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Vaith is state wrestling champion

Hastings senior Luke Vaith became the eighth wrestler in school history to win a state wrestling title. And it took an upset win over the nation's third-ranked wrestler to do it.

Vaith, whose father, Paul, is the Hastings head coach, has been wrestling since preschool. His aim all those years was a state title, and on Saturday afternoon in St. Paul, he hit the mark.

He secured the title with a 5-0 win in the finals, capping a 42-4 season. The win in the championship match was his 198th career victory, a new Hastings record.

"What was neat was that I've seen the sacrifices he's made," Paul Vaith said. "It's been something that he pushed himself to do. This is something he's dreamt about and worked hard at."

Paul Vaith said two days a week his son would be on the road to River Falls at 5:30 a.m. for a wrestling school. There were practices before school, after school, training sessions all hours of the day and a year-round commitment to get better.

"He just trained so hard, knowing it would improve his chances," Vaith said.

His tournament

Luke Vaith started the tournament with a technical fall win over Tom Longendyke of White Bear Lake.

The big match was his second match.

Vaith faced Dylan Ness of Bloomington Jefferson/Kennedy. Ness was ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the country at 140 pounds. Twice this season, Ness and Vaith have faced one another, and twice this year, Ness had won.

The first time they faced one another was at the Christmas Tournament, where Ness won 11-4. At a dual-meet tournament in late January, Ness won 6-4.

But this time, things were different.

In the first period, Vaith recorded two takedowns and led 4-1 heading into the second period.

Ness recorded an escape in the second period, but Vaith scored another takedown to take a 6-2 lead. Another Ness escape put the score at 6-3 going into the final period.

In the third period, with both wrestlers on their feet, Ness scored a takedown to make the score 6-5. Vaith got an escape and held on for the win. The final point scored by Ness was on a penalty for a leg scissors.

"Luke put together a plan of attack, and stayed with it throughout the match," Paul Vaith said. "He was very focused."

After the big win over Ness, though, the state tournament was far from over for Vaith. He still had to win two more matches.

He faced Mac Rivard of Saint Francis in the semifinals, 15-5, before defeating Joe Fessler of Apple Valley in the finals, 5-0.

"You train hard and hope for the opportunities, but there's no guarantees," Paul Vaith said. "Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn't. In this case, it worked out. I'm just happy to see all that work pay off."