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State Wrestling: Broze bulldozes way into semifinals

Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze (right) squares off with Perham's Cody Nylander during their Class 2A 220-pound state wrestling quarterfinals match at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Broze advanced in a 6-4 decision.1 / 4
Cannon Falls/Randolph's Paul Fitterer (top) tries to roll over Grand Rapids' Cole Jones during their 106-pound first-round match. Fitterer advanced with a 4-0 decision.2 / 4
Cannon Falls/Randolph's Connor Rohr (top) tries to escape from Waconia's Jacob Steinbauer during their 132-pound first-round match Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.3 / 4
Cannon Falls/Randolph's Justin Miest (front) gets set in the down position as Foley's Mitch Struffert during their Class 2A 195-pound first-round match Friday4 / 4

ST. PAUL - Throughout the season, the headlock takedown has become the signature move for Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze.

It was the move that helped the Bombers junior to a 44-1 record and a No. 2 ranking heading into the Class 2A state wrestling tournament. It was also the move that helped Broze upset nationally ranked Broc Berge of Kasson-Mantorville back in December.

"He knows when to use it," said Cannon Falls/Randolph head coach Dudley Flodeen. "He's got lots of other things to use, and that move has worked for him."

And at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday, the headlock takedown was the move that pushed Broze into the 220-pound championship semifinals.

Tied 0-0 after the first period against No. 4-ranked Cody Nylander of Perham, Broze was looking to get some points from the down position midway through the second period. That's when he got a hold of Nylander's head and flipped the Yellowjackets' senior on his back.

Nearly scoring the pinfall before a blood timeout was called, Broze settled for six points with the 2-point takedown and a 4-point near-fall.

"I usually wait until later in the match to throw it," Broze said, "but it worked out then. I talked to the coaches and they said if it's there, hit it."

The maneuver provided the cushion Broze needed as Nylander tried to get back on the attack. Keeping his distance, Broze held a 6-1 lead heading into the third period.

"He did a good job of controlling the tempo of that match with his defense," Flodeen said. "He knows that he needs to wrestle his match.

"At this level, you don't want to force anything. We have a plan for him in every match and he does a good job of following that plan."

Nylander was able to pick up an escape and a takedown in the third period, but he could not overcome the 6-point gap as Broze left the 220-pound quarterfinal match with a 6-4 decision.

Earlier Friday, Broze opened the state tournament in dominating fashion with a 17-5 major decision over Luverne's DJ Reker.

But if Broze wants to be the man, he first has to beat THE man at 220-pounds. In the championship semifinals on Saturday, Broze will face defending state champion, Joe Schiller of Totino-Grace. Schiller is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A with a 34-3 record.

Broze will be the lone Bombers wrestler in the championship semifinals. Going 2-3 as a team in the first round, Cannon Falls/Randolph's other hope came from 106-pounder Paul Fitterer, who faced one of the toughest challenges in his bracket: Fairmont/Martin County West's Trevor Schultz.

Schultz, who is the top-ranked wrestler in Class 2A, pounced on the No. 3-ranked Fitterer, scoring a takedown and a 3-point near-fall midway through the first period. After one period, Schultz held a 5-0 lead.

"Up here, you can't give up a near-fall," Flodeen said. "That's a big deal to fight back from, and he had a hard hole to climb out of."

Fitterer was able to get an escape in the second period, but that was all the points he could muster in a 6-1 loss by decision.

Flodeen said Fitterer wrestled a fine match, but the 5-point lead was just insurmountable.

"You take those five points away, that's a 1-to-2 point match," Flodeen said.

Going in the wrestle backs, Fitterer responded with a 15-0 technical fall over Annandale/Maple Lake's Nate Carlson.

Ryan Epps (113 pounds), Connor Rohr (132) and Justin Miest (195) each lost their first-round matches. Epps fell in an 11-4 decision to Fergus Falls' Abbot Aho, Rohr lost in a 7-2 decision to Waconia's Jacob Steinbauer, and Miest dropped a 4-2 decision to Foley's Mitch Struffert.

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.