ST. JAMES - Ryan Wacker won New Ulm's sole individual title at the last-ever South Central Conference wrestling tournament on Saturday in St. James.
Wacker, who won the 120-pound title after placing third at 106 last season, came back from a fractured foot that almost ruled him out for the tournament.
"Given the fact that it was my first day back and my first wrestling match in two weeks, it felt good to get out there and win," Wacker said. "I think I did pretty good."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Ryan Wacker pinned Aaron Hunt of St. Peter in the opening round match at 120 pounds during the South Central Conference tournament on Saturday in St. James. Wacker won his three matches to place first at 120 pounds.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Wacker defeated Fairmont/Martin County West's Chris Ettevold by a 14-3 major decision in the 120-pound title match to become New Ulm's only conference champion.
Blue Earth Area defended its team title by taking home six individual titles of the 10 finalists, giving it a team score of 198.5 points.
Next season, the South Central and Southwest conferences will combine to become the Big South Conference, which will feature 13 teams (six from South Central, seven from Southwest).
New Ulm placed fifth overall with 120.0 team points as well as three wrestlers in the finals - Wacker, Sean Howk (106 pounds) and Sam Hoppe (170) - which is two more than it had last season, when then-senior Luke Cihak won the 132-pound title.
"Overall we wrestled pretty well," said New Ulm coach John Rieser. "We did lose some matches [against] kids we had beaten earlier in the year, but that's going to happen at a tournament like this."
Howk nearly upset No. 1 seed Wyatt Gillette of St. Peter in the 106-pound championship match, scaling a 4-0 deficit in the second period to pull to 8-6 within that time. Howk notched a takedown midway through the third to pull to 9-8, but let Gillette go in order to keep shooting for more points.
A tense stalemate reset the match in the middle with 0:16 left, but Gillette was able to hang on for the 10-8 victory, negating Howk's valiant effort for an upset.
"We've got to be able to get him to finish his shots in the third period," Rieser said of Howk. "We've been talking about that all year - not just with him, but the whole team - finishing a shot when you need a takedown in the third period. We'll keep working on that."
Hoppe had a much tougher obstacle to overcome in the 170-pound title match - Blue Earth Area's David Franta, who is ranked No. 8 in Class A.
Franta jumped on Hoppe from the get-go, notching a takedown 15 seconds into the match and riding out for a 2-0 lead after one period. Franta got Hoppe on his back two takedowns into the second period for the fall at 3:30.
Hoppe had earned a bye in the first two round-robin sessions since there were only five wrestlers at that weight. He went on to beat Brock Major of St. Peter in an 8-4 decision, which set up his title fight against Franta.
Austin Brandes (138 pounds) and Cole Wilfahrt (182) also earned All-Conference status by placing third in their respective weight classes. Both won by injury default in those third-place matches.
New Ulm had wrestlers at every weight except for 132 pounds, which Rieser said is because senior Austin Iles is still ridden with illness, so it was decided in his best interest for him to not compete.
Even though Rieser said this year has been a step up from last season, it still could have been better.
"Overall, we probably didn't have our best performance today," Rieser said. "We're going to have to step it up coming into sections."
As for Wacker, winning a conference title has given him good confidence heading into Section 3AA.
"It helps me a lot knowing I won this tournament at 120," Wacker said. "I will be wrestling down [at 113] at sections, it helps me to know that I can be just as good even at a higher weight."
In the first two duals of Section 3AA playoffs, No. 3-seeded New Ulm will face No. 6-seeded Fulda/Murray County Central at 6 p.m. with the winner facing No. 2-seeded Fairmont/Martin County West at 7:15 p.m. Both duals will be held in Worthington.
ST. JAMES FINISHES 4TH BY PLACING 7 IN TOP 3
Despite not having a champion, St. James Area had seven wrestlers earn All-Conference honors by placing in the top 3 en route to a fourth-place team finish.
