When the gold medals had been placed around necks and cameras snapped from the stands at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night, some memories were made that will last a long, long time.
There were tears, as is always the case when dreams of state titles are not realized. But in at least two cases Saturday, tears flowed from the eyes of champions who have little in common other than they are wrestlers.
One of them was very familiar. Ben Morgan (right) of Forest Lake, who won a 3A title as an eighth-grader before placing third three times, went out in style as a senior with his second title, winning at 132 pounds. As an eighth-grade state champ four years ago, Morgan put on an exuberant celebration. This time, however, his emotions took over and he did little more than weep. It was a celebration, nonetheless.
Albert Lea senior 285-pounder Bryce DeBoer also cried after winning a 3A title. His story, however, is much different because he is far from a veteran wrestler, much less a veteran of the state tournament. DeBoer (pictured below) is a first-year high school wrestler, and he showed what can be accomplished.
The day’s biggest surprise came in 3A at 126 pounds, where St. Cloud Apollo junior Mitch Bengston, a three-time champ, saw his state-record winning streak ended at 179 matches. Sam Brancale of Eden Prairie won his second title by getting a reversal in the final seconds and winning 2-1.
Simley had seven individuals in the 2A championship round and came away with five winners, while Apple Valley had five in the 3A finals and crowned four state champions. Apple Valley’s Brandon Kingsley (160) won his fourth title.
Gaining gold for the third time were Medford’s Curt Maas (1A 152), Joey Munos of South St. Paul (2A 132) and Jake Short of Simley (2A 145).
Among wrestlers winning their second state championships were two seniors from 1A Kenyon-Wanamingo, Mitchel Lexvold at 120 and Oakley McLain at 126.
Apple Valley eighth-grader Mark Hall won his second title at 3A 145, keeping him on track to possibly become the state’s first six-time state champion.
The boys state swimming champions also were decided Saturday, and John’s Journal correspondent Luke Sleeper has posted stories from Class 1A and 2A here on our website.
And in other news, the pairings for next week’s boys state hockey tournament were finalized Saturday.
Here’s how the Class 2A hockey tourney looks…
#2 seed Maple Grove (24-2-2) vs. Hill-Murray (22-6), Thursday, 11 a.m.
#3 seed Eagan (24-3-1) vs. Moorhead (21-6), Thursday, 1 p.m.
#1 seed Duluth East (27-1) vs. Lakeville South (20-8), Thursday, 6 p.m.
#4 seed Edina (23-5) vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (22-6), Thursday, 8 p.m.
And here is the Class 1A field…
#2 seed St. Thomas Academy (23-4) vs. Little Falls (19-9), Wednesday, 11 a.m.
#3 seed Breck (24-3-1) vs. Duluth Marshall (21-7), Wednesday, 1 p.m.
#1 seed Hermantown (28-0) vs. Rochester Lourdes (20-8), Wednesday, 6 p.m.
#4 seed Thief River Falls (22-4-2) vs. New Ulm (17-11), Wednesday, 8 p.m.
With that, we’re going to take part of a day off and began ramping up for another great state tournament week.
--See a photo gallery from the wrestling championship matches on the MSHSL Facebook page.
--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 15 for the tournament, 30 for the winter tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
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--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at @MSHSLjohn