State Wrestling: Verndale’s Ervasti wins state title

Results from the State Individual Wrestling Tournament Saturday, March 4.

A wrestler gets her arm raised after winning.
Verndale junior Abby Ervasti celebrates after winning the girls' 138-pound title Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in the state individual wrestling tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

ST. PAUL — Abby Ervasti was a win away last year.

Saturday, March 4, the Verndale junior, who wrestles for the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie Raiders, made it all the way to the top as she captured the 138-pound title at the State Individual Wrestling Tournament at Xcel Energy Center.

Ervasti defeated top-seeded and No 2 ranked Diann Smith 3-1 in the championship match to win her first state title.

She opened the tournament against Kelsey Cruz Rojas in the quarterfinals and recorded an 8-6 decision. She then topped Cece Rock of Luverne 7-2 to advance to the championship match.

Ervasti finishes the season with a 22-4 record.


Aitkin’s Madelyn Strohmayer opened her state tournament with a pin in the 114-pound bracket and ended it with a fourth-place finish. She fell to Bernie Rock in the semifinals 4-2 before losing a 10-4 decision to Rosemount’s Kamdyn Saulter in the third-place match.

Strohmayer finishes her junior season with a 25-4 record.

Class 1A

A wrestler makes a move.
Staples-Motley freshman Colbe Tappe makes a move in the Class 1A 138-pound championship match Saturday, March 4, 2023, at the Xcel Energy Center.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

Staples-Motley freshman Colbe Tappe advanced through the 138-pound Class 1A bracket to the championship match Saturday, March 4.

The No. 2 seeded Cardinal ran into top-seeded Thomas Freking of Jackson County Central. Freking scored a 4-3 decision to win the match and land Tappe in second. Tappe, advanced to the finals with a 7-1 decision over Cory Scanlan in the semifinals. He finished the year with a 43-4 record.

Teammate Elijah Greenwaldt finished third after falling in the championship semifinals to Pipestone’s Miklo Hernandez. Greenwaldt rebounded with an 8-5 victory over West Central’s Owen Gruchow. In the third-place match, Greenwaldt dispatched Brady Murphy, who he already defeated in the quarterfinal round, 8-6 to place third.

Crosby-Ironton’s John Paul Fitzpatrick placed fourth in the 152-pound bracket. The senior lost in the semifinal to top-seeded Austin Kiecker of BOLD. Fitzpatrick rebounded with a 2-0 decision over Sawyer Simmons to jump into the third-place match. He faced Minneota’s Zak Fier, who topped Fitzpatrick 3-0. Fitzpatrick finished his final year with a 47-4 record.

Wrestlers look for an advantage.
Crosby-Ironton senior John Paul Fitzpatrick looks for an advantage during a match Saturday, March 4, 2023, during the Class 1A State Individual Tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

Class 2A


Aitkin’s Jacob Williams secured a fifth-place finish in the 182-pound Class 2A bracket. The sophomore opened with a 7-3 victory over Perham’s Braylon Rach. A loss to top-seeded Caden O’Malley put Williams into the fifth-place match where he defeated Tate Link.

Pierz’s Carter Youn also competed in the fifth-place match but fell to Simley’s Jake Kos to place sixth.

Class 1A

106: Semifinals-Miklo Hernandez (Pipestone) dec. Elijah Greenwaldt (Staples-Motley) 4-2 OT; Greenwaldt dec. Owen Gruchow (West Central) 8-5; Third-place match; Greenwald dec. Brady Murphy (WEJW) 8-6; Greenwaldt finishes 40-7

138: Semifinals-Colbe Tappe (Staples-Motley) dec. Cory Scanlan (CAHO) 7-1; Championship-Thomas Freking (Jackson County Central) dec. Tappe 4-3; Tappe finishes 43-4

152: Semifinals-Ausitn Kiecker (BOLD) pinned John Paul Fitzpatrick (Crosby-Ironton) 5:29; Wrestlebacks-Fitzpatrick dec. Sawyer Simmons (ROUP) 2-0; Third-place-Zak Fier (Minneota) dec. Fitzpatrick 3-0; Fitzpatrick finishes 47-4

285: Brandon Mugg (Roup) dec. Braden Shamp (Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie) 7-4; Shamp finishes 29-19

Class 2A

113: Semifinals-Titan Friederichs pinned Carter Young (Pierz) 3:04, Wrestlebacks-Jackson Refsnider (Totino Grace) dec. Young; Fifth-place-Jake Kos (Simley) pinned Young 2:57; Young finishes 34-5

182: Wrestlebacks-Jacob Williams (Aitkin) dec. Braylon Rach (Perham) 7-3, Caden O’Malley dec. Williams 8-5, Fifth-place-Williams Tate Link (Dassel-Cokato) inj. forfeit; Williams finishes 36-8

195: Wrestlebacks-Leighton Robb (St. Peter) dec. Corbin Knapp (Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus) 5-2; Knapp finishes 42-5

285: Brady Rhode pinned Riley Peterson (Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus 2:43; Peters finishes 39-11


114 pounds: Quarterfinals-Madelyn Strohmayer (Ait) pinned Gisele Gallegos (South St. Paul) 4:32; Semifinals-Bernie Rock (Luverne) dec. Strohmayer 4-2; third-place match-Kamdyn Saulter (Rosemount) dec. Strohmayer 10-4; Strohmayer finishes 25-4

132 pounds: Quarterfinals-Jaden Ruegsegger (Centennial) pinned Faith Koning 0:22; Consolation Semifinals-Imrie Mistic (Bemidji) pinned Koning 4:45; Koning finishes 12-7

138 pounds: Quarterfinals-Abby Ervasti (Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie) dec. Kelsey Cruz Rojas (Blake) 8-6; Semifinals-Ervasti dec. Cece Rock (Luverne) 7-2; Championship-Ervasti dec. Diann Smith (Austin) 3-1

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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