State Wrestling: Wagner, Barrett advance to Championship Semis

Four Brainerd Warriors and a Little Falls Flyers competed in the Class 3A State Individual Wrestling Tournament.

A wrestler picks up another wrestler during a match
Brainerd's Gabe Wagner (in blue) picks up Dylan Olson of Farmington Friday, March 4, 2022, during their opening-round match of the Class 3A State Individual Wrestling Tournament at Xcel Energy Center.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

ST. PAUL — Gabe Wagner and Dalton Barrett are right where they want to be.

The Brainerd Warriors seniors won both of their matches Friday, March 4, on Day One of the Class 3A state individual tournament at Xcel Energy Center.

Wagner opened with a 7-3 decision over Farmington’s Dylan Olson and then scored a 7-2 decision over Josh Wagener of Waconia to advance to the Championship Semifinals.

“In the first round match, he was put on his back,” Brainerd head coach Mikkey White said. “It was a little scary there for about 15 seconds, but other than that short period of time, he was never really out of position. It was a good match for him, but he was never really in jeopardy other than that.”

Wagner will face Anoka’s Jacob Whitaker. The senior owns a 35-5 record and was ranked No. 10 in the final Class 3A poll for 152 pounds.


“It’s going to be a tough match for Gabe,” White said. “The way we’re looking at it stylistically as far as their match up we should be OK. Some of the things that Whitaker does will fit into Gabe’s style. We’re looking good going into this match.”

Barrett opened with a 5:12 pin over Conor Popp of Lakeville North. The senior then topped Owen Barthel of St. Michael-Albertville 7-4 in the quarterfinals.

“What we were really excited about with Dalton is that he really had to battle,” White said. “He was losing going into that third period. He was struggling on his feet just trying to find something. He came up with a nice takedown at the edge of the mat and ended up pinning the kid. It was a nice finish to it and we were really happy with that first match.

“The typical Dalton style of taking kids down and pinning them is hard to do down here so he’s had to battle and wrestle the full six minutes and he’s been able to figure that out.”

Barrett will wrestle top-seeded and No. 1 ranked Will Sather of Eden Prairie in Saturday’s Championship Semifinal.

“His style compared to this No. 1 seed, I think, Dalton has a good shot of putting himself into the finals,” White said.

Two athletes wrestle on the mat
Brainerd's Dalton Barrett (blue) rides Lakeville North's Conor Popp to the mat during the 285-pound opening-round match Friday, March 4, 2022, in the Class 3A State Individual Wrestling Tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro

Brainerd’s Easton Dircks and Little Falls’ Austin Litke were first-round winners, but both dropped into wrestlebacks after falling in the Championship Quarterfinals to the top-seeded wrestler in their brackets.

Dircks opened with a 12-3 major decision over Northfield’s Keith Hamer before falling 9-2 to St. Michael-Albertville’s Mason Mills.


Brainerd’s eighth-grader then eliminated Prior Lake’s Ben Brenan 8-3 in the wrestlebacks to advance to Saturday’s Consolation Quarterfinals. There he’ll face eighth-ranked Thomas Holmquist of St. Thomas Academy.

“He looks good,” White said. “That last match he looked good in all positions. He was back and ready to go.

“It was huge to come back and get that win. We’ve seen it many times in the past where you’ve had a disappointing loss and then you come back and turn around and have to refocus to stay in the tournament. For a lot of people, it’s tough. For Easton being an eighth-grader and having the mental toughness to come back like that says a lot about who he is.”

Litke pinned Waconia’s Aiden Meuwissen in 29 seconds before falling 27-12 to Lakeville North’s Jore Volk.

Litke then eliminated Peter Hollingshead of Osseo with a 2:30 pin to advance to Saturday’s Consolation Quarterfinals.

Brainerd’s Damien Bentho suffered the gut-wrenching opening loss and then saw that opponent lose to get knocked out of the tournament. Bentho fell to Owatonna’s Jacob Reinardy 7-3. Reinardy then lost 7-0 to Wayzata’s Adam Cheme to eliminate Bentho.

The junior 170-pounder finishes the season with a 24-15 record.

“Damien did a good job and he wrestled tough,” White said. “It was tied going into the third period. He gave himself a chance, but there are tough wrestlers down here and everyone is good. I’m proud of how hard he worked. He gave himself a shot.”


Day One results

113: Opening round: Easton Dircks (Brd) Maj. Dec. Keith Harner (Northfield) 12-3; Championship Quarterfinals: Mason Mills (St. Michael-Albertville) dec. Dircks 9-2; Wrestlebacks: Dircks dec. Ben Brennan (Prior Lake) 8-3; Consolation Quarterfinals: Dircks vs. Thomas Holmquist (St. Thomas Academy)

132: Opening round: Austin Litke (LF) pinned Aiden Meuwissen (Waconia) 0:29; Championship Quarterfinals: Jore Volk (Lakeville North) tech. Fall Litke 27-12; Wrestlebacks: Litke pinned Peter Hollingshead (Osseo) 2:30; Consolation Quarterfinals: Litke vs. Cael Robb (Owatonna)

152: Opening round: Gabe Wagner (Brd) dec. Dylan Olson (Farmington) 7-3; Championship Quarterfinals: Wagner dec. Josh Wagener (Waconia) 7-2; Championship Semifinals: Wagner vs. Jacob Whitaker (Anoka)

170: Opening round: Jacob Reinardy (Owatonna) dec. Damien Bentho (Brd) 7-3; Bentho finishes season 24-15

285: Opening round: Dalton Barrett (Brd) pinned Conor Popp (Lakeville North) 5:12; Championship Quarterfinals: Barrett dec. Owen Barthel (St. Michael-Albertville) 7-4; Championship Semifinal: Barrett vs. Will Sather (Eden Prairie)Next: Class 3A State Wrestling Tournament at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, 9 a.m. Saturday, March 5.

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

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