Willie Bastyr was a wild back-and-forth matchup, in which Nielsen came out on top, 8-7. Nielsen finishes his senior season with a 45-7 record and a third-place finish at 152.

“That kid is great in the wrestling room,” Durbahn said. “He’s a great student and has been a great leader for us.”

Senior Gavin Ignaszewski started the day in the consolation rounds, winning his first match by pinfall at the 2:51 mark over Ty Cage of Eagan. His consolation semifinal against Troy Kruse of Stillwater Area didn’t end with the same result.

Ignaszewski couldn’t find a way to get Kruse on his back in the final minute of the third period, as he fell to a 4-2 decision. His fifth-place match against Bret Williams of Rogers was a one-point decision in Ignaszewski’s favor. The only point scored in the match was an escape by Ignaszewski in the second period. His senior season comes to an end with a record of 40-10 and a fifth-place finish at 132.

“Gavin has really come along at the end of the year,” Durbahn said. “I’m really proud of that kid, getting up on the podium after his third time down here.”

Eighth-grader Cam Davis missed out on the second day, but coach Durbahn was proud of him nonetheless.

“Cam’s got a very bright future,” he said. “He came down here and battled with a lot of older kids and I’m proud of the way he wrestled.”

Out of the five wrestlers Albert Lea sent to the state tournament, there is one champion, a third-, a fourth- and a fifth-place finisher, and one state qualifier.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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