Hastings Raiders senior wrestler Trey Rogers said he dreamed of becoming a state champion since he was a kid. That dream became a reality this past weekend when Rogers became the Minnesota's Class AAA, 195-pound state champion. The culmination of Rogers high school wrestling career came when the match was over, when he gave a lopsided grin and yell as his hand was raised. And then immediately rushed to embrace his head coach, Josh McLay. In the moment, it was hard to tell who was more excited, Rogers or McLay. But the result was hardly ever in doubt.
"McLay really pushed the idea that I was the man and that I just had to focus on one match at a time, so that was the goal," Rogers said. "I looked at every match as if that kid was trying to take the state title away from me, so I looked at everybody I wrestled as a challenge."
McLay said it was just as much relief as it was excitement at the end of the match.
"For me it was a pure joy and elation just for him, but it was relief as well," McLay said. "I knew Trey was the best kid in the state and I knew the only chance that kids have to wrestle with him is by slowing him down, or trying to. But, you know bad things could happen, and I've seen crazier things. So to have him just finish the right way and leave no doubt in anybody's mind who the state champion was, it was just a great moment."
Rogers went 4-0 in the state tournament on his way to a championship and was absolutely dominant in all four matches. He beat Treighton Thompson of Minneapolis South by fall in one minute, 46 seconds in the first round. In the quarterfinals he won by tech fall (23-8) over Nick Staska of Owatonna, and in the semifinals, he won by fall over Jared Stewart of Lakeville South in 3:42. Finally, in the championship match, Rogers beat Jacob Scherber of Buffalo by a 17-7 major decision.
As of Sunday night, Rogers said that his accomplishment had not quite sunk in yet. However, he did have some perspective as to what being a state champion meant to him.
"I have always seen a state championship as a sort of club that you have to earn your way into," he said. "With having McLay, Luke Vaith and Zach Rohr being around the Hastings program, they've always been a reminder to keep working and keep sacrificing."
Rogers also said having McLay in his corner made his championship even more special.
"It was exciting to have him in my corner for the last match, but it was also sad because it was the end of the road for us," he said. "Last night I was actually looking back on the past five years with him. It was really an emotional night for us last night, we finally achieved our goal that we both knew we could do. I had always dreamed of the moment I'd get to give him a big hug after winning a state title, so when it did happen, it was a really special moment that I'll cherish forever."
"It was a perfect season, it really was," McLay said. "The kid just does all the things right and he's extremely coachable. He's got a positive attitude, he's hard-working and he's coachable. It shows out there, he believes in his coaches and in himself and it showed this year, which is great."
Looking back, Rogers said he would not change much about his wrestling career at Hastings High School and has no regrets, except for maybe getting his teammates off his back.
"It's easy to look back and wish I would've gotten in a few more workouts, or worked a little harder, but overall I'm extremely satisfied with my career here in Hastings," he said. "Actually, I wish I would've gotten a few more pins earlier in my career, it kind of became a running joke that I can't pin kids. It would've been sweet to make it on our (record) board for pins. (I) fell one pin short."
Moving forward, Rogers has just a few months left of his senior year and then the summer before college. He is headed to wrestle at Division I Hofstra University in New York state next year. And do not tell him to take an extended time off.
"I'll probably take these next two weeks off to recover and let my body rest a little bit, then I'm sure by then I'll be itching to get back on the mat for the freestyle season," he said. "But also I'll be pushing to get stronger and put on some weight before I head out east."
"(Hofstra wants) me at 197, so I'll need to put on a solid amount of weight so I can really fill out the weight class," he said.
McLay, who was a standout wrestler at the University of Minnesota as well as at Hastings, predicts success for Rogers in college.
"I think the biggest thing that kids struggle with when they're going to the next level is to develop their offense and to have the cardio to wrestle for seven minutes, not just six (like high school)," he said. "He's already got those things, I think that's going to be a smooth transition for him and that's not always the case. I believe he's got everything it takes to be an all-american at the next level. Obviously there's room for growth, but he's got a lot of the intangibles that you need."