State Wrestling: Broze locks up second title
ST. PAUL – Clay Broze and the headlock are as inseparable as the opponents and the part of the mat that their shoulders inevitably end up being pressed to.
But it wasn’t always that way, even as the move led to two individual state wrestling titles.
“Last year, everyone was saying, ‘He throws the headlocks, that all he throws,’” Broze said. “I didn’t really like (that people said that). But I’ve grown into it. Now I just have to use it and live with it. And I love it.”
Saturday’s path to the 220-pound championship was not an easy one for Broze as the headlock wasn’t coming as easy as it usually does. With two opponents both shorter and stockier than Broze, getting low enough to complete the throw that typically ends with a pin was a tough thing for Broze to complete.
Against Jack Ryan in the semifinals, Broze needed overtime to move on to the finals. Of course, in typical fashion, Broze was able to sink in the headlock and get Ryan to his back. That would have been good enough for the win, but Broze highlighted the victory with a fall.
In the finals, Christian DuLaney, ranked second in the state behind Broze, took advantage of his size. Working underneath Broze, DuLaney was able to score two first-period takedowns, securing a 4-1 lead after two minutes.
In the second period, DuLaney was able to escape Broze, while the rest of the action was mainly kept to the upright position, leaving Broze a 5-1 hole to dig out of in the third.
The climb started with an escape, and ended with Broze and DuLaney locking up near the edge of the circle. And as soon as Broze turned and popped DuLaney over his hips, the roar of the crowd drowned out the thud of the Benilde-St. Margaret’s wrestler hitting the mat.
Moments later, the referee slapped the mat, and Broze celebrated.
“I told myself before the match that if he keeps taking me down, if I’m losing, don’t let it get (in) my head,’ Broze said. “You can easily lose composure when you’re down. I told myself just to have fun. I knew I might have to throw a headlock. I was really looking at it. He’s a touch wrestler. I wrestled him earlier this year, and he wrestled way different. He was a completely different wrestler that time. I think he got tired and I took advantage of it.”
As Broze came to terms with his “one move,” he also had to figure out how to wrestle as the constant favorite.
“Last year, I had a lot of fun,” Broze said. “This year, there was a lot more pressure and expectations. Some of it’s good, and some of it’s bad. You’re expected to win, but title No. 2 is a first for Cannon Falls. I’m on top of the world.”
The Bombers had two other chances at state championships Saturday as Paul Fitterer (113) and Ryan Epps (120) both made appearances in title bouts.
Fitterer had a chance to come home with gold, but a takedown attempt as time ran out resulted in zero points after the two referees engaged in a brief discussion. Jakob Stageberg of New London-Spicer came away with the championship by virtue of a 1-0 decision.
Epps, meanwhile, was beaten 13-6 by Section 1AA opponent Skyler Petry of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.
Cannon Falls qualified a Section 1AA high six wrestlers for the individual state tournament, five of which made the quarterfinals, and three of whom participated in the final matches of the season.
Unlike Broze, a senior, Fitterer, a junior, and Epps, a sophomore, will be back next year, seeking the one that got away.
Broze knows the feeling of being a champion. And he thinks the rest of the Bombers know what it takes.
“Our team spends a lot of time in the offseason, we’re always trying to wrestle when we can,” Broze said. “We’re always looking for camps, and a lot of people on our team are trying to better themselves. And that helps a lot.”