Cameron Sykora is a confident wrestler, and with plenty of reason. The senior from Border West is hoping to become Minnesota’s fifth five-time state wrestling champion, and positive thinking is part of the plan.
Sykora first qualified for state as an eighth-grader and has taken home a gold medal in every appearance. Even though he’s now a veteran, he said his attitude is exactly the same as it was five years ago.
“It’s really the same mindset,” he said. “I always believe I can beat anyone.”
He opened the 2015 state tournament Friday with a technical fall over St. Charles junior Alan Spaeth and defeated Osakis junior Brendan Coyer 10-0 in the quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. His opponent in Saturday’s semifinals will be Kyle Hennen of Minneota; the big name on the other side of the bracket is two-time state champion Austin Anderly, a senior from LeSueur-Henderson.
“I feel good, my conditioning’s good,” Sykora said. “It’s time to peak right now. It’s time to peak.”
The previous five-time champions were Matt Nagel of Frazee (1997-2001), Eric Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (1999-2003), Zach Sanders of Wabasha-Kellogg (2003-2007) and Destin McCauley of Apple Valley (2006-2008, 2010-11).
Current Apple Valley junior Mark Hall could become the state’s first six-time state champ; he already is a four-time champ and will shoot for No. 5 Saturday.
Sykora’s biggest victory this season came in the January Rumble on the Red tournament in Fargo, N.D., when he defeated four-time Montana state champion Gresh Jones, who will continue his career at the University of Minnesota.
But that’s not to say that Sykora’s confidence wasn’t already on a high level. Ever since his ninth-grader year, his Twitter username has been @cam5xtimer.
“It’s something to remind me of my goal every day,” said Sykora, who will wrestle at South Dakota State. “It provides a little motivation.”
GIVING IT ALL YOU’VE GOT … TEETH INCLUDED
St. Michael-Albertville junior Mitchell McKee’s mouth was bleeding after Friday’s semifinals in Class 3A at 126 pounds. McKee had just posted a convincing 13-1 victory over Lakeville North sophomore Wade Sullivan in a matchup of defending state champs.
But he was bleeding and he was a little upset. Not so much about the blood, however. McKee was hoping to break the school record for single-season pins, and he had Sullivan on his back for the final seconds of the match. He has 36 pins this season; the school record is 38, which he can tie with pins in Saturday’s two matches.
But what about the blood?
“Last summer I had two root canals and I just smashed them on that last takedown,” McKee said. “So that kind of hurt and they started bleeding. Other than that, I feel good after two matches. I guess it’s nice to get a full match there because I haven’t had a full match since The Clash (on Jan. 3).”
McKee is ranked No. 1 in his weight class and Sullivan is No. 2 But that doesn’t mean McKee is now looking past his opponents.
“Anybody can beat anybody at the state tournament,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1, No. 5, No. 10, it doesn’t matter. I still have to keep wrestling tough, no matter what.”
--Forest Lake senior James Pleski, top-ranked at 145 in 3A, might have had the toughest route to the semifinals. He beat second-ranked Taylor Venz of Farmington in the first round and third-ranked Brock Morgan in the quarterfinals. The win over Morgan came in four overtimes.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 396
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 7,745