Area Wrestling: Area wrestlers prepare for state individuals

The Class 1A, 2A and girls division state wrestling preview

Wrestling during the Paul Bunyan Invite on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at Brainerd High School.
Pierz's Carter Young wrestles during the Paul Bunyan Invite on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, at Brainerd High School.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

ST. PAUL — Last year was the first time girls wrestled under the lights of Xcel Energy Center for a chance at a state title.

This year, the number of participants has doubled.

This year there are eight wrestlers in each of the 12 weight classes for the girls.

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Pequot Lakes vs. Maple River in the Class 2A State Consolation Finals Thursday, March 23.

Aitkin’s Madelyn Strohmayer at 114 pounds is one girl to watch at the State Wrestling Individual Championships March 3-4 at the Xcel Energy Center.

Strohmayer placed second at 114 last year at state. She returns after her second-place finish in the Section D girls tournament.


Her record sits at 24-2, which is good enough to be seeded second in the 114-pound state bracket. It could set up a rematch with top-seed Aspen Blasko of Forest Lake, who Strohmayer lost to in the section finals with an 8-6 decision.

“What we need to do is get through the tough competition because it will be a fight to get in the finals,” Aitkin head coach Larry Liljenquist said. “She’s been down at the big show before and knows the deal.”

Strohmayer isn’t the only area girl competing at state as Wadena-Deer Creek’s Faith Koning (12-5) made it at 132. She’ll face off against Centennial’s Jaden Ruegsegger (11-1) in the quarterfinals.

Verndale’s Abby Ervasti (19-4) made state at 138. She wrestles Kelsey Cruz Rojas (20-12) in the quarterfinals.

Class 1A

In Class 1A, Staples-Motley sends three wrestlers to the state tournament.

Eli Greenwaldt (36-6) is seeded fifth at 106 and Colbe Tappe (40-3) is seeded second at 138.

Staples-Motley head coach Jim Jackson said both those guys have a good chance at making the podium.

“Both those guys have a chance to do really well,” he said.


Tappe faces off against Tony Baumann (33-12) of Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Greenwaldt matches against Connor Carlson (18-19) of Kimball.

Jason Trantina (31-12) is S-M’s other state wrestler at 132. He won his true second-place match in triple overtime to reach state. He will be matched with Bolton Thesing (43-5) of Dover-Eyota.

“(Trantina) is the only senior on our team and to come back to win a close match like that is incredible,” Jackson said. “He’s taken the leadership role and been a hard worker and the hard work pays off.”

Crosby-Ironton’s John Paul Fitzpatrick (44-2) will look to make noise again as the No. 4 seed at 152. The senior is in his fourth state tournament where he finished second in 2021 at 138 and third in 2020 at 126.

“He’s got the minimum goal of placing,” C-I head coach Brian Wood said. “I think he can easily land in the top three in the state. He’s wrestling really well right now and not wrestling with a lot of pressure, which is a good thing. He has the physical ability, but sometimes it’s the mental part.”

Fitzpatrick’s opening round opponent is Patrick Forcier (36-11) of Border West.

Wadena-Deer Creek’s Koby Endres is the No. 4 seed at 195 and faces Ayden Goetzinger (40-6) of Caledonia-Houston.

Verndale’s Braden Shamp (27-17) wrestles Marcus Peterson (38-4) at 285 to round out the area wrestlers in Class 1A.


Class 2A

The Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew highlight the area wrestlers in Class 2A with five state individuals. The Road Crew also will compete in the team state tournament Thursday, March 2.

Parker Zutter (44-0) is the No. 2 seed at 113 and faces off against Vicente Lopez Marsh (26-3) of Minneapolis Edison.

“This is his third time at state and last year he got fifth,” Road Crew head coach Travis Hoffarth said. “He’s been one of our leaders. We like where he is set up and has a good path to the semifinals.”

Zutter could face Pierz’s Carter Young (32-2) in the quarterfinals. Young is one of four Pierz wrestlers to make the state individual tournament. He’ll face Aidan Carlson (31-17) of Mahtomedi in the opening round.

“His side of the bracket is a good side to be on,” Pierz head coach Skip Toops said of Young. “He’s also really good.”

Road Crew’s Easton Miller (41-2) earned the fifth seed at 120 and got matched with Max Carlson (24-11) of Boomington Kennedy.

“I also like his path,” Hoffarth said. “It’s his third time at state and I like his opening round match. He’s very capable of getting to the semifinals.”

At 182, Trey Tuchtenhagen (36-7) of the Road Crew gets to face Hunter Gibson (42-5) of MAHACA. Tuchtenhagen could see Aitkin’s Jacob Williams (33-6) in the quarterfinals.


Williams got paired with Tate Line (31-0) of Dassel-Cokato-Litchfield in the opening round.

Aitkin’s lone section champion came from Kenny Erickson (33-6) at 145. Erickson is the fifth seed and will face Laiken Copeman (26-13) of Zumbrota-Mazeppa.

“I saw his bracket and he’s got a great opportunity to see the podium as a junior,” Liljenquist said. “We have a good chance to see the podium with all three of the wrestlers we are sending down there.”

Road Crew’s Corbin Knapp (40-3) is the three seed at 195. He’ll match with Parker Bothun (31-12) of Dawson-Boyd-Lac Qui Parle-Montevideo in the opening round.

“Corbin is a three-time state entry now as well,” Hoffarth said. “He's been a constant figure in our lineup since he was an eighth grader and even into his freshman year. He was one match in placing at state last year. We like his path and feel like he has a chance to be a podium kid.”

The last Road Crew wrestler is Riley Peters (37-9) at 285. He faces Heath Parrish (36-9) of Kasson-Mantorville in the opening round.

Jacob LeBlanc (25-13) of Pierz reached state at 152 and faces Jon Gettel (40-3) of Benilde St. Margaret’s. At 138, Pierz’s Chase Becker (33-3) wrestles Jace Deyoung (25-14) of Stewartville and at 106 Pierz’s Derek Stangl (34-8) is matched with Broc Vaughn (35-9) of Kasson-Mantorville.

“106 is a tough weight class, but he will be ready to go,” Toop said. “LeBlanc made it down to the state tournament for the first time and he’s looking to turn some heads down there. If you look at Chase Becker’s side there are a lot of winnable matches as well.”


CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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