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Eureka! Four strike gold

BOLD senior Dustin Caspers, right, celebrates his Class A heavyweight title with head coach Tim Gruhlke after beating Alex Yeager of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 3-2 in the state final Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)1 / 4
Joel Bauman of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg patiently worked his way to a 9-4 victory over Ian Pratt of Mille Lacs to successfully defend his Class A 189-pound title. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)2 / 4
Brandon Manderschied, left, of Minnewaska Area ducks under Jon Gorter of Pipestone in a takedown attempt in the Class A 215-pound final won by the Lakers' senior 3-1 at the Xcel Center on Saturday. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)3 / 4
Benson's Ryan Thompson, right, topped Brad Keller of Medford 7-4 in the Class A 152-pound championship. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)4 / 4

ST. PAUL -- For some a championship is "expected" for others it doesn't seem possible.

It can also be a "long-term goal" and for most winning that final match in the championship round puts a teenager on top of the world.

The West Central Tribune coverage area went four-for-four late Saturday afternoon in the Class A championship round at the Xcel Energy Center.

Ryan Thompson of Benson won his second consecutive state title, this time at 152 pounds. Local wrestlers went on to win the last three weights: defending champion Joel Bauman of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg at 189, Brandon Manderschied of Minnewaska at 215 and Dustin Caspers of BOLD at heavyweight, all seniors.

Did Caspers think he had a chance to be the state champion, he was asked after edging Alex Yeager of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 3-2 for the title?

"No, never," said the first-time qualifier. "I was just hoping to win a few matches, but a lot of the matches went my way. "

Casper's coach, Tom Gruhlke, had figured his heavyweight had a shot at taking the title

"There wasn't a dominating wrestler (in the weight class)," remarked Gruhlke.

"Dustin just wrestled better and better and the semifinal win was as good as he's ever wrestled."

That was a 7-2 win over Jackson County's Jordan Phibbs on Friday night.

"I just wrestled that one with a lot of heart," said Caspers.

The final was scoreless through two periods. Caspers escaped to start the third period and then got a takedown. Yaeger came back with a two-point move, but would not score again.

Manderschied, a three-time state entrant, made the decision to bounce up to 215 pounds for postseason after wrestling part of the season at 189.

"This is the top of the world," he said while waiting in the tunnel for the Parade of Champions.

"It was a good decision," explained his coach Wes Tessman. "His only two losses this year were to Bauman and John Gusewelle of Sauk Centre, two of the top wrestlers in the state. He lost to Bauman in four overtimes at Morris."

In the championship match, Manderschied leveraged his upper-body strength to toss Jon Gorter of Pipestone Area off his feet for a two-point takedown in the first minute. After that, each got an escape point.

"It was a lateral drop," said Manderschied of the first-period winning move. "He put up pressure and that gave me traction."

Bauman will graduate in the spring with two individual titles and team champion medals in football and wrestling.

After his clinical 9-4 win over Ian Pratt of Mille Lacs, the Fighting Saint showed little emotion.

"Same old, same old," said the two-time 189-pound Class A winner. "I just do what I do. I stay in position and don't get scored on. I'm patient. I don't go out there to show off or impress anyone. Why celebrate when you do what's expected? But I'm very proud (of winning the championship)."

The Minnesota Gopher recruit (for wrestling) scored with what he refers to as his "old-fashion duck under", which is performed with cobra quickness that few wrestlers can long fend off.

He said his 10-7 semifinal match with Gusewelle was his toughest.

At 152-pounds, Thompson was overcome by emotion after topping Brad Keller of Medford 7-4. He ran and jumped into the arms of his brother Scott, a Benson volunteer coach and St. Cloud State University senior who won a state title in 2005.

"He's been my biggest fan," said Ryan while winding down in the staging area after his 170th career win. "He's always pushed me. He'll call me early in the morning to make sure I'm up and getting ready to run. The help I've had from my coaches and others has been overwhelming."

Thompson (39-1) finishes his career on a 37-match win streak. His only loss came on opening night of a triangular when he was defeated by Sam Haas, a state qualifer in AA, of Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley.

He set his goal in seventh grade at the state tournament. After watching his brother top the podium, he told his mother, Lori, "I'm going to do it twice."

He wrote that vision on a scrap of paper and taped it to a wall above his bedroom dresser.

"Everyday I look at it," he said. "It's a motivator."

Keller, who came in 43-2, tried an aggressive move in the first minute. Thompson reacted and wrenched him to his back for a takedown and three-point nearfall for 5-0 lead.

It got close at one point, 6-4, but Thompson wasn't about to forget what was on that piece of paper on his bedroom wall.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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