ST. PAUL - Wrestling at the state tournament can take you from the highest of highs one minute to the lowest of lows the next.
No one knows that better than Fairmont/Martin County West senior Trevor Schultz.
The first day of action at the Class AA individual state wrestling tournament began with Schultz and his three Red Bulls teammates winning their first-round matches. But after the quarterfinals, only Schultz was left in the championship bracket, where he will compete in the semifinals today.
UNDER CONTROL — Fairmont/Martin County West wrestler Trevor Schultz (right) maintains control of Cannon Falls opponent Paul Fitterer during Class AA 106-pound individual state quarterfinal action on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Schultz went on to post a 6-1 decision to reach today’s semifinals. Photo Courtesy of Steve Muscatello/New Ulm Journal
TURNING POINT — Blue Earth Area’s Kysten Zierke (top) attempts to turn Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther’s Jake Denn during Class A 195-pound individual state preliminary action on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Zierke went on to post an 8-6 decision over Denn. Photo Courtesy of Steve Muscatello/New Ulm Journal
In the Class A tournament, three area wrestlers also advanced to today's championship semifinals - Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther's Adam Cooling and Blue Earth Area teammates Carter Hanson and Kysten Zierke.
Schultz has come close to winning a state title before, finishing second his sophomore season. He lost in a tough quarterfinal match at last year's tournament, so this year he was determined to avoid similar disappointments, tearing through his first-round match before beating a ranked opponent in his quarterfinal.
"The whole year I've been planning on doing this," Schultz said. "Ever since I lost the championship match my sophomore year, I've been wanting to get back there. This is exactly how I wanted it to go."
The No. 1-ranked Schultz was matched up with No. 3-ranked Paul Fitterer of Cannon Falls in the quarterfinals at 106 pounds. After taking an early lead with a takedown and a three-point near fall in the first period, Schultz never looked back to earn a 6-1 decision.
"I knew it was going to be a nice tough one, but it was just a nice, good tuneup for the rest of the tournament," Schultz said. "I knew if I got past him I would be going far in this tournament, and I plan to get (to the championship match), so that was a good obstacle I had to get over."
Fellow Red Bulls Joe Weber, Kory Brown and Colton Hines weren't able to duplicate Schultz's success, falling into the consolation bracket after losses in their quarterfinals. Brown (195 pounds) was pinned by No. 5-ranked Tyler Jakes of Mankato West in 4:40, Hines (285) lost an agonizingly close match against South St. Paul's Preston Woods 3-2 in four overtimes and Weber (152) lost a 7-1 decision against Tri-City/Cleveland's Josh Selly.
"Conditioning is a big thing. I wish I would have done a little better conditioning so far," Weber said. "It's a big tournament, big lights, big show, nerves are a big part of it. Wrestling at the FargoDome was nice, because we got to get in a big dome like this, it kind of got us prepared for this."
In Class A, Cooling continued his march to winning a second straight state title, though he had to fight through two tough matches on Friday.
Cooling faced Royalton/Upsala's Mitch Lange in the quarterfinals at 160. Lange entered the match with a 38-1 record, with his only loss on the season coming against Cooling.
Cooling held only a 1-0 lead after two periods, with an escape by Lange early in the third period tying the match at 1-1. However, Cooling was able to produce a takedown that proved to be the difference, with the match ending in a 3-2 decision.
"I had some nerves going for me, I knew from last time I wrestled him it was going to be a close match," Cooling said. "I knew I just had to get that one takedown and that would seal the match for me, and luckily I picked that up in the third."
Fellow M/T/ML senior Bryon Forstner also competed in the quarterfinals, but he was defeated by No. 1-ranked Eliot Jurries of Jackson County Central via a pin in 5:39.
Hanson earned his second narrow victory of the day with a 5-3 decision in his quarterfinal against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City's Matthew Whitcomb at 160.
Zierke had a similar day to Hanson, narrowly winning in the first round and then winning by a 5-3 decision in the quarterfinals, defeating Holdingford's Mitch Mesmaan.
