Owen Bjerga and Craig Orlando both entered the Class 1A State Individual Tournament Friday, March 1, with one loss.

They both left the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with that same number.

Bjerga, a junior for the Staples-Motley Cardinals, collected a 10-3 victory over Wyatt Simon in his opening-round match and then sent Ayden Friese of Quad County to the wrestlebacks, or consolation bracket, with a 6-1 decision in the quarterfinals of the 160-pound bracket.

Bjerga, the No. 2-ranked 160-pounder and third-seeded wrestler will take his 46-1 record against Caleb Vacura of Badger-Greenbush-Middle River in the championship semifinals.

Vacura was seeded 10th and was not ranked entering the tournament. He knocked off Ashton Hanen with a 5:25 pin and then scored an overtime win over the No. 2-seeded Cole Vanoverbeke of Minneota to set up the matchup with Bjerga.

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Class 1A State Wrestling

  • Highlights: S-M's Owen Bjerga and Spencer Miller and BHVPP's Craig Orlando advance to the championship semifinals
  • Next: Class 1A State Individual Tournament at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul

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Like Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Class 1A Team Tournament, Orlando pinned everyone in his way. He opened with a 2:28 pin of Quinn Mathisen of Howard Lake-Waverly and then pinned Jakob Swalla in 1:08 to advance to the semifinal round.

Orlando, a junior for the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie Raiders improves to 45-1. He's also the defending 285-pound champion and will defend both his record and title against Brandon Willis of Mille Lacs. The fifth-seeded Willis was ranked fourth in the final state poll and owns a 33-3 record after winning by a pin and in overtime over No. 4-seeded Jesse Jackson of Kenyon-Wanamingo.

Bjerga's teammate Spencer Miller will also compete in the championship semifinals. The senior 152-pounder posted a 13-6 victory in his first match over Jared Schroepfer and then topped Zack Holtz 8-2 to advance to the semifinals.

The fourth-ranked and fifth-seeded Miller will face top-seeded Chandler Mooney of Roseau Saturday. Mooney is 45-0 after beating Aitkin's Quin Miller in the first round and then pinning BOLD's Anthony Maher in the quarterfinals.

Spencer Miller is 25-3.

Quin Miller improved to 29-22 after collected a 7-5 victory over Maher in the wrestlebacks. The Aitkin senior will face Holtz Saturday.

Also advancing through the wrestlebacks was Aitkin's Luke Pelarski, who collected a 4-3 decision over Minneota's Blake Reiss. Pelarski, the Section 7-2A 138-pound runner-up, will face the Section 7-2A champion in Deer River's Trey Fairbanks.

Crosby-Ironton's Taylor Eigenheer opened against the top-seeded 220-pounder in Dominik Vacura of Badger-Greenbush-Middle River and suffered a 15-7 loss, but rebounded with a 3:22 technical fall of Jabari Carlton from Windom-Mountain Lake to advance to Saturday.


Opening-round results

106: Logan Butzon (Jackson County Central) dec. Marshall Larson (Aitkin) 11-5; Larson finishes 30-18

120: Ross Herber (Lewiston-Altura-Rushford-Peterson) maj. dec. Carson Kullhem (Aitkin) 9-0; Kullhem finishes 31-16

126: Adam Christopher (Crosby-Ironton) dec. Ramzee Molinaro (Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City) 16-12; Canon Swanson (Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa) tech. fall Jason Koehn (BHVPP) 5:16

132: Jack Gravelle (Aitkin) maj. dec. Trevor Arceneau (BHVPP) 13-4; Nate Williams (Crosby-Ironton) dec. Bray Olson (Kenyon-Wanamingo) 7-2; Arceneau finishes 35-14

138: Blayne Dumpprope (Staples-Motley) dec. Kaden Hiemenz (Frazee) 8-2; Mark Buringa (St. Charles) dec. Luke Pelarski (Aitkin) 7-3

145: Tyler Spolarich (Aitkin) dec. Devin Dean (BHVPP) 7-3; Dean finishes 35-12

152: Spencer Miller (Staples-Motley) dec. Jared Schroepfer (Wabasso-Red Rock Central) 13-6; Chandler Mooney (Roseau) pinned Quin Miller (Aitkin) 0:50

160: Owen Bjerga (Staples-Motley) dec. Wyatt Simon (Maple River) 10-3

182: Trevor Eisfeld (Tracy-Milroy-Balaton-Westbrooke-Walnut-Grove) dec. Zavier Grefe (BHVPP) 7-1

220: Dominik Vacura (Badger-Greenbush-Middle River) maj. dec. Taylor Eigenheer (Crosby-Ironton) 15-7

285: Craig Orlando (BHVPP) pinned Quinn Mathisen (Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted) 2:28


Championship quarterfinals

126: Jorge Hernandez (LeSueur-Henderson) dec. Christopher 8-2

132: Derek Ellingson (Tracy-Milroy-Balaton-Westbrooke-Walnut-Grove) maj. dec. Gravelle 14-5; Jackson Hale (Grand Meadow-Leroy-Ostrander-Southland) dec. Williams 5-1

138: Tyler Bents (Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa) dec. Dumpprope 6-3

145: Kyle Cavanaugh (Caledonia-Houston) pinned Spolarich 2:39

152: Spencer Miller dec. Zach Holtz (Kimball) 8-2

160: Bjerga dec. Ayden Friese (Quad County) 6-1

285: Orlando pinned Jacob Swalla (Minnewaska) 1:08



126: Hunter Hitchen Fertile-Beltrami pinned Koehn 0:31; Koehn finishes 29-24; Landon Gode (Long Prairie-Grey Eagle) pinned Christopher 0:42; Christopher finishes 35-8

132: Tyler Jensen (Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa) dec. Williams 6-5; Williams finishes 41-8; Carter Sorenson (Fosston-Bagley) dec. Gravelle 5-2; Gravelle finishes 38-11

138: Pelarski dec. Blake Reiss (Minneota) 4-3; Jaxen Klinkner (Blue Earth) pinned Dumpprope 3:43; Dumpprope finishes 25-4

145: Eion Ness (United North Central) pinned Spolarich 4:02; Spolarich finishes 14-6

152: Miller (Aitkin) dec. Anthony Maher (BOLD) 7-5

182: Austin Smith (Walker-Hackensack-Akeley) dec. Grefe 4-3; Grefe finishes 39-7

220: Eigenheer tech. fall Jabari Carlton (Windom-Mountain Lake) 3:22