VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Fresh off of his first Minnesota state wrestling title, Sibley East sophomore Nathan Rose proceeded to do something that has become old hat for him - win a national championship.
Wrestling as one of 54 participants competing for Team Minnesota at the National High School Coaches Association High School National Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach over the final weekend of March, Rose was one of two Minnesotans to take home a national title.
In total, 13 Minnesotans earned All-American honors at the event, helping the state place sixth overall with teams from all 50 states competing at the event.
The entire group comprising Team Minnesota is shown at the National High School Coaches Association High School National Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.
The only states to earn higher totals than Minnesota's score of 123.5 were California (240.5), New York (191), New Jersey (159.5), Michigan (141.5) and Kansas (138.5).
Rose - who won the Minnesota Class A state title at 195 pounds - placed first in the 195-pound bracket of the sophomore division with a perfect 4-0 record. Last year Rose won a national title at 189 pounds in the freshman division.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City's Larry Bomstad was Minnesota's other national champion this time around, winning the 145-pound bracket in the sophomore division.
Rose was joined by four other Sibley East wrestlers at the event: seventh senior Tyler Pasvogel, freshman Jason Meyer, junior Aaron Bates and seventh grader Tanner Pasvogel.
Tanner Pasvogel, Meyer and Bates were winless in their respective brackets. However, with state champions from all around the nation competing, there is no such thing as an easy match at the tournament.
"You don't go there if you're just a .500 wrestler, you'd better know what you're doing when you go out there," Sibley East head coach Chad Johnson said.
Tyler Pasvogel finished one match shy of earning All-American honors (received by all wrestlers placing in the top eight of their brackets) after defeating state champions from New Hampshire, South Carolina and Virginia en route to a 4-2 record.
"The first match he beat a two-time state champ, the second match he beat a two-time state champ, the third match he beat a one-time state champ and in the fourth match he beat a one-timer," Johnson said. "He beat six state titles in his wins, so you're getting pretty good kids all the way through."
Johnson was the head coach for Team Minnesota at the tournament. It was the eighth year he has held the role of recruiting the wresters for Team Minnesota and supervising them at the tournament. In all, the group that traveled down with Team Minnesota numbered around 80 people, with the size of the group having averaged between 60 to 90 people during Johnson's tenure in charge.
Although Team Minnesota draws on wrestlers from all over the state, Johnson has usually brought teams to the tournament featuring a high proportion of wrestlers from the immediate area. Other notable wrestlers from nearby competing this year were Nicollet junior Jaydon Grommersch and LeSeuer-Henderson senior Brett Pfarr, who placed fourth at 170.
"We have a lot of local kids," Johnson said. "I kind of know them a lot better, so I'm able to get those guys into the tournament and talk them into going, so I have more success with the local guys than I do with the out-state guys."
With most of the nation's top high school wrestling talent attending the event, Johnson mentioned that one of the most important aspects of the tournament is exposing high school wrestlers to college coaches.
An example of the benefits of attending the event was experienced by Owatonna senior Coyte Kuefner, who placed fourth at 220. Kuefner entered the tournament with no existing scholarship offers to take his wrestling career to the college level, but after his performance he left with contact details for about eight different college coaches.
"I think the most important thing about this tournament is exposure to colleges," Johnson said. "We had quite a few seniors that went out there that didn't know where they were going, and now they have a lot of opportunities. Every coach in the country is at this tournament, and we've had kids sign major scholarships as soon as this tournament's done because they've got exposure to the coaches along the east coach and all over the country that aren't just Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin people, so it makes a big difference."
Tyler Pasvogel also drew interest from a number of coaches, though he had already declared his intent to attend St. Cloud State in the fall.
"Tyler Pasvogel, he'd already planned on going to St. Cloud State, but when we were out there, there were a lot of schools that wanted him," Johnson said. "A lot of people came talking to him and he said, 'I've already committed to St. Cloud State,' but the doors were open for him if he would have been in that situation."
Minnesota's other All-Americans were Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's Dillon Card (third at 182 in the freshman division), Mora's Brady Beier (fifth at 220 in the freshman division), Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson's Jordan Theede (fifth at 145 in the sophomore division), ACGC's Maverick Whitcomb (third at 170 in the sophomore division), Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Jordan Rothers (third at 160 in the junior division), St. Cloud Tech's Jarred Nieland (seventh at 285 in the junior division), Apple Valley's Ben Sullivan (sixth at 152 in the senior division), Foley's Taylor Lewandowski (second at 160 in the senior division) and Caledonia/Houston/Spring Grove's Austin Goergen (second at 285 in the senior division).