The day started off well for area wrestlers, with all four participants from Fairmont/Martin County West winning their first-round matches.
Schultz didn't mess around in his match at 106 pounds, earning a technical fall against Annandale/Maple Lake's Nate Carlson by a 20-4 score.
Weber was evenly matched with opponent Mark Sontag at 152, needing three overtimes to pull out a narrow 3-2 decision to advance to the quarterfinals.
"Just a little better conditioning I think, I got that one move at the end there to win it," Weber said of what provided the diference in his match. "It's about two tough kids butting heads."
Brown pulled off an upset for F/MCW in his match at 195, pinning North Branch senior Zack Sundly in 4:20 to advance to his match against Jakes. Hines was tested against Monticello's Brent Riddle at 285 pounds, but ended up with an 8-4 decision.
Blue Earth Area and Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther each had two wrestlers advance in the first round.
Hanson won in dramatic fashion in his match at 160 pounds, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to earn a 5-4 decision against Badger/Greenbush-Middle River's Tomm Ingle.
Hanson erased a 4-3 deficit in the third period with a takedown, then held on for the final 50 seconds of the match to earn the victory.
"Our conditioning for our team, we like to think above everyone else," Hanson said. "That just proves it right there. If you can outlast a guy like that, and just keep grinding, keep digging and get those tough points. I had to ride him out the last 50 seconds for the win, and just stayed low and kept on it."
Hanson had never advanced past the first round in three previous state tournament appearances.
"This is the first year I've won my first match," Hanson said. "Since my freshman year I've lost my first match every year, so it's nice to get that first win, so I'm excited."
Forstner manufactured the same kind of drama as Hanson in his first round match, taking his match against Aitkin's Noah Landrus to the wire before eking out a 4-3 decision.
Forstner trailed 3-2 late in the match before Landrus took a brief medical timeout. With about 30 seconds remaining, Forstner was able to manufacture a take down to take the lead and then rode out the remainder of the match for the dramatic victory.
"I should have wrestled better, but a win's a win," Forstner said. "I was scared at first not to win my match, but then my brother told me to keep going at it, then I picked up the victory, because he motivated me."
Forstner's brother, Andy, is a former state champion and is currently an assistant coach for the Jayhawks.
"He's a state champion, and kind of motivates me, from being the little brother and coming into the state and hopefully placing this year," Bryon Forstner said.
Cooling was forced to work for a victory in his opening match against BOLD's Alex Hatch. Cooling held only a 3-0 lead until a last-second takedown in the second period gave him some breathing room. He ended up winning the match with a 7-0 decision.
Zierke was matched up against M/T/ML sophomore Jake Denn in the first round at 195, where he eked out an 8-6 decision.
Denn took a 3-2 lead into the third period, but Zierke took control with a reversal early in the third period and then added two takedowns, with Denn only able to earn three escapes in the period.
BEA's Gus Phillips suffered a first-round loss against Holdingford's Jordan Gombos by a 15-5 decision. Phillips was eliminated when Gombos lost a 7-2 quarterfinal to Maverick Whitcomb of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
Weber and Brown both won their opening consolation matches late Friday night. Hines lost to Delano's Kevin Kneisl via fall, ending his tournament campaign.
Forstner and Denn also competed in consolation matches late on Friday, with each being eliminated via losses. Forstner lost a 12-2 decision to Cody Ball of St. Charles, while Denn fell to Holdingford's Mitch Mesmaan, 6-3.
As state tournament veterans, Cooling and Schultz know what it will take to add to their Friday success to accomplish their goals of winning it all on Saturday.
"Just go out there and don't hold anything back," Cooling said. "I did that today and the matches were a lot closer than I wanted them to be. Now it kind of makes me realize I'm going to have to just go out there and give it all I've got, and hopefully it turns out the best for me."
Schultz has some technical things he plans to improve on, but otherwise he's ready to go out and work for a state title that he's waited a very long time for.
"There were a couple scrambles in that last match that I almost gave up points on, but I didn't," Schultz said. "I need to get out of those scramble positions and get more cleaner set ups, shots and finishes."