Record-setting season continues as NUA sends 8 wrestlers to state
NEW ULM — The New Ulm Area wrestling team will be sending a program-record of eight wrestlers to the state individual wrestling tournament this year.
Representing the Eagles at the state individual wrestling preliminaries at 9 a.m. Saturday will be Parker Kamm (106), Logan Lee (113), Winsten Nienhaus (120), Marqavian Haefner (132), Wyatt Pollard (138), Cole Ranweiler (182), Julian Hernandez (220) and Jaden Drill (285).
This year sees four different locations for prelims. Two sections — and four wrestlers from each weight class per section — will compete at one site together. Section 3AA, NUA’s section, will pair with Section 2AA on Saturday at Redwood Valley High School.
The state semifinals and finals will take place the following weekend at St. Michael-Albertville High School.
The eight wrestlers advancing to the state tourney for NUA is only second to Fairmont, who advanced 11 wrestlers to state tourney action. NUA also had 23 team wins this season, which tied a school record.
“First and foremost, the fact that these kids got a chance, they didn’t waste their chance,” NUA head coach Kevin Briggs said. “They were thankful to be on the mat, so they worked hard every day, and it just culminated into about three months of hard work. And we talked that it’s not about your seed, it’s not about what’s happened in the past, it’s about how you’re wrestling at the end of the year, and I thought on Tuesday, our kids wrestled well and earned their trips to Saturday.”
Ranweiler will be the lone senior making the trip to state this season for NUA, and he leads the team in wins with a 29-1 record. He will be making his third state appearance and will first be taking on Waseca’s Payton Garza (15-12).
“For the prelim tournament, my goals are to wrestle my matches and hopefully come out winning the tournament,” Ranweiler said.
Ranweiler added that he’s been proud of the team’s overall success this year.
“Everybody works well together, so it’s just awesome to be a part of such a good team,” he said.
Parker Kamm, one of three freshmen representing the Eagles at state this year, leads the team in pins this year with 20. He also has a 29-4 record and will be making his first state appearance on Saturday.
“Last year we couldn’t get anything because we had so many open weights, we didn’t have many wins,” Kamm said. “This year we came back strong, everyone was working hard in the room, we’re like a family. We did everything together, worked hard and came back.”
Kamm, who will first take on Tri-City United’s Ayden Balma (21-7), added that a key goal he has for Saturday is to make it out of the first round and go from there.
Lee, another freshman representing NUA at state this season for the first time, leads NUA in takedowns this season and holds a 28-6 record.
“It’s really exciting,” Lee said of he and his teammates making state. “At first I didn’t think we were going to have a season, but with all the hard work we put in in the offseason and this season, the time that we’ve had has been really fun and exciting.”
Lee will first wrestle Cael Olson (23-6) of Delano on Saturday.
Nienhaus (20-14) and Pollard (15-19), two wrestlers from Sleepy Eye competing for NUA, will also make their first trip to state on Saturday. Nienhaus is a freshman, while Pollard is an eighth-grader.
“I want to show that I’m meant to be there,” Nienhaus said of his state appearance. “I don’t want to be that fourth, fifth seed that just possibly got there with a chance, I want to show that I’m meant to be there.”
Nienhaus will first take on Mason Gehloff (27-0) of Waseca on Saturday.
Pollard said that he’s taking this state trip as a chance to compete at a higher level and grow as a wrestler.
“I’m excited, and I just want to go out there and compete,” Pollard said. “I know a lot of the guys that are out there already, and I’ve wrestled them before, and I want to improve on how I did last time with them. I want to go and grow as a wrestler.”
Pollard will wrestle Waseca’s Oliver O’Brien (22-5) first on Saturday.
Haefner, a sophomore, will also be making his first trip to state. He holds an 18-14 record this year.
“I’m just hoping to make it as far as I can, wrestle as good as I can,” Haefner said.
Haefner also said that he’ll need more confidence on his feet Saturday in order to continue his success.
“I need to be more confident on my feet, set up my shot a lot faster and just get after it a lot more — can’t be slow,” he said.
Haefner will first match up with Austin Gabbert (28-1) of Watertown-Mayer Lutheran.
Hernandez, a junior with a 9-4 record, said that he’s looking to get through the first match on Saturday and go from there. He also said that the team has grown a lot from a season ago and that it’s been cool to see.
“It’s really cool,” Hernandez said of the team sending eight wrestlers to state. “Last year we didn’t too well — we had a lot of [younger] kids coming up. So now we’ve cleaned that up.”
Hernandez added that the main things he’ll look to do this Saturday is to come out more ready and keep moving his feet. He will first be wrestling Brady Andersen (13-10) of Hutchinson.
Drill, a junior that will be making his first trip to state on Saturday, leads NUA in team points and holds a 28-4 record.
“I think I’ve done pretty good,” Drill said of his season so far. “Really just working hard and staying in condition.”
As for Saturday, Drill will be looking to avoid making any silly mistakes.
“I really just want to wrestle my match and not do anything stupid,” Drill said.
Drill will first be wrestling Rieley Fleming (28-2) of Mankato East.
ALSO FROM THE AREA
Springfield will be sending two wrestlers to the Class A prelims at 10 a.m. Saturday at Windom High School. Springfield, representing Section 3A, will compete with Section 2A.
Representing the Tigers will be seniors Joe Anderson and Kadin Johnson.
Anderson holds a perfect 31-0 record and was the No. 1 seed in Section 3A. He has 14 pins and 149 team points and is currently ranked eighth in the state in Class A at 145 pounds.
Johnson is 27-5 this year with 13 pins and 148 team points. He was the No. 2 seed in the section tournament and will enter as the third seed on Saturday.
Wabasso (13-15), back to competing as a one-school team, will be sending a pair of Rabbits to the prelims on Saturday at Windom High School in seniors Tyler Bliss (182) and Hunter “Duke” Taylor (220).
Bliss is 19-12 this season with 14 pins and will be the fourth seed for Section 3A on Saturday when he first meets Section 2A’s top-seeded Brenden Jones from Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial.
Taylor holds a 22-9 record with 10 falls this season and will be the second seed in 3A this Saturday. He will first take on Kenyon-Wanamingo’s Logan Meyers, the third seed from 2A.
Section 4A’s Sibley East will be sending seven wrestlers to the state prelims this Saturday at Rochester Century High School, including last year’s state champion duo of Derek Steele and Drayden Morton.
Derek Steele (126), a senior making his fourth appearance at state, holds a 32-0 record and picked up his 150th win earlier this season. Morton (132), is a 28-0 junior this season and will also be making his fourth trip to state.
Making their state debuts for Sibley East will be eighth-grader Benito Diaz (106, 27-3), sophomore Logan Steele (113, 23-10), sophomore Josh Sotelo (138, 11-19), senior Jacob Hernandez (195, 21-9) and freshman Omar Martinez (285, 23-10).