State Wrestling: Drehmel standing out in state debut
ST. PAUL - With three third-place finishes in the Section 1A tournament haunting Goodhue's Kyle Drehmel, Wildcats head coach Josh Grant had a pearl of wisdom for his 126-pound senior heading into the season.
"The No. 1 goal is state, and we knew that would not be easy, regardless of weight," Grant said. "I told him, 'If and when you go to state and you do the right things, you belong on the podium because it's that hard to get out of this section.'"
And after finally breaking through and reaching his first Class 1A state tournament, Drehmel is proving he belongs with the state's finest on the biggest stage.
Capped off by a 6-5 decision over Pierz' Chris Ortman in the quarterfinals, Drehmel is guaranteed a spot on the podium by reaching the 126-pound championship semifinals. In the first round, Drehmel advanced with an 11-6 decision over Jackson County Central's Cameron Henning.
"It's great to get in the semis and secure my spot for a medal," an overwhelmed Drehmel said after defeating the 7th-ranked Ortman. "I wanted to do well, and now that my spot is taken care of, now it's all a matter of how high I can get."
Drehmel held a 4-1 lead late in the first period when Ortman picked up a reversal in the waning seconds of the period. As Drehmel led 6-4 through two periods, Ortman got an escape with 45 seconds remaining in the match to make it 6-5.
With his opponent's ability to score late and a warning for stalling already against him, Drehmel had to stay sharp for the last 45 seconds.
"I knew I had to be defensive but not totally defensive where I'd lose a point for stalling," Drehmel said. "I just had to be smart."
In the final seconds, Drehmel stayed aggressive yet defensive, and got himself into the semifinals.
"We've been building his confidence heading into sections, and he's a very smart, coachable kid," Grant said. "He's carrying a lot of match acumen and he's riding a lot of momentum. Each one of these wins is building his confidence."
While Drehmel advanced, the Wildcats missed out on another semifinalist as Ryan Tipcke fell in a 4-2 decision to No. 2-ranked Taylor Carlson of United North Central.
With 1:54 remaining in the match, Tipcke scored an escape to tie the match at 2-2. But with 29 seconds left, Carlson scored the deciding takedown.
Grant said that Tipcke didn't wrestle his best match in the quarterfinals, but it was a telling feat for Tipcke to go neck and neck with one of the top wrestlers in the state.
"That was his match for the taking," Grant said. "We liked him going into the quarterfinals, and in all perspective, he wrestled well. But we're not here for the coulda, shoulda, woulda; we're here to get him on the podium."
Two Goodhue wrestlers had first-round losses on Friday. At 113 pounds, Joel Gadient was pinned by Frazee's Byron Byer in 3:09, and at 160, the Wildcats' Jacob Blattner was also pinned by Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City's Matthew Whitcomb in 1:21.
Balow dominates at 182
In his third straight state tournament, Lake City junior Will Balow was a man on a mission Friday.
Looking to climb higher than his 5th-place finish at last year's state meet, Balow demolished the competition in his first two matches, taking a 6-1 decision in his first-round match against St. James' Devin Wolle, and winning 5-0 over Kimball's Travis Wills.
In the quarterfinals, Balow came in ranked eighth, while Wolle was sitting in seventh. None of that mattered as Balow powered through for the decisive victory.
"In that first match, I was a little over-aggressive, so in the next one, I wanted to be strong, physical and under control," Balow said. "A couple of times I could have maybe let him up, but I didn't want to leave any doubt and I let the match take care of itself."
At 145 pounds, Tigers teammate Shane Siewert advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 first-round decision over Frazee's Erik Moltzan. But facing top-ranked Larry Bomstad of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Siewert was knocked out of the championship bracket after getting pinned in 1:45.
Tough day for Z-M
With two top-10 wrestlers at the state meet, Zumbrota-Mazeppa's hopes for a title run were high for Joey Majerus (113 pounds) and Mitchell Watkins (138).
Unfortunately for the Cougars, neither wrestler will be up for title contention after Watkins fell in the first round and Majerus was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
In a top-10 battle at 138 pounds, Watkins faced 10th-ranked Nik Borchert of Mille Lacs and held a 1-0 lead through two periods. But Borchert scored an escape in the third, forcing the match into overtime. And then a second overtime.
In the third overtime period, Borchert scored his second escape and held off Watkins to advance to the quarterfinals.
On a quest for his first state title after two straight third-place finishes, Majerus opened the tournament strong with a 5-1 first-round decision over St. James' Cody Hanson.
Then in the quarterfinals, it was a top five matchup between No. 3 Majerus and No. 4-ranked Spencer Jenniges of Wabasso/Red Rock Central. Up 2-1 after the first period, Jenniges was the aggressor in the second with a near-fall to go up 5-1. Majerus was never able to get back on the board, losing in a 9-1 decision.
The state wrestling tournament resumes today, starting with the consolation quarterfinals at 10 a.m. The championship semifinals will get underway at approximately 11:15 a.m., and championship matches are slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.