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Class 1A State Wrestling: BHVPP's Orlando captures state championship

Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie's third-ranked Craig Orlando successfully maneuvered his way through the heavyweight bracket to claim the 285-pound championship in the Class 1A individual state finals Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Raider sophomore capped off his second state tournament appearance with a 12-2 major decision over fifth-ranked Frazee senior Tanner Tappe in the title match, raising his season record to 42-3.

Orlando won his opening two matches Friday with pins and then decisioned No. 6 Trevor Oppedal of Frazee 4-0 in the semifinals to reach the title match.

BHVPP senior Holt Truax finished his high school career in the title match that pitted the top two ranked wrestlers in the state at 182 pounds.

Truax came into the tournament undefeated (40-0) and ranked second while his opponent in the championship match, top-ranked senior Caden Steffen (Zumbrota-Mazeppa) entered the tournament 41-3. Truax placed second when Steffen handed him his first loss of the season with a 3-1 decision for the title.

Like his teammate, Truax also pinned both of his opening-day opponents, and then recorded a 20-8 major decision over Pipestone's fourth-ranked Garrett Ploeger in the semis.

This was the fourth state tournament appearance for Truax (he placed fifth last year). He finishes his senior year 43-1 with a career record of 182-53 that includes 137 pins.

"Both boys came in seeded two and three and both had good opening rounds," said Raiders head coach Bill Wagner. "Then they both hiccupped in the quarters. Holt was down 7-0 and Orlando got put on his back, but both of them had the mindset to come back."

Both won their quarterfinal matches with pins.

"They're really good kids to work with and they've put a lot of time in the weight room," said Wagner. "All those extras paid off."

S-M's Bjerga sixth

Staples-Motley's Owen Bjerga's first four matches at 138 pounds were not for the faint of heart.

He won his first two matches Friday with 8-7 and 5-3 decisions. In his semifinal match Saturday, the seventh-seeded sophomore lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to No. 4 Kyle Cavanaugh who went on to win the state title.

In the consolation semifinals, fifth-ranked Willie VonRuden (Medford) edged Bjerga 6-5. That set up Bjerga for an encounter in the fifth-place match against third-ranked Alex Borsgard (Windom/Mountain Lake) which went to Borsgard in a 16-7 major decision. Bjerga finishes 40-10.

In Saturday's consolation quarterfinals, C-I junior Nate Williams and Aitkin freshman Tyler Spolarich saw their seasons end.

Williams lost a 7-3 decision at 126 and finishes 42-13. He lost his opening-round mach Friday in a 17-6 major decision to Pipestone's top-seeded Michael Suda who went on to win his third state title.

Tenth-ranked Spolarich closed out his season 35-17 with a 5-2 loss at 145 to unranked Jack Ridgeway (Trinity School at River Edge) and finishes 35-17.

Class 1A Finals

126: Consolation quarterfinals: No. 8 Mason Gode (LPGE-Browerville) dec. No. 7 Nate Williams (C-I) 7-3. Williams finishes 42-13.

138: Semifinals: No. 4 Kyle Cavanaugh (Caledonia/Houston) dec. No. 7 Owen Bjerga (Staples-Motley) 4-3. Consolation semifinals: No. 5 Willie VonRuden (Medford) dec. Bjerga 6-5. Fifth-place match: No. 3 Alex Borsgard ((Windom/Mountain Lake) maj. dec. Berga 16-7. Berga finishes 40-10.

145: Consolation quarterfinals: Jack Ridgeway (Trinity School at River Edge) dec. No. 10 Tyler Spolarich (Aitkin) 5-2. Spolarich finishes 35-17.

182: Semifinals: No. 2 Holt Truax (BHVPP) maj. dec. No. 4 Garrett Ploeger (Pipestone) 20-8. Championship match: No. 1 Caden Steffen (Zumbrota-Mazeppa) dec. Truax 3-1. Truax finishes 43-1.

285: Semifinals: No. 3 Craig Orlando (BHVPP) dec. No. 6 Trevor Oppedal (Blue Earth) 4-0. Championship match: Orlando maj. dec. No. 5 Tanner Tappe (Frazee) 12-2. Orlando finishes 42-3.