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Class 2A and 1A prelims: Anticipated battle of top undefeateds highlights title day matches

By Paul Hodowanic and Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune staff writers, 02/28/20, 10:09PM CST


Danny Striggow and Bennett Tabor know the stakes and what to expect Saturday.

Danny Striggow of Orono, top, threw down Garrison Solliday of St. Thomas Academy. Photo: David Joles *

Two undefeated 220-pound wrestlers appear to be on a collision course for a championship match showdown Saturday. Defending champion Danny Striggow (17-0) of Orono and Simley’s Bennett Tabor (48-0) each made quick work of opening-round opponents on Friday.

Although each wrestler has a semifinal match before they could meet, Tabor is already envisioning what Saturday could be.

“From the beginning of the season I’ve wanted to go undefeated and win a state championship,” he said, adding he’s been prepping for Striggow for a while. “I’ve been watching film and keeping an eye out for what he’s done [all season].”

The sample size for Striggow is small; a dislocated elbow sidelined him for most of the season. But Striggow, who has committed to Minnesota to play football, isn’t worried about his conditioning.

“I’m back and ready to go, ready to finish it out,” he said.

Class 1A

All year, Will Magaard has had just one thought: Atone for a fluke that cost him a chance at state championship last year.

The Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg senior, the 2018 106-pound champion, lost a match in the Section 5 semifinals in 2019 when he blacked out while in a headlock.

“It definitely motivated me,” he said. “It’s good to get back down here to show everybody the work I’ve put in.

Standing in Magaard’s path to another title was quarterfinals opponent Brett Willaby of Windom/Mountain Lake. Willaby was the state champion at 126 pounds in 2019, setting up one of the premier matches on Friday.

Magaard used a takedown, with two added back points, as the match ended to rally to beat Willaby 11-8 and get one step closer to returning to the top of the podium.

His coach, Wes Haglund, said Magaard “was so devoted, this whole year was put in to make up for what happened last year. You can’t outwork him. … He’s getting his revenge on everybody he wrestles.”

Orlando just wins

Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie senior heavyweight Craig Orlando can’t really explain why he’s been so dominant over his high school career.

“I lift a lot of weights,’’ Orlando said. “Maybe that’s it.”

After his second pin of the day, Orlando moved within two matches of his third consecutive state title and improved his record to 48-0. But he doesn’t wrestle outside of the high school season. In fact, he’s giving up wrestling after the meet to focus on football. He’s signed to play defensive line at the University of North Dakota.

“I’ve been wrestling since before preschool,” Orlando said. “Since I was 3 years old. But I like football better. I like to hit people.”

Still undefeated

Trevor Janssen, Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena, 126 (36-0); Trey Fairbanks, Deer River, 145 (36-0); Zack Holtz, Kimball, 152 (34-0), Trevor Eisfeld, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove, 182 (49-0); Tyler VanLuik, Minnewaska, 195 (48-0), and Craig Orlando, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie, heavyweight (48-0).

Champs still alive

Drayton Morton, Sibley East, 120; Charley Elwood, Medford, 132; Tyson Meyer, Minnewaska Area, 170; Dominik Vacura, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River, 220, and Craig Orlando, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie, heavyweight

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