Totino-Grace goes as a team, Fridley, Heights send individuals
By Matthew Davis
A plethora of wrestlers from Totino-Grace, Fridley and Columbia Heights will compete in the Class 2A state wrestling individual tournament on Friday and Saturday this week.
Totino-Grace qualified six wrestlers for state at the Section 5AA individual tournament on Feb. 24-25 in Orono.
“All of our wrestlers have a shot at the podium if they wrestle well,” Eagles coach Doug Svihel said. “They just got to get by that first match.”
Eagles sophomore Jake Svihel, who returns to state, won 113 pounds when he beat Bloomington Kennedy sophomore Allen Everson in a fall at 1:06. Connor Dehn, another state returner for Totino-Grace, took second in 138 after beating Resse Averbeck of Bloomington Kennedy in the true second-place match. The Eagles freshman bounced back from getting pinned by Zach Bigelbach of Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the championship match.
Triston Zuniga made it in 120 with a second-place finish. The Eagles freshman beat Jacob Schmid of Orono 3-1 to advance in the second-place match.
Michael Menth, a Totino-Grace senior at 145, made it to state with a second-place match win over Nick Simafranca of Orono in a 15-6 major decision. Menth fell in the championship match 7-2 to Kendall Sandifer of Richfield.
Jared Florell secured a spot for state at 182 with a championship in Orono. The Eagles senior beat Bobby Striggow of Orono 9-7 for the title.
Nate Schutz also made it for Totino-Grace when he pinned Blaine Bauman of Orono in 3:50 for second place. Schutz, a junior, fell in the championship match 3-2 against Erick Lopez of Bloomington Kennedy.
Totino-Grace also made the team tournament with a section team title on Feb. 21. The Eagles (17-3) opened the state team tournament with No. 3 seed and unbeaten Scott West (19-0) at the Xcel Energy Center after press deadlines.
The State Wrestling Tournament will take place March 2 through March 4 in St. Paul. Also qualifying in Class AA was Kasson-Mantorville, Worthington, Grand Rapids, Scott West, Simley, Foley and Perham.
Hylanders send three to state
Columbia Heights’ Edwin Pesantez, a junior, made the tourney with a second-place finish at 106. Pesantez beat Totino-Grace’s Bryce Erkenbrack, a freshman, to secure second place. Pesantez bounced back from a championship match loss to Kole Krause of Bloomington Kennedy, 21-9.
Dylan Lentz of Columbia Heights also advanced to state with a championship in 160. The Hylanders junior beat Ben ZayZay of Fridley in a fall at 4:23.
Manny Alvarez also secured a spot for the Hylanders with a win at 285. Alvarez, a junior, beat Richard Juberian of Bloomington Kennedy 4-1 for the heavyweight title.
“I expect all three to compete well,” Hylanders coach Alex Wong said. “They’ve had very successful regular seasons and I am confident it will roll into the state tournament.”
Fridley puts four in the state ring
ZayZay, also a junior, bounced back for second though since beat the other the second-place finalist, Larry Sanchez, of Minneapolis Roosevelt.
Jack Nguyen will also represent Fridley at the tournament after capturing first for 120 in Orono. The Tigers sophomore won against Zuniga 9-6.
“Jack Nguyen and Ben ZayZay are first-time state entrants so they both face seeded wrestlers,” Tigers coach Eric Anderson said. “However, they both beat returning state entrants at the section tournament and are peaking at the right time.”
Nic Fite made it three Tigers at state after winning 132. The Fridley junior beat Xavier Judge of Bloomington Kennedy 5-1.
John Allen punched his ticket for Fridley with a section title at 220. Allen beat Alchan Robbs of Bloomington Kennedy for the championship, SV-1 6-4.
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