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State Wrestling: Broze battles back to win state title

Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze gets his hand raised after winning the Class 2A 220-pound championship match in an 11-10 decision over Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley's JD Struxness Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.1 / 4
Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze (top) rolls Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley's JD Struxness over for a near-fall during their Class 2A 220-pound championship match on Saturday.2 / 4
Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze (bottom) fights off a pinning attempt by D-B/LQPV's JD Struxness during the second period.3 / 4
Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze (top) motions to the crowd after securing the Class 2A 220-pound championship in an 11-10 decision over D-B/LQPV's JD Struxness Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.4 / 4

ST. PAUL - As the clock hit zero in the Class 2A 220-pound championship match, Cannon Falls/Randolph's Clay Broze had to look at the scoreboard in confusion.

Trailing 8-6 to Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley's JD Struxness with 13 seconds left in the match, Broze flipped Struxness over with his signature headlock takedown, scoring a near-fall in the process. But before time ran out, Struxness was able to get a reversal. There was no celebrating; only a silent sense of chaos as the score was sorted out.

"I didn't know what happened," Broze said about the final seconds. "I thought I had it with the takedown, but I didn't know what would happen with the reversal."

When the dust settled, Broze walked off the mat a state champion in an 11-10 decision over Struxness, last year's state runner up at 220.

With the victory, the Bombers junior becomes the first state champion to leave the Xcel Energy Center for Cannon Falls/Randolph since Wade Gobin won the 152-pound title in 2008.

The state title capped off an incredible run for Broze, who went 50-1 overall and clinched a state berth for the first time. Broze said before the championship match that over the summer, it was a playful joke to say that he'd reach the state finals. Even at the tournament, his goal was just to win a match at state. All the while, Broze said his father called and texted, believing his son would be a champion.

Even as he walked off a victor in the title match, the accomplishment still didn't quite sink in for Broze, who was still stunned by the final seconds.

That relaxed attitude, according to Cannon Falls/Randolph head coach Dudley Flodeen, helped Broze break out.

"He's better when he's relaxed and flows well," Flodeen said. "That's where he needs to be."

Things looked dire for Broze in the second period when Struxness scored a 3-point near-fall to go up 6-0. Broze cut it to 6-1 with an escape with 29 seconds left in the period, but a headlock attempt failed late in the second as Struxness led 6-1 with two minutes to go.

Even then, Broze wasn't sweating the result.

"The whole weekend, I just wanted to keep wrestling," he said. "It doesn't help to get all worked up."

Broze hit his first headlock with 1:12 left and got a near-fall, but Struxness slipped out with a reversal for an 8-5 advantage.

Then with 13 seconds left, Broze went to his bread-and-butter one more time, setting up a 5-point swing that ultimately made him a state champion.

"I was so tired by that point," Broze said. "I tried to hit it one more time and it worked."

The ability to throw the headlock on put Broze on top of the medal stand. And before he could reach the championship match, Broze used his headlock with nine seconds left in the semifinals against defending state champion Joe Schiller of Totino-Grace. Down 5-3 in that match, Broze hit his patented maneuver for a takedown and a near-fall to win 8-5.

Flodeen said that last year as a sophomore, Broze showed promise but couldn't make it out of the section tournament. Now, Broze left the Xcel with a title and his potential fulfilled.

"Last year was his first pretty serious action, and we thought he had a chance. He learned something because of it," Flodeen said. "This last year, he got really serious about it and wrestled in the summer.

"Hard work, he proved tonight, pays dividends."