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Wrestling: Raiders had six athletes place at meet

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Six members of the Hastings wrestling team earned All State honors at last weekend's Minnesota State High School League state wrestling tournament.

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In all, eight wrestlers from Hastings qualified. There was one state champion from Hastings, one state runner-up, two third-place finishers and two fourth-place finishers.

The strong showing at state capped another great season in Hastings wrestling.

"We're just proud of how the kids wrestled, and proud of the great support we had up there," HHS coach Paul Vaith said. "The number of people who have been following us, and staying in touch, has just been wonderful."

Here are summaries on the placewinners at the state meet:

103

Freshman Eric Bauer placed third, and he took the long way to the third-place match.

In the opening round, Bauer lost to the eventual state champ, Mitch Bengston of St. Cloud Apollo, 6-4 in overtime. He won three straight matches to qualify for the third-place match.

He pinned Jesse Loges of Minneapolis South to earn third.

"I saw him get more comfortable as the tournament went on," Vaith said. "He was getting after people. The biggest thing for him was that he started to relax and open up and just wrestle."

Bauer finished the season with a 37-8 record.

112

At 112 pounds, Jeff Engstrom placed third. He is a sophomore at HHS.

Just making the state tournament was quite a story for Engstrom. He was seeded fourth going into the conference tournament, and won the title. He was the fifth seed at sections and came through the wrestlebacks to earn a true second and a berth in the state meet.

Engstrom started the tournament with a pin over Bill Strunz of White Bear Lake.

But in the second round, Engstrom ran into trouble and lost to the state's No. 2-ranked wrestler, Sam Stewart of Andover, 15-2.

Engstrom then won three straight matches to get into the third-place match.

In the third-place match, he faced a familiar opponent: Stewart, who just two days earlier had beaten him 15-2. This time, the outcome was much different. Engstrom led 16-2 and ended up winning by fall.

"It was an incredible story about what you can do with confidence," Vaith said. "You could just see his confidence grow. With that confidence came some big wins in some big situations."

Engstrom had five wins at the state tournament, including four by fall.

He finished the season with a 28-18 record.

125

Sophomore Colton LaChance lost his first round match, and then lost in the wrestlebacks.

In the first round, he fell to Tony Skjefte of Eden Prairie in a close match, 7-6. In the wrestlebacks, LaChance lost to David Baker of Buffalo.

"Talk about a kid who has come along," Vaith said. "Colton was our backup 103-pounder at the end of the year last year. Just through some great offseason training and dedication, he worked himself not only into the starting lineup, but all the way into the state tournament."

He finished the season with a 26-18 record.

135

Sophomore Zach Rohr placed fourth this year. He won his first two matches, and then lost to the eventual state champion, Robby Fisher.

Rohr won over Temondre Hudson of St. Paul Harding, 11-6, and then lost in the third-place match to Brandon Haluptzok of Centennial, 94.

It was the third time Rohr has placed at the state meet. He was sixth as an eighth-grader, fifth at 112 as a freshman and fourth this year.

Going from 112 to 135 was quite a jump in weight classes, something Rohr apparently handled pretty well.

"He worked hard in the offseason in the wrestling room," Vaith said. "It takes a lot of offseason work to go from 112 to 135."

Rohr earned all-state honors again, the third time he has earned that distinction.

He finished the season with a 36-11 record.

145

Tyler Rohr, a junior, placed fourth.

He won his first two matches, and then lost to Danny Zilverberg, Wayzata. He won two more matches, and then lost in the third-place match to Jarret Hoeppner of Apple Valley.

It was Rohr's third trip to the state meet.

In his second match, he was leading 6-0 when his opponent got him in a headlock.

"He fought that off," Vaith said. "That kid had it tight, and it was all heart on his part. Tyler was fighting with everything he had to get through that match."

He finished the season with a 36-11 record.

152

Nate Williams lost his first round match to Ben Cox of Minnetonka. Cox then lost his second-round match, ending Williams' season.

"The story for Nate was getting back to the big show," Vaith said. "He made it there last year. Then, this year, in the section tournament, after getting upset in the first round, he came all the way back through and won true second to get to the state tournament."

Since he was a second-place section finisher, Williams had to wrestle another section's champion. Turns out, the wrestler he had to face was one who had beaten him earlier in the year.

"It was just a tough draw," Vaith said.

Williams finished the season with a 32-10 record.

160

HHS senior Brendan Eichmann placed second at 160 pounds.

It was the fourth time Eichmann qualified for the state tournament. He was second last year and fourth his sophomore year.

"He's just a great kid who has worked so hard," Vaith said. "Both he and Luke were captains this year. They did a great job leading the troops. He's a very dedicated young man. He's a very tough competitor, and is just a great kid from a great family."

Eichmann won 5-0 over Eric Muldoon of Prior Lake to start the tournament. He then beat Jordan Gnerer of Owatonna, 1-0.

In the semifinals, Eichmann beat Josh McLain of Anoka, 10-4.

In the championship round, Eichmann faced Zak Coates from Henry Sibley and lost, 6-4.

Coates was no stranger to Eichmann. The two faced one another in the section finals, where Coates won.

Eichmann finished the season with a 44-3 record, setting a new school record for the most wins in a season.

He finishes his HHS career with the third-most wins in school history. He had a record of 179-48.

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
(651) 319-4500
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