By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
ST. PAUL - During his first three matches at the 2014 Minnesota state wrestling tournament, Alex Schroepfer spent less than one full match on the mat.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Wabasso/Red Rock Central's Alex Schroepfer (black uniform) wrestles Taylor Carlson of United South Central in the Class A 285-pound championship match Saturday at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. Schroepfer won the match for the championship.
That is because the Wabasso/Red Rock Central senior pinned three of his four opponents in 3:39 - an average of 1:13 - en route to winning the Class A heavyweight title.
"It feels like nothing in the world," Schroepfer said moments after having his hand raised following his win in the title match Saturday night. "I worked all my life for this and I finally got it."
After placing fifth at last year's state tournament, Schroepfer said seeing how River Valley's Lance Briard broke past his fifth-place finish to win the state title as a senior in 2013 helped motivate him to follow the same path.
"He's confident and he's always had the ability," said W/RRC co-head coach Gary Hindt of Schroepfer. "He's physically more ready this year than ever before, you can see it in his conditioning.
"He's very well-conditioned, but he's only had to take two of his opponents into the third period."
Getting off to a quick start was Schroepfer's bread and butter on the mat, catching his opponents off guard - even catching them on their backs.
"Most people don't expect it," Schroepfer said. "People look at me and think I'm slow. I'm pretty quick."
The state title match was a little tougher for Schroepfer, who nearly had Carlson pinned near the edge of the mat in the first period but ended up winning in a full-length 9-5 decision.
"I think all the other wrestlers talked to each other and they knew what I was going to go up there and do," Schroepfer said. "That first move really helped me out."
The highlight of Schroepfer's path to the title match was his victory against No. 2 Garrett Malstrom of Frazee in the quarterfinals. While holding a 2-0 lead after the first period, Schroepfer caught Malstrom from the bottom and notched a reversal before pinning him early in the second.
"I was sitting there in the wrestler's position and I could feel him reaching around my waist," Schroepfer said. "I knew could catch that elbow, so I did and caught him on his back. So it worked."
Even though Schroepfer's victory was a satisfying ending to the Bobcats' night, it began with a nasty case of dj vu for Spencer Jenniges.
Having spent the entire season ranked No. 2, Jenniges lost to top-ranked Cameron Sykora of Border West to finish second in the tournament. This was the second-straight time Sykora has beaten Jenniges in the finals - the first happened in the 113-pound title match in 2013.
Jenniges came out going toe to toe with Sykora - both of whom were a combined 80-0 heading into that match. Spending the entire first period on his feet was what Jenniges said was his only advantage.
A takedown by Sykora at the 1:03 mark in the second period soon yielded him some back points that made the match go south rather quickly. As the second period came to a close, Sykora had already tallied a 9-0 lead.
"That's what he's known for is his tilt and everything like that," Jenniges said of Sykora. "He just has the knack to get your left arm and it's hard stopping it."
Sykora tallied more back points in the third period to end Jenniges' otherwise-unblemished season with a 15-0 technical fall.
"It was a good first period," Hindt said. "We had a game plan, but he wasn't able to follow it out once he got taken down. Sykora's so good on top at scoring huge points that we knew we had to stay on our feet."
Hindt said Jenniges was faced with the option of staying down at 113 pounds to avoid Sykora, but opted to instead stay the course.
"I ended my career with 149 wins," Jenniges said. "I would have liked to get that 150, but I didn't quite get it."