ST. PAUL — Paul Fitterer of Cannon Falls and Jakob Stageberg of New London-Spicer were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, by the Guillotine and were the lone unbeatens in the 16-wrestler 113-pound bracket in the Class AA championship.
How fitting that they should meet in the championship on Mat 3 before a huge crowd Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Through two periods and into the third it was still 0-0, when Stageberg stood up and worked free of Fitterer. The escape made it 1-0 for the Wildcats’ senior. Fitterer, a junior, got a near takedown at the edge of the mat with six seconds left but the lead official, arms raised, signaled no points.
The defensive standoff ended 1-0. Stageberg happily flexed his arms in victory and jumped into the arms of his head coach Jair Toedter. The gold medal goes with a bronze his sophomore year and a fifth-place finish last year.
It was a different kind of match for Stageberg, Toedter said.
“[Fitterer] has such good positioning and balance you couldn’t open up and score on him,” Toedter said. “Jakob has always been offensive minded and defense is not his strength which made it scary late.”
It was Fitterer’s lone setback in 42 matches.
Stageberg finished 38-0, an extraordinary feat that Toedter said is the result of topping off the necessary ingredients of technique, strength and conditioning with the right mental approach.
A tech fall and a major got Jakob to the semifinals where he decisioned precocious seventh-grader Anthony Jackson (42-7) of team champion Simley by a 4-2 score.
It’s the third state champion for Toedter in his 19th season. Most recently, Tony Noyes (42-0) won at 125 pounds in 2003.
A crazy thing happened during Zach Carlson’s mission to win the 160 pound championship in Class A.
Mitch Lange of Royalton/Upsala crashed the party.
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg’s Wes Haglund said that Lange dropped down from 170 when undefeated Keegan Moore of Jackson County Central dropped from 182.
No. 2 Lange handed No. 1 Carlson, last year’s runner-up at 160, his first defeat and second in two years.
“Lange wanted to avoid Moore and Zach hit a buzz saw,” said Haglund of the 10-7 setback in the semifinals. Lange (40-2) went on to win the weight class.
Carlson dropped to consolation where he won a pair of matches for third.
“Zach wrestled great all year,” said Haglund. “And he’s got another year left.”