Prep wrestling: Three-peat for Willmar wrestlers
PLYMOUTH — Make that a trifecta.
The Willmar Cardinal wrestlers withstood a heart-stopping challenge from Mound Westonka in the finals to collect a third straight Section 6AAA team championship and an invitation to the state meet on Feb. 27 in St. Paul.
As the No. 1 seed and the Guillotine’s No. 8 ranked Class AAA team, the Cardinals were heavily favored to repeat. Still, there’s the need to perform at a high level over three matches in a short six-hour period.
“Our emotions were up and down like a roller-coaster,” Willmar co-head coach Ed Oehlers said. “There were highs and lows, with injuries and obstacles that only heightened the team’s energy. Fortunately, our young men rose to the challenge.”
“It was an unbelievable effort,” Willmar co-head coach Justin Brown said. “The experience in big matches over the last couple of seasons and again this year paid off. The tough schedule paid off. We are very proud of everything the team has accomplished and we look to continue our success at the state tournament.”
Brown expects team seeding to be released at mid-week. The section individual tournament runs Friday and Saturday at Robbindale Armstrong High School.
Three Cardinals had especially important days. Israel Navarro, at 106 pounds, older brother Estevan Navarro at 145 and Vaughn Johnson at 170 stood out.
Israel upset the White Hawks’ Neil Schmalz, ranked 10th. The winning takedown came with 5 seconds left in the third period. Older brother Estevan Navarro, battling a knee injury all week, pinned all three foes. Vaughn Johnson also finished 3-0, earning a major over sixth-ranked Ryder Schmidt in the championship match, reversing two losses to the same wrestler a year ago.
Mound Westonka 23
Like Willmar, the No. 2-seeded White Hawks (Lean and Mean votes) marched through the lower half of the bracket. Israel Navarro’s win at 106 over Schmalz was unexpected and seemed to ignite the Cardinal bench and the Willmar fans.
Juan Resendez took out another good wrestler, Neil’s brother, Lee, at the next weight, 7-0. Jacob Bollig, plugged in for the injured Jon Linden, saved a point vs. No. 3 Sam Bennyhoff. Logan Walkow held the third Schmalz brother, No. 6 Luke, to a 4-2 decision. Zach Lueders lost 2-1 and Levi Milhausen, taking over for injured Austin Miley, was leveled putting the Hawks up 17-6.
But Estevan Navarro, Travis Deegan and Colten Carlson responded with pins to put the Cardinals up 24-17. Vaughn Johnson majored No. 6 Ryder Schmidt 13-4.
Senior Kory Welgraven and junior Matt Hennes secured the Cardinals’ section title with pins and the Cardinals were returning to St. Paul.
106: Israel Navarro, W, dec Neil Schmalz 5-3
113: Juan Resendez, W, dec Lee Schmalz 7-0
120: Sam Bennyhoff, M, tcfl Jacob Bollig 17-2
126: Luke Schmalz, M, dec Logan Walkow, 4-2
132: Ryan Reid, M, dec Zach Lueders 2-1
138: Drake Heath, M, pin Levi Milhausen 2:59
145: Estevan Navarro, W, pin John Byers 1:38
152: Travis Deegan, W, pin Cole Anderly 3:28
160: Colten Carlson, W, pin Noah Sweet 1:26
170: Vaughn Johnson, W, maj Ryder Schmidt 13-4
182: Kory Welgraven, W, pin Bricen Rasmussen :53
195: Bryan Tierney, M, pin Jalen Cabrera 3:17
220: Matt Hennes, W, pin Travis Peterson 1:56
285: Leon Richards, W, won by forfeit
Willmar 42, Wayzata 28
The No. 5 Trojans, who ousted No. 4 Minnetonka in the quarters, threw a scare into the favorites winning four of the first six weights.
At 120, first-year wrestler Linden limited his opponent to a minor decision, despite an injury that would keep him out of the final. Reliable winner Miley, at 138, sustained an injury and was beaten 7-3, ending his day also.
But the Cardinals’ were soon to roll out the heavy artillery: Estevan Navarro, Deegan, No. 1-ranked Carlson and Johnson each pancaked their foe, three going down in the first period. Hennes and Leon Richards polished up the win with sticks.
106: Boyd Mumbuwa, Way, pin Clay Carlson 5:48
113: Juan Resendez, Wil, dec Mark Wallerius 9-2
120: Arajazze Davis, Way, dec Jonathan Linden 12-7
126: Logan Walkow, Wil, dec Delaney Dahl 7-3
132: Nick O’Brien, Way, maj Zach Lueders 19-6
138: Evan Kluck, Way, dec Austin Miley 7-3
145: Estevan Navarro, Wil, pin Sam Gilseth 1:46
152: Travis Deegan, Wil, pin Andrew Kouach 3:24
160: Colten Carlson, Wil, pin Joe Kellog 1:47
170: Vaughn Johnson, Wil, pin Patrick McGinty 1:18
182: Collin Sohn, Way, pin Kory Welgraven 1:28
195: Jordan Porteous, Way, pin Jalen Cabrera 3:28
220: Matt Hennes, Wil, pin Kaln Buus-Williams 5:24
285: Leon Richards, Wil, pin Bryce Schwab :56.
Willmar 69, Buffalo 6
Resendez, Walkow, Lueders, Miley and Estevan Navarro won via falls in the early matches as Willmar got points in 13 of the 14 matches vs. the No. 8 seed. Willmar’s only setback was at 220 to a Bison ranked No. 6.
106: Israel Navarro, W, dec Charlie DesMarais 6-0
113: Juan Resendez, W, pin Josh Anderson :58
120: Jonathan Linden, W, dec Caleb Drews 4-2
126: Logan Walkow, W, pin Wyatt Jacobson Hanson 5:22
132: Zach Lueders, W, pin Josh Skarin 1:16
138: Austin Miley, W, tcfl Fletcher Durand 16-1
145: Estevan Navarro, W, pin Ian Scherber, 2:47
152: Travis Deegan, W, won by forfeit
160: Colten Carlson, W, maj Jacob Scherber 16-6
170: Vaughn Johnson, W, pin Matthew Ruhr 2:19
182: Darius O’Neill, W, pin Brandon Schreifels 3:11
195: Jalen Cabrera, W, inj. def. Hunter Durand
220: Adam Treptau, B, pin Matt Hennes 4:59
285: Leon Richards, W, won by forfeit