Schroepfer, other No. 1s move onto semis
ST. PAUL – When Alex Schroepfer raised his arms in celebration after his quarterfinal victory on Friday night, the whole town of Wabasso raised its arms with him.
The senior heavyweight, who finished fifth at last year’s state tournament, pinned No. 2 Garrett Malstrom of Frazee in 2:15 after sliding into a reversal that put his opponent on his back.
“He’s quicker than most, he’s stronger than most – stronger than all of them, really,” said W/RRC co-head coach Gary Hindt. “He has confidence in what he’s doing and he’s athletic. There’s not too many at 285 that can move like that.”
A heavy favorite to win the heavyweight title, Schroepfer will face No. 3 Martin Grandados of Blue Earth Area in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
Schroepfer joins No. 2 Spencer Jenniges as Wabasso/Red Rock Central’s two semifinalists. Jenniges placed second last year at 113 pounds after losing to Border West’s Cameron Sykora, but Hindt doesn’t see a similar outcome should the two meet again in the finals.
“He’s stronger this year and more confident,” Hindt said of Jenniges. “I think last year, he was more or less ‘I’m in the finals now and everyone tells me I’m going to lose so I’m going to lose,’ that sort of thing.”
Schroepfer and Jenniges are two of six area wrestlers who are ranked in the top-3 in the state that are in the semifinals.
Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Area’s Louis Sanders (126 pounds) and Sibley East’s Nathan Rose (195), who are both ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes, reached the state semifinals without any snags.
Sanders, who was the 120-pound champion last year, beat second-ranked Blane Tschida (Kimball Area) in a 12-6 decision in the 126-pound quarterfinals.
“He looked tough today in that quarterfinal round,” said LC-WM Area coach Andre Harnitz of Sanders. “He knows Blane and wrestled a great match with really fast shots and went against Blane’s style.”
Rose, who is the two-time defending 195-pound champion, pinned his first opponent within the first minute of the match before defeating No. 3 Lucas Etcheson (Triton) in a 10-4 decision.
Other wrestlers ranked No. 3 or better in the area that advanced are Sibley East’s No. 3 Jason Meyer (132 pounds) and No. 2 Hunter Retzlaff (145). The Wolverines’ 138-pounder Austin Brockhoff, who was ranked No. 2, ended his season with a major-decision quarterfinal loss and an overtime loss in the consolation first round on Friday night.
KRUEGER ADVANCES, BAIER HITS TOUGH LUCK
In his one-and-only state tournament appearance, Tim Krueger of River Valley moved onto the semifinals at 182 pounds.
Following a 6-1 victory against Kal Handyside of Mahnomen/Waubon, Krueger let loose in pinning Staples-Motley’s Drew Peterson in 3:28.
“In his first match you could tell he was a little bit nervous, but he was much more relaxed in the second one,” said River Valley coach Todd Bertram. “He stayed offensive and that was the big key. You need to be able to score points and not be satisfied to win by one or two and he did a much better job being aggressive.
“That puts him in the medal round, so I think that will take a lot of pressure off. He can just relax now and wrestle.”
Krueger will face No. 1 Niko Anderson (Fillmore Central/Lanesboro) in the semifinals on Saturday morning. Even though the task of facing the No. 1 wrestler may seem daunting, Bertram shrugged off the notion of it seeming insurmountable.
“Once you get to the final six guys, anyone can beat anyone,” Bertram said. “He’s not going to be the favorite in those matches, but if he wrestles his best match, he can beat anyone in that bracket.”
River Valley sophomore Sam Baier got the short end of his first trip to state. After losing a close 5-4 decision in the first round to Adrian Area’s Tony Lynn, he was eliminated since Lynn injury-defaulted in the quarterfinals.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time we know how important it is to win that first match,” Bertram said. “You’ll see a lot of times that first time up here, kids will feel a little overwhelmed with the magnitude of the state wrestling tournament. I don’t know if that’s what happened to Sam, but we’re fortunate that he’s got two more years to come back up here.”
There’s no panic regarding Wabasso/Red Rock Central freshman Jared Welch, who qualified at 220 pounds despite competing most of the season at 195. Welch was pinned in 5:48 in his first match and was denied a spot in the consolation round, but the Bobcats’ coaches are not losing any sleep over it.
“At ninth grade, you want them to get up here, get their feet wet,” Hindt said. “If they win a match, that’d be wonderful. If they don’t let’s see if they can have fun and wrestle hard, and he did that – he gave it everything he had.”
The consolations matches will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the semifinals to follow at approximately 10:45 a.m. The placement matches will be at 4:30 p.m., while the championship matches are slated to start at 7 p.m.