By Michael Gassett
Journal Sports Writer
ST. PAUL For the past two years, River Valley's Caleb Hillesheim has watched the state wrestling tournament from the stands.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Aaron Bates of Sibley East defeated Jordan Ketter of Frazee in their 112-pound match of the opening round of the Class A State Wrestling Tournament Wednesday in St. Paul.
This year, he qualified for his first-ever state tournament as a 189-pounder and he made the most of his opportunity.
He opened the Class A state tournament with a 14-5 decision over Greg Erlandson of Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah.
"This was just so unreal," Hillesheim said. "Walking out of the tunnel and seeing the fans, was just amazing."
How They Fared
Ryan Schroepfer lost dec. Colton Laganier, Kasson-Mantorville, 4-2. NEXT: TBD.
Cody Schunk dec. Dillon Kifer, Little Falls, 6-4 OT. NEXT: Zach Friederich, Montgomery-Lonsdale/LeCenter.
Mitchell Rohlik lost dec. Tyler Mergen, Monticello, 6-2. NEXT: TBD.
Nathan Mattison lost dec. Kurtis Julson, Simley, 10-1. NEXT: TBD.
Cody Welch, dec. Dylan McDonough, St. Paul Johnson, 7-0. NEXT: Ripp Baker, Milaca/Faith Christian.
Luke Schmit lost dec. Jason Cirksena, Kason-Mantorville, 11-1. NEXT: TBD
Jake Schmdt dec. Joe Gomez, Totino Grace, 7-0. NEXT: Tyler Lewandowski, Foley.
Pat Brinkman dec.Donaldo Martinez, Melrose Area, 9-5. NEXT: Derek Carlson, Mora.
Aaron Bates dec. Jordan Ketter, Frazee, 6-3. NEXT: Mitchel Lexvold, Kenyon-Wanamingo.
Caleb Ling lost by fall Jake Wirtjes, BEA, 1:32. NEXT: TBD.
Adam Bates dec. Ryan Silbernick, Parkers Prairie, 10-4. NEXT: Justin Buss, Chatfield.
Joey Posivio lost dec. Lucian Grow, Sauk Centre, 5-0. NEXT: TBD
Aaron Rose pinned Bradley Brown, Mille Lacs, 1:07. NEXT: Jordan Phibbs, JCC.
Adam Cooling lost dec. Bronson Steuber, JCC, 9-3.NEXT: TBD.
Alex Cooling dec. Fyan Brady, Royalton/Upsall, 9-0. NEXT: Grant Hegge, Southland.
Jacob Anderson lost dec. Christian Skillings, Minneota, 2-0 2OT. NEXT:
Tony Vaske tech fall Zack Askelson, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 20-5. NEXT: Cam Schafer, Minnewaska Area.
Caleb Hillesheim dec. Greg Erlandson, Breckenridge/Campbell-Trintah, .14-5. NEXT: Joel Bauman, KMS.
Cody Hanson lost dec. Dylan Herman, USC, 12-3. NEXT: TBD.
Matt Tucholke lost by fall Drew Lexvold, Kenyon-Wanamingo, 1:07 NEXT: TBD.
Ethan Hildebrandt dec. Rij Koehnen, Frazee, 9-4. NEXT: Clint Poster, Pierz.
Matt Westman lost dec. Sean Huls, Pierz, 11-2. NEXT: TBD
Dylan Wright lost by fall to Stu Raasch, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 4:48. NEXT: TBD.
Jaydon Grommersch lost by fall to Chris Ortman, Pierz, .1:52. NEXT:TBD.
His reward for the win? He gets to wrestle defending state champion Joel Bauman of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg.
"I am just going to wrestle him hard and do the best I can against him," he said. "Even if I lose, it's a good feeling knowing that I will be wrestling into Friday at least. This was a big win."
Hillesheim was one of three wrestlers from River Valley to advance to the state tournament and all wrestled great.
At 140, Tony Vaske picked up an easy win with a technical fall over Zack Askelson of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 20-5.
Vaske will now wrestle Cam Schafer of Minnewaska Area in the quarterfinals.
The other Wildcat to advance to state was Jacob Anderson at 119. Anderson lost his opening match to Christian Skillings, the top-ranked wrestler in the state and he did everything he could to win.
It was scoreless through the first three periods and the first three overtimes. Finally in the fourth overtime, Anderson chose the up position to ride Skillings out. Skillings got a reverse with four seconds to go to get the win.
Now Anderson must wait to see if he stays alive or if his season is done. Skillings will wrestle St. Clair's Chase Levos, who is 38-0 on the season. If Skillings wins, Anderson stays alive.
"It's nice," Hillesheim said about the way the Wildcats wrestled. "Vaske has been here a couple of times and we really want to see him win a championship. Jacob wrestled a good match against Skillings. It's just too bad that he lost."
The state wrestling tournament is old hat to Ethan Hildebrandt. The senior 135-pounder was a runner-up as a sophomore and he is trying to get back to the medal round again this year.
He is on his way after he beat Rij Koehnen of Frazee 9-4 in the opening round.
"I felt good going into it and it's always good to get the first one out of the way," he said. "It gets easier every year. You know what's going on, you know what to expect. But you still gotta be ready. I just need to stay focused and take it one match at a time."
St. James sent five wrestlers to state and Hildebrandt is the only one that came away with a win.
At 103 Cody Hanson lost a decision to Dylan Herman of United South Central, 12-3. Matt Tucholke lost by fall to Drew Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo at 130.
At 160, Matt Westman lost an 11-2 decision to Sean Huls of Pierz and at 215, Dylan Wright was pinned by Stu Raasch of Zumbrota-Mazeppa in 4:48.
The Wolverines had a great Day 1 at the state wrestling tournament. They sent five to state and three came out winners.
At 112, Aaron Bates beat Jordan Ketter of Frazee, 6-3. He will wrestle Mitchel Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo next.
Adam Bates beat Ryan Silbernick of Parkers Prairie 10-4. He will take on Justin Buss of Chatfield in the quarterfinals.
The other victor for Sibley East was heavyweight Aaron Rose. He made quick work of Mille Lacs Bradley Brown, pinning him in 1:07. Rose will take on Jackson County Central's Jordan Phibbs next.
At 152, Joey Posivio lost a 5-0 decision to Lucian Grow of Sauk Center and at 119, Caleb Ling was pinned by Jake Wirtjes of Blue Earth Area in 1:32.
Nicollet's first wrestler in the state tournament in six years didn't fair so well. At 103, Jaydon Grommersch lost by fall to Chris Ortman of Pierz in 1:52.
Both Alex and Adam Cooling made it back to state this year and Alex had an impressive opening act with a 9-0 win over Ryan Brady of Royalton/Upsalla.
"Last year I didn't have such a good draw and I was out right away," Alex said. "I was looking to take advantage of this one. This is so nice. I am so grateful I was able to win my first match."
Adam lost a tough 9-3 decision to defending champion Bronson Steuber of JCC.
"He will still have a good chance of going on," Alex said. "And if he can beat that kid, he will be well into the placing round."
Alex is also excited to be able to share the experience with his brother.
"That's pretty fun," he said. "Not many people get to experience that."
The Class A quarterfinals kick off at 6 p.m. Today. The wrestlebacks start around 9 p.m.