Seven wrestlers from Faribault County high schools are making the trip to the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament, set for Thursday through Saturday, March 2-4, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Blue Earth Area had five wrestlers qualify at the Section 2A Tournament held in Blue Earth last weekend, and United South Central had two.
The Buccaneers are Caden Ochsendorf (120 pounds), Cole Klinkner (145 pounds), Zach Buseman (152 pounds), Jesus Quintero (182 pounds) and Jared Armon (195 pounds).
These five Blue Earth Area Buccaneer wrestlers are on their way to the State Wrestling Tournament. From left to right, holding up their winning brackets are: Jared Armon, BEA’s 195 pounds champion; Zach Buseman, 152 pounds second place; Caden Ochsendorf, 120 pound second place; Jesus Quintero, 182 pounds second place; and Cole Klinkner, 145 pounds champion. All five were competing at State on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, in St. Paul.
For the Rebels, Blake Legred (106 pounds) and Gavin Sonnek (126 pounds) both qualified for State.
Legred, Klinkner and Armon were all Section 2A champs, while the other four were in second place, which also earns them a trip to State.
A couple of other Buccaneers also had a chance at the State trip, but fell just short.
Here is a recap of the action from last Saturday, Feb, 25.
After battling his way to the 120-pound championship match, Buccaneer freshman Caden Ochsendorf faced off against Jorge Hernandez of Le Sueur-Henderson for the Section title.
Ochsendorf lost that match in a real fight that ended in a 9-6 decision.
But then, the Buccaneer had to wrestle one more time in a match to determine true second place and decide who would go to State.
Ochsendorf took on and defeated Reise Hanson of Maple River and thus punched his ticket to State.
"Caden has had a very steady year, and with three more (years as a Buc) to go, we will continue to look for big things from him," says coach Randy Wirtjes.
Cole?Klinkner took first place at 145 pounds with a pin in 3:04 over Nathan Bauer of Kenyon-Wanamingo. "Cole showed his experience all year, as captain, a leader and with confidence," coach Wirtjes said. "It was great to see him pin his way through the Section for his second straight Section title and trip to State."
At 152 pounds, the championship match came down to two state-ranked wrestlers Zach Buseman of Blue Earth Area and Tyler Ryan of Kenyon-Wanamingo.
Buseman lost that battle 7-1 to Ryan, and then had to turn around and take on Cole Staloch of New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in a contest to determine true second and the trip to State.
Buseman won the match by a score of 3-0.
"Zach now makes his fourth straight trip to State," Wirtjes says. "He brought his level up a notch this year and was very dominating. We are very happy to have him back for one more year. He is also one of our captains."
Jesus Quintero, at 182 pounds, had two unbelievably close contests at the end of the Section tourney in order to get a chance to go to State.
First off, he wrestled against Noah Decker of Maple River in the championship match, and just barely lost by a 1-0 decision.
Then he, too, had to take on another opponent in a battle for true second and that trip to State.
This time he faced Garrett Gillman of LCWM and won another very close 3-2 decision for second.
"Jesus showed that hard work pays off," the Buc's mentor said. "He had a very steady year. You could always count on 100 percent effort when he was on the mat. He missed two full seasons because of injury, but you would never know it."
The Bucs other wrestler with a trip to State is Jared Armon at 195 pounds.
Armon went up against Logan Quam of Kenyon Wanamingo in the title match and won it 6-0 to grab the championship and the trip to State.
"Jared also persevered through some tough times rib injury, shoulder surgery but kept on working hard and ended up a Section champ," says Wirtjes. "He is also one of our captains."
The two USC Rebels going to State gained their way by a first and a second place finish.
Blake Legred took the championship at 106 pounds with a pin of Ethan Arett of Westfield.
At 126 pounds, Gavin Sonnek first lost the championship match to Bradley Knish of Kenyon-Wanamingo by a very tight 3-2 score.
Then he had to face Cody Walters of Maple River in a true second challenge and won that match 3-1, earning the trip to State.
Three other Buccaneers also were in contention for State, but did not make it. They were in contests to determine true second place and a possible State berth.
Eighth grader Max Ehrich won third place at 113 pounds for sure, with a pin of Wyatt Brennan of Westfield.
Then he was able to take on Keon Naranjo of Le Sueur-Henderson for the true second determination. Ehrich lost that match by a fall.
Wyatt Tungland also gained third place at 170 pounds with a 7-4 decision over Matthew Houglum of Kenyon-Wanamingo.
He then wrestled against Jeremiah Colon of LCWM for true second and lost a chance to go to State.
Buccaneer heavyweight Trevor Oppedal also took third place, taking a 5-1 decision over Connor Thorn of Maple River.
But he lost in his true second contest against Jesse Jackson of Kenyon-Wanamingo, just missing out on a State bid.
There were several other Buccaneers who placed in the top six at the Section 2A Tournament.
Davis Sunken took sixth place at 106 pounds, Koby Nagel took sixth place at 126 pounds, Dalton Nagel was fourth at 132, Jaxon Klinkner took fifth at 138 and Jordan Huse was in fourth place at 220.
Several other Rebels also placed in the top six. They were Keenan Biddle fourth at 145 pounds, Levi Thisius sixth at 160, David Garza sixth at 220 and Ethan Morales sixth at 285.
The Bucs as a team had a successful season.
"We accomplished a lot as a team and as individuals this year," coach Wirtjes says. "Winning the Big South Conference East Division and the crossover BSC title were team goals this year. Getting to the State as a team was our big goal, and we were seconds away from accomplishing that. Our state qualifiers did a great job, also, and we wish the best for them at the State Tournament."