Angel Zamarripa (113 pounds) and Chris Johnson (182) were the two finalists for the Saints. Zamarripa was beat by Blue Earth Area's Zach Buseman in a 15-6 major decision, while Johnson was pinned by St. Peter's Kyle Bosacker in 3:32.
Johnson showed resolve in advancing to the title match, however. While trailing 4-2 to Blue Earth Area's Kolt Gorg in the third period of the third-session match, Johnson notched a reversal and pinned Gorg with 1:10 remaining to advance.
"Our guys, a lot of them don't have that much experience," said SJA coach Les Siem. "Chris, this is only his third year out for wrestling because he played basketball before. But all of our kids keep fighting, they never give up."
Even though this year has been down for St. James Area, it has served as an experience to the inexperienced from Siem's first season at the helm.
"We have promising look from young guys," Siem said. "At seventh and eighth grade, I think we've got 30 kids out, so we have a lot of good younger kids coming up that have quite a bit of experience that they aren't just starting in the seventh and eighth grades. The future looks pretty good."
1. Blue Earth Area 198.5
2. St. Peter 148.0
3. Fairmont/Martin County West 145.0
4. St. James Area 127.0
5. New Ulm 120.0
6. Waseca 104.5
106 - Wyatt Gillette (SP) dec. Sean Howk (NU), 10-8
113 - Zach Buseman (BEA) mdec. Angel Zamarripa (SJA), 15-6
120 - Ryan Wacker (NU) mdec. Chris Ettesvold (F/M), 14-3
126 - Sage Loredo-Hollon (SP) dec. Camden Bowers (BEA), 10-5
132 - Alex Huber (BEA) dec. Collin Thompson (SP), 9-2
138 - Mike Ankeny (BEA) dec. Tristan Hoy (W), 4-2
145 - Elijah Gronewold (F/M) pinned Jordan Stelter (BEA), 4:57
152 - No. 8 Joe Weber (F/M) dec. Luke Schavey (BEA), 5-2
160 - No. 10 Gus Phillips (BEA) mdec. Tanner Lange (F/M), 15-5
170 - No. 8 David Franta (BEA) pinned Sam Hoppe (NU), 3:30
182 - Kyle Bosacker (SP) pinned Chris Johnson (SJA), 3:32
195 - Kory Brown (F/M) dec. Jacob Johnson (BEA), 8-4
220 - Luis Figueroa (F/M) dec. Dylan Winegar, 7-6
Hwt - No. 4 Martin Grandados (BEA) pinned Adrian Moscoffian (F/M), 0:31
New Ulm wrestlers
106 - Sean Howk, 2-1, 2nd
113 - Hunter Ranweiler, 0-2, 5th
120 - Ryan Wacker, 3-0, 1st
126 - Taylor Bode, 0-3, 6th
132 - Open
138 - Austin Brandes, 1-1, 3rd
145 - Jagger Hoffmann, 1-2, 5th
152 - Max Deslauriers, 1-2, 4th
160 - Riley Shelgren, 1-2, 4th
170 - Sam Hoppe, 1-1, 2nd
182 - Cole Wilfahrt, 2-1, 3rd
195 - Lorenzo Hernandez, 0-2, 4th
220 - Braxton Greenwaldt, 1-2, 5th
Hwt - Nate Berg, 0-3, 6th
St. James wrestlers
106 - Mario Garcia, 2-1, 3rd
113 - Angel Zamarripa, 2-1, 2nd
120 - Austin Friedrich, 1-2, 4th
126 - Joe Dominguez, 2-1, 3rd
132 - Maxwell Svalland, 1-2, 4th
138 - Tyler Westman, 1-2, 4th
145 - Kody Curry, 2-1, 3rd
152 - Josh Stordalen, 1-1, 3rd
160 - Simon Beck, 2-1, 3rd
170 - Alejandro Lara, 1-2, 4th
182 - Chris Johnson, 1-1, 2nd
195 - Collin Hoppe, 0-2, 5th
220 - Ethan Stick, 0-3, 6th
Hwt - Andrew Kinnetz, 1-2, 5th