By Rand Middleton
HOPKINS -- Austin Miley and Seth Pollock won championships and five teammates finished runners-up at the Section 6AAA Individual Wrestling Meet on Saturday at Hopkins High School.
The seven qualifiers are a school record; last year's five qualifiers tied the school record.
State individuals run Friday/Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Willmar's team will wrestle on Thursday in the team tournament.
"Many of our wrestlers have not wrestled nor experience the atmosphere at the Xcel," commented co-head coach Ed Oehlers. "It will be an amazing experience, more so with the support of our community and fans."
Willmar placed in 13 of the 14 weight classes; the Cardinals dominated the first seven weights finishing first or second in six and third in the other.
Pollock returns to state after finishing true second as a junior. Alex Johannes returns a third time and Nate Mittag a second.
Eighth-graders Logan Walkow and Colten Carlson are first-time qualifiers as is sophomore Austin Miley and senior Martin Cabrera.
Junior heavyweight Cass Herzog, who reached state individuals last year, was upset in the semifinals and won't return despite winning his three other matches by pins in a total of time of 2:53. Harrison Wright of Wayzata, who'd lost twice to Herzog, upset the No. 2 seed with a 1:40 pin. Herzog went on to win third place but when Wright lost by fall in the final Herzog was denied a true-second match.
At 120 pounds, Miley (32-9) decisioned Jake Stufft of Wayzata in the final 7-1, after a 6-4 OT win against senior Ben Calvert of Hopkins in the semifinals. Miley, a sophomore, and Stufft had split matches late in the season, Miley losing to the Trojan in the team final.
Pollock pinned Walker Rask of Buffalo in :59, decisioned Alex Tomczak of Minnetonka 7-0 and decisioned Mound-Westona junior Tyler Hebig 9-7. Hebig, ranked 5th Class AAA, came to the final 38-1.
At 106, Walkow lost in the final to Mounds' Sam Bennyhoff (38-2) in the final.
Mittag's 5-2 win over Jacob Price of Hopkins got him into the finals. They had split two previous engagements. Nick O'Brien (28-4) won the championship match at 113 10-2.
At 132, Johannes, who missed the team tournament (knee), had a bye and got a 3:25 pin to gain the championship round. He lost 10-6 to Collin Sohn of Wayzata. The Willmar senior takes a 32-4 record to his third state tourney; last year he placed fourth.
At 138, Carlson's semifinal victory was one of the most thrilling matches of the tourney. The eighth-grade son of assistant coach Carl Carlson trailed 9-4 in the middle of the third with senior Andrew Sutton (37-5) of Minnetonka riding out the match. Carlson got an escape followed by a takedown and near fall to tie the match.
Oehlers commented that Carlson's conditioning in strength were the difference in both the third period and overtime where he won, 11-9, with a takedown.
Carlson lost to highly-ranked Wayzata junior Wes Droegemueller (39-3) 11-2 in the finals and then had to win a true-second over Ben Rogers of Mound 8-3 for the state trip.
At 195, first-time state qualifier Martin Cabrera (13-3) defeated No. 2 seed Dan Schmidt (27-9) 9-7 in OT to reach the final where he lost by technical fall. Cabrera won his first match with a first-period pin.
Finishing third were freshman Estevan Navarro at 126, senior Shawn Johnson at 182-pounds and Herzog; Each won 3 matches.
Freshman Augustine Hahn and senior Chad Milhausen each went 2-2 to place fourth. Freshman Darius O'Neill also won a match to win a sixth-place medal.
How Willmar fared
Key: (Weight, name, won-loss (falls), place)
106: Logan Walkow 2-1 (1) 2nd ... 113: Nate Mittag 2-1 (1) 2nd ... 120: Austin Miley 3-0 1st ... 126: Estevan Navarro 3-1 (1) 3rd ... 132: Alex Johannes 1-1 (1), 2nd ... 138: Colten Carlson 3-1 (1) 2nd ... 145: Seth Pollock 3-0 (1) 1st ... 152: Darius O'Neill 1-3 6th ... 160: Augustine Hahn 2-2 (1) 4th ... 170: Chad Milhausen 2-2 (2) 4th ... 182: Shawn Johnson 3-2 3rd ... 195: Martin Cabrera 2-1 (1) 2nd ... 220: Matt Hennes 1-2 ... 285: Cass Herzog 3-1 (3) 3rd