With a last name that carries a lot of weight in wrestling circles, Simley senior Mack Short was understandably nervous before his Class 2A 152-pound championship match on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
“I was very nervous,” Short said. “I felt like I had to calm down before I went out there.”
Short performed as so many in the Short family have before, dominating Foley’s Carter Nielsen 7-3 to win his first state championship.
“I knew I was better than him,” said Short, whose uncle in coach Will Short and cousin is four-time state champ Jake Short. “This has been my goal all season and I finally did it.”
Also from Class 2A:
• Totino-Grace junior Lance Benick won his third consecutive championship, winning his second consecutive 195-pound championship when he scored a technical fall over Foley’s Mitch Struffert. Benick, who is the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country at his weight, then wowed the crowd with a round-off back-flip, a celebration that has become his trademark at state tournaments. Benick has done the same thing after each of his state titles.
• Kasson-Mantorville heavyweight Sam Stoll finished his career with another pin, bumping his national record to 63 in a row, when he stuck Brandon Merten of Milaca at 1:19. It was Stoll’s second state title.
• Another Kasson-Mantorville wrestler, freshman Brady Berge, won his second title. Berge beat Ryan Kottschade of Plainville-Elgin-Millville 22-9. Berge won the 106-pound championship as a seventh-grader. He said that not winning again in eighth grade had bothered him all year. “It’s something I’ve thought about since last year,” Berge said. “Now that I’ve won again, it’s time to move on to bigger goals.”
Cameron Sykora felt the only thing that could stop him from winning a fourth-straight state title was going to be his health.
He battled injuries all season, including a fractured collarbone that forced him out of nearly three weeks worth of matches around Christmastime.
“I just kept fighting, knowing that if I was healthy I could beat anyone,” he said. “I had confidence in that.”
On Saturday, he said he felt the best he had all season, and it showed.
Sykora won 15-0 on a technical fall in the third period, beating previously undefeated Spencer Jenniges of Wabasso/Red Rock Central at 120 lbs.
And almost immediately, Sykora’s mind was on one thing: becoming just the fifth Minnesota wrestler to win five state titles.
“That’s been my motivation,” he said. “Once you win and get on top, kids want to knock you down, so you have to keep working.”
Smooth rolling for Rose
Sibley East’s Nathan Rose has a habit of making a grueling sport look relaxing.
The third-ranked 195-pound wrestler in the country cruised to his third straight Class 1A state title, methodically working over Vincent Johnson of Windom/Mountain Lake 11-3 in the championship match, smoothly picking up points and never leaving himself open to attacks from his opponent.
As even keel off the mat as he is on it, the future Gopher credited everything to his training — and his lone loss of the last two seasons.
“It … just makes me work that much harder,” he said of the Feb. 1 defeat to Totino-Grace’s Lance Benick, who is ranked No. 1 in the country.
Comes in threes
If he’s being honest, Chatfield junior Hank Friederichs said he has to admit he thought about it right after his football team finished off the Class 2A state title last fall.
And with a narrow escape in the final seconds of his 138-pound championship match, Friederichs did jus that, taking the individual state title to go with the Class 1A team trophy Chatfield won Thursday.
“You know, it was a goal. I thought it would be amazing to win three state titles,” he said. “It’s just incredible to have it actually happen.”