ACGC's Anderson, Leither; Litchfield's Penk all earn gold
ST. PAUL -- With nearly all of the attention focused on his younger brother,, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City senior Matt Leither wasn't expected to make much noise at the state individual tournament. Comfortable with brother Nic grabbing most of the spotlight, Matt completed a "dream" season by winning the state title in the Class A 189-pound division Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Matt wasn't the only competitor from the area that won gold. His teammate, sophomore Jeremy Anderson, won the 103-pound title and Litchfield senior Beau Penk won the Class AA title at 135.
Five other area participants fell short in their championship matches, while three placed third. Overall, a record 22 area wrestlers earned medals.
Matt Leither fought his way to the final after notching pins in his first three matches. He nearly earned another fall Saturday, but Brian Ruegemer of Sauk Centre escaped the first period without both of his shoulders touching.
The near fall earned Leither three points and extended his lead going into the second period 5-0.
Leither deferred after the flip and chose to be on the bottom to start the second. He worked out of Ruegemer's hold and earned a point for escaping. With Ruegemer grunting in frustration, Leither scored three more points in the third period while keeping Ruegemer scoreless to post a dominating 9-0 major decision.
"I was worrying about getting out of sections," said Leither, who finished the season 37-6. "The coach from Concordia called me (Friday) and said he wouldn't be able to make it to my championship match. I just laughed at him, thinking I wouldn't make it that far."
For Penk, winning the state title was just another milestone the senior achieved this season. On Dec. 15, he became only the 20th wrestler in state history to earn over 200 career wins and just five days later he picked up his 100th career pin. Saturday was icing on the cake.
Penk fell behind 2-0 in the first period after STMA junior Joe Grygelko's takedown just over the halfway point of the period. Penk cut the deficit to 2-1 with an escape early in the third period. The referee blew his whistle for a couple of stalemates and time was running out for Penk, who had finished second last year at 130.
But Penk spun out of Grygelko's hold and scored two points for his reversal to take a 3-2 lead with only 18 seconds remaining, then held on and finished his career with 235 wins, second most in state history behind only Glencoe-Silver Lake's Nate Matousek (243).
"I was tired a little bit, but I worked through it and got it done," said Penk, who was 39-1 in his senior season. "I did it for my cousin, Kelby."
Kelby died this past summer after accidentally falling out of a truck.
Just like his teammate Matt Leither, Anderson didn't think he would be wrestling for a state title. But he worked hard in the offseason and entered the state tournament with a 37-1 record.
After falling behind 2-1 after the opening period against Nathan Lexvold of Kenyon-Wanamingo, Anderson scored back points for a 4-2 lead. Anderson then scored a third-period escape for the final 5-2 margin.
"(Getting to state) wasn't on my mind at the beginning of the season," said Anderson, who won all four of his tournament matches by decision. "I went out for cross country in the fall to get in shape and that helped."
Minnewaska senior Trevor Larson was in a double-overtime match for the second straight day, but was on the losing end in his Class AA 145-pound final against Chad Little of St. Michael-Albertville. With the match tied 1-1 after regulation, Larson nearly pinned Little in the first overtime, but time ran out. Larson, starting down, was unable to break Little's hold in the 30-second second period and lost 2-1.
BOLD/Buffalo Lake-Hector sophomore Pat LeVasseur got pinned with only 22 seconds remaining in his Class AA 112-pound championship match against unbeaten Cody Adams of Mankato East. Yellow Medicine East senior Matt Williams lost 7-0 to unbeaten Madelia-Truman senior Andy Forstner in the Class A 119-pound final. Other Class A finals saw last year's 145-pound champion senior Sean Glenz of Paynesville fall 7-2 to Warren Gall of Pierz and Nic Leither losing a 13-4 major decision to unbeaten Torrey Line of Browerville/Eagle Valley. Leither was 42-0 entering the match.
Class AA results
PAT LEVASSEUR, BOLD/BLH (35-7) -- was pinned by Cody Adams (43-0), Mankato East, 5:38 ... 2nd place
BEAU PENK, Litchfield (39-1) -- dec Joe Grygelko (41-4), St. Michael-Albertville, 3-2 ... 1st place
TREVOR LARSON, Minnewaska (38-1) -- lost 1-2 dec in 2OT's to Chad Little (41-5), St. Michael-Albertville ... 2nd place
CHAD HENLE, New London-Spicer (38-6) -- dec Ryan Timmerman, St. Peter, 6-5 ... dec Brandon Seppelt, Foley, 12-5 ... dec Luke Schlee, Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander, 9-4 ... in third-place match vs. Steve Keogh (39-7), Thief River Falls
JON TATRO, Minnewaska (34-3) -- dec Aaron Stolp (40-4), Big Lake, 2-01, 2 OT's ... 3rd place
BLAYNE JOHNSON, Litchfield (16-9) -- lost 0-3 dec to Mark Przekwas (30-3), Roseau ... 4th place
ALAN LUTTERMAN, Minnewaska (36-6) -- lost 5-9 dec to Jake Schoenecker (30-7), New Prague ... 4th place
COLIN CIHLAR, Minnewaska (33-12) -- lost 4-7 dec to Dustin Horner (35-4), Deer River ... 6th place
Class A results
JEREMY ANDERSON, ACGC (41-1) -- decNathan Lexvold (38-3), Kenyon-Wanamingo, 5-2 ... 1st place
MATT WILLIAMS, YME (37-3) -- lost 0-7 dec to Andy Forstner (40-0), Madelia-Truman ... 2nd place
SEAN GLENZ, Paynesville (43-2) -- lost 2-7 dec to Warren Gail (43-3), Pierz ... 2nd place
NIC LEITHER, ACGC (42-1) -- lost 4-13 dec to Torrey Line (45-0), Browerville/Eagle Valley ... 2nd place
MATT LEITHER, ACGC (37-6) -- dec Brian Ruegemer (31-8), Sauk Centre, 9-0 ... 1st place
BEN MEYER, ACGC (42-2) -- lost 5-7 dec to Luke Amsden (44-2), River Valley ... 4th place
CAMERON JURGENSON, Dawson-Boyd (31-5) -- lost 1-6 dec to Kevin Steinhaus (37-5), Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg ... 4th place
KEVIN STEINHAUS, KMS (37-5) -- dec Cameron Jurgenson (31-5), Dawson-Boyd, 6-1 ... 3rd place
LUKE BOTHUN, Dawson-Boyd (36-2) -- lost by injury default to Ben Anderson (38-6), Frazee ... 4th place
MITCH GRUSSING, MACCRAY (37-5) -- dec Raymen Rice (31-7), Eden Valley-Watkins, 5-2 ... 5th place
KEITH KLEIN, Paynesville (40-6) -- dec Nick Peterson (27-7), Eden Valley-Watkins, 5-3 ... 5th place
TRAVIS RATH, BBE (42-5) -- lost 0-2 OT dec to Tyler Steen (40-7), MACCRAY ... 6th place
TYLER STEEN, MACCRAY (40-7) -- dec Travis Rath (42-5), Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, 2-0 OT ... 5th place
JAKE NOHL, Morris/Hancock (36-10) -- dec Aaron Norgren (37-6), Maple River, 1-0 ... 5th place