The ups and downs of Day 1

ST. PAUL Twenty-three Marshall-area grapplers began Friday hoping to claim an individual title at the 2013 Minnesota state wrestling tournament. After roughly 12 hours of competition at the Xcel Energy Center that number has been whittled down to 11, while only six can place first in their respective weight divisions.

Eliminated over the course of Day 1 of the individual tournament were both Marshall/Lakeview representatives.

For the Tigers’ Riley Roth and Campbell Hofstetter, Friday marked the end of their competitive careers. Both seniors were eliminated from competition in the early rounds. Roth went 0-2 on the day, falling by decision on both accounts, while Hofstetter won his opening match of the day but was ousted from the quarterfinals by Christian DuLaney of Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Hofstetter’s final match as a Tiger was a defeat by fall at the hands of Greg Johnson from Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson.

“Both of those guys busted their rears all year,” Marshall head coach Justin Bouwman said. “They worked hard, they did everything they could to get here, but both of them came up just a little bit short today. It’s going to be hard to see them go, it’s hard to see them feel bad after they lose. I wish you could take some of that for them, but that’s how it goes and they’ll learn from it and become better people for it.

Hofstetter and Roth were leaders on and off the mat for the Tigers this season, including giving their younger teammates a look at the workings of the state tournament.

“A lot of times it’s shock and awe when you first walk in here, even if it’s just to watch,” Bouwman said. “It’s a big venue, there’s a lot going on, a lot of schedules, it’s a lot to take in if you haven’t at least had the opportunity to be here and take in that process. The experience is invaluable.”

Still in the running for gold in the Class AA tournament are Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley’s JD Struxness and Brandon Schmitt.

Schmitt scored a pair of pins in the 285-pound bracket to advance to the championship semifinals today, where he will face Sam Stoll from Kasson-Mantorville. Struxness, wrestling at 220, scored a decision and pin fall to go 2-0 on Friday, and wrestles Jacob Claybaugh from Waseca for a spot in the championship finals.

Of the four other United wrestlers, only Keith Abraham is still in competition today.

Garth Ochsendorf, wrestling at 160 pounds, lost his first bout of the season in the championship quarterfinals in a 7-3 decision to Becker’s Colton Vekved. Ochsendorf missed a majority of the season due to an injury sustained during the football season and followed his first loss of the year with a second during a contested 4-3 defeat by decision in the wrestle-backs, ending his already shortened season.

Class A was more kind to the area as seven of the 13 wrestlers battled through to Saturday’s medal rounds. Minneota and Wabasso/Red Rock Central had the lion’s share of qualifiers for the state meet from the area, and not surprisingly also have the majority of wrestlers still vying for a title.

From Wabasso/RRC, three grapplers still have a shot at gold. Spencer Jenniges (113), TJ Fulton (132) and Tanner Rohlik (145) ripped through their first two matches on Friday to guarantee themselves a medal.

Alex Schroepfer rebounded from a quarterfinals loss for a lightning-quick pin in the wrestle-backs to keep his state tournament alive as well.

“I thought we wrestled really well today and I’m very proud of our guys,” Bobcats co-head coach Brett Bartholomaus said. “I think Alex, it was more about nerves than anything else and hopefully he can shake that here in the next couple rounds and come home with some hardware.

“The other three guys, very impressive,” he added. “I think Jordan Schroepfer at 182 was a victim of nerves too, a sophomore in his first time here. But I don’t know if we could have wrestled much better.”

Minneota, meanwhile, will pin its hopes for another individual champion on sophomore lightweight Brock Buysse, who was 2-0 on Friday. Isaac Josephson and Landyn VanOverbeke were both victorious in their first bouts at the state meet, but were tripped up in the quarterfinals.

Josephson, one of the few seniors for the Vikings this season, was unable to bounce back during wrestle-backs, falling by pin. VanOverbeke, on the other hand, advances to the consolation quarterfinals today, as does Alec Engler.

Both Canby Lancers, Christian Full and John Deslauriers, were defeated in their opening bouts and denied a chance at wrestle-backs due to second-round defeats for their opponents.

Ben Loosbrock, the lone representative of Fulda/ Murray County Central, won his first wrestle-back match after dropping his first match of the day.

Kirby Winson of Quad County went 0-2 for the day.

For the 11 individuals still competing, the next step to greatness begins today at 10 a.m. in St. Paul.