Simley's Jake Short stood in the tunnel underneath the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night fresh off a pin of Josh Selly of Tri-City in the Class 2A 152-pound final.
Short had just completed a storied high school career, finishing with a 48-0 record this season and four state championships for his career. He should have been elated, but he wasn't. He had just watched his cousin Mack lose in triple-overtime at 145 pounds and his emotions were mixed, at best.
"It's awesome to win another one. There's nothing like it," he said. "It was tough to see my cousin lose like that, but in wrestling, you have to put things behind you."
His melancholy was short-lived. Two matches later, he watched teammate Nick Wanzek win his third straight title, taking first at 170 pounds.
Bold move pays off
Totino-Grace sophomore Lance Benick could have qualified at 182 pounds and won his second straight state championship at that weight. But he had one thing in mind: revenge.
Benick's only loss this season was to Kasson-Mantorville 195-pound senior Broc Berge at the Christmas Tournament in December. Beating Berge was his biggest goal.
Mission accomplished. Benick made an escape stand up, beating Berge, the 2012 195-pound champion, 2-1 in triple overtime. "Beating him was all I wanted," Benick admitted.
Another championship ... at last
Nate Thomas won the Class 2A 103-pound championship in 2010. Three years and two shoulder surgeries later, Thomas was a champion again. The Kasson-Mantorville senior threw Juan Torres of Simley in the third period, breaking a tie and going on to win the 126-pound championship.
"There were times when I started to wonder if I would never win another one," said Thomas, who will wrestle at Minnesota next year. "It's been a long way back. It's pretty special.
Nathan Rose spent most of Saturday night standing at the front of the entrance to the mat to the Class 1A finals, bouncing on the balls of his feet, eyes focused on the action in front of him.
With an 89-match winning streak to protect, the Sibley East 195-pound junior was not taking any chances.
"I was getting my head clear and trying to stay focused," Rose said moments after defeating Blue Earth's Kysten Zierke 11-4 for his second straight championship and 90th victory in a row. "At the higher weights, you can get pinned quick if you're not careful."
Second time around
It's been said that defending a championship can be tougher than winning the first one. Madelia/Truman 160-pound senior Adam Cooling can attest to that. The 145-pound champion in 2012, Cooling completed an undefeated season (44-0) at 160 pounds, capping it with a difficult 2-1 victory over Jordan Rothers of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg.
"Oh, yeah, this one was a lot tougher than last year," said Cooling. "I was a target for everyone. There were times when I felt more like the hunted than the hunter."