The stage is set for some top-notch quarterfinal action Friday evening in the Class 3A individual state wrestling tournament in St. Paul.
It kicked off late afternoon with Ben Morgan of Forest Lake defeating three-time state champion Dakota Trom of Apple Valley 7-3 in a 132-pound match at Xcel Energy Center.
It’s a tilt with future Big Ten possibilities, and plenty of back-story.
Morgan, a Nebraska recruit ranked No. 1 at 132, had won a state championship as an eighth-grader at 112 pounds in 2008 but since has placed third at state every year since. Two of those semifinal losses in those years came to Apple Valley wrestlers: Matt Kelliher in 2009 and last year to seventh-grader Mark Hall in four overtimes.
Trom, ranked No. 2, is a Gophers recruit who was vying to become the 12th wrestler in Minnesota history to finish his career as a four-time champ.
Morgan defeated Trom 5-3 in December’s Minnesota Christmas Tournament finals.
There were no major upsets in Friday morning's opening round.
Other quarterfinal action later Friday includes:
- The Brancale family will be on pins and needles in back-to-back weights. Freshman Ben Brancale, ranked No. 4 at 120 pounds, takes on Irondale’s Dustin Weinmann (No. 5) while the state’s No. 2-ranked wrestler at 126, Sam Brancale, tussles with Apple Valley’s Shamer Williams (No. 3).
- Weinmann’s brothers Ryan (113 pounds) and Derek (152) also won their first-round matches as did brothers James (113) and Michael (126) Pleski of Forest Lake
- St. Cloud Apollo’s Mitch Bengtson ran his win streak to 177 matches with a pin.
- Making his fifth state tournament appearance, Wayzata’s Weston Droegemueller is into the quarterfinals. That is not news until you figure the junior has never placed. He was knocked out in the first round each of the last two years.
- Last year’s 152-pound runner-up, Adam Jackson of Rosemount, defeated Cambridge-Isanti’s Cody Skog in the opening round. Skog, the No. 2-ranked wrestler at 160, bumped down for the state tournament.
- Eleven of of the 13 Apple Valley wrestlers won opening-round matches.