Simley's Cael Berg, left, wrestling against Princeton's Will Schultz III in the team competition, later won his second consecutive individual title at 160 pounds. Photo: DAVID JOLES • email@example.com
Before Friday’s Class 2A individual finals, Simley coach Will Short admitted that when he coaches, he always keeps the tournament’s individual aspect in mind.
“We obviously had a very dominant team, so we were training a lot of these guys for individuals,” he said. “A lot of these guys have goals and aspirations.”
The catalyst was COVID-19, which limited the amount of matches a wrestler could have in a single day.
“We weren’t used to the four, five matches we might have in the state meet,” Short said.
His analysis was spot on. The Spartans had 12 wrestlers qualify for the individual tournament, and six of them won state championships.
“It definitely helped,” said senior Quayin Short, who won his first title as 195 pounds. “But I wasn’t tired. I feel like I could go three more matches.”
For the Short name, the first family of wrestling at Simley, state titles are relatively common. Will Short, Quayin’s uncle, has won two. Other family members have won multiple championships. Quayin said it was nice to finally get one of his own.
“Ever since I was little, they’ve always said ‘It’s just a name. It’s the work that wins championships,’ ” he said. “But it means a lot. And it just feels great.”
Teammate Ryan Sokol defeated Eddie Simes of Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield at 152 pounds with a 22-7 technical fall. Sokol, a Cornell University recruit, had won at 132 pounds as a sophomore and 145 pounds last year.
“Three-time state champ, that’s a pretty big deal, so I’m excited,” said Sokol, the fifth three-time champion in Simley history.
Other Simley winners were Chase DeBlaere at 138 pounds, Cael Berg at 160, Gavin Nelson at 220 and Bennett Tabor at heavyweight. For DeBlaere, Berg and Tabor (a University of Minnesota recruit), it was their second consecutive title.
• Kasson-Mantorville junior Bennett Berge became the second member of the Berge family to become a four-time state champion when he defeated Caden DeWall of Becker 7-3 at 182. Older brother Brady, who now wrestles at Penn State, won four titles between 2012 and 2017.
• Byron junior Maxwell Peterson, after winning at 106 pounds as an eighth-grader in 2018, lost to DeBlaere in the 132-pound final. It was his third straight runner-up finish.
Peterson had handed DeBlaere his only loss of the season in the state tournament preliminary round. Peterson finished 35-1.
• Big Lake’s Christian Noble added another championship, catching Simley’s Reid Nelson with a takedown late in the first period and finishing with a pin with three seconds left in the period at 120 pounds. Noble, a sophomore, has won 70 consecutive matches.
• Fairmont/Martin County West senior Jaxson Rohman won the Class 2A title at 113 pounds as a ninth-grader. He finally returned to the winner’s circle Friday, defeating Ethan Lebrija of Morris/Hancock/Chokio-Alberta 15-6 at 126.
• Princeton’s Tyler Wells won his second consecutive state title, earning a second-period technical fall victory over New London-Spicer freshman Luke Knudsen at 113.
• Other winners were Jack Nelson of Mound Westonka at 106 pounds, Austin Gabbert of Watertown-Mayer at 132, Brady Kasprick of Thief River Falls at 145 and Adam Sylvester of Totino-Grace ar 170.
106: Jack Nelson, Mound Westonka
113: Tyler Wells, Princeton
120: Christian Noble, Big Lake
126: Jaxson Rohman, Fairmont/Martin Co. W.
132: Austin Gabbert, Watertown-Mayer/ML
138: Chase DeBlaere, Simley
145: Brady Kasprick, Thief River Falls
152: Ryan Sokol, Simley
160: Cael Berg, Simley
170: Adam Sylvester, Totino-Grace
182: Bennett Berge, Kasson-Mantorville
195: Quayin Short, Simley
220: Gavin Nelson, Simley
285: Bennett Tabor, Simley