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Willmar notebook: Xcel will roar today

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar’s Vaughn Johnson, ranked No. 6 at 170 pounds, will wrestle for the No. 5-seed Cardinals at 170 or 182 against No. 4-seed Hastings in the Minnesota Class AAA state tournament today at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Three area teams are in the spotlight today at the oval at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. Willmar in Class AAA and Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in Class A are two of 16 squads on eight mats for the 9 a.m. start. The roars are near constant from the multiple fans sections.

In 2013, l6,700 attended the first day, divided into two sessions.

At 11 a.m., United takes on Simley in the Class AA quarterfinals. The Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley/Montevideo trifecta faces an impossible task in the first round. The Spartans of Inver Grove Heights are ranked No. 1 and are the AA version of Apple Valley. Last year they lost to Kasson-Mantorville 30-27 for the championship, ending a five-year reign on the top of the hill.

Should No. 5-seed Willmar get by No. 4-seed Hastings in the first round — the matchup appears a toss-up — the Cardinals would face the “Apple-Dumpling Gang,” which is unbeaten and the winner of all 13 or 14 Class AAA championships this century, including last year’s 28-28 deadlock with St. Michael-Albertville.

The Falcons (23-1) got the No. 1 seed and will face unseeded Sibley East (22-8) of Arlington. The Wolverines won’t be a walkthrough. After twice losing to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in the regular season, the Wolves dumped the Knights 31-23 for the Section 4A title. LCWM is the only team to hang an “L” on the Falcons this term (33-32 at Grove City on Jan. 30).

Last year, the Falcons went 2-1 at state for the consolation prize. The meat of the lineup is back and senior strong making this the year to get it done. But the lower bracket is strong with Jackson County Central (22-4) and Minneota/Lincoln (22-3) opposite ACGC. Frazee, the 2013 runners-up to Jackson CC, is the No. 2 seed.

Rating the Raiders

It looks like both the Guillotine and the coaches’ seeding committee got it right. Only a takedown may separate No. 5-seed Willmar (19-3) and No. 4-seed Hastings (26-8).

On Feb. 1 at Anoka, Willmar lost to No. 5-ranked Anoka 41-18 while the Raiders were splintered by the Tornadoes 39-18. Anoka couldn’t get by No. 2-ranked St. Michael-Albertville in Section 7AAA, however, and missed the state field.

Both teams will look for bonus points from their ranked wrestlers. For Willmar, that would include No. 6 Austin Miley (33-6) at 126 pounds and No. 1 Colton Carlson at 160, or possibly 170, though at the higher weight he would have less advantage.

Hastings will look for big spreads at 132 where they have No. 2 Luke Rowh vs. Zach Leuders (13-8) and at 145 where Jake Anderson (35-7) has the edge in experience on either Levi Milhausen (4-12) or Eli Gunderson (1-8).

Many more matches could come down to third-period handwringers:

106 pounds — Willmar’s Israel Navarro (11-4) or Clay Carlson (20-11) vs. Adam McSorley (30-10);

113 — Juan Resendez (27-15) vs. Spencer Kopp (25-16);

138 — No. 9 Estevan Navarro (32-4) vs. No. 8 Austin Eichmann (28-12);

152 — No. 8 Travis Deegan (30-3) vs. Jake Johnson (31-10);

170 — No. 6 Vaughn Johnson (34-4) or Kory Welgraven (16-13) vs. No. 3 Dan Marquette (35-70);

182 — Johnson or Welgraven vs. Mark Vaith (20-20);

220 — Matt Hennes (23-15) vs. Tony Lodermeier (32-10).

Coaches will move wrestlers around, where possible, to gain advantage. It may come down to the 14th bout, where it’s anticipated the Cardinals’ Leon Richards would meet the Raiders’ Edison Duong (8-11).

Whatever happens in the first match, the Cardinals’ goal is certainly to come away with either a third place or consolation trophy, something they haven’t been able to do in the four previous appearances 1998, 2005, 2012 and last year, when they lost 36-22 to Moorhead in the consolation final.

The Spuds (20-3), too, are back again but came in unseeded and drew No. 2 STMA (23-3).

Willmar and Moorhead could end up in the consolation final again, or if Willmar beats Hastings and the seeds play out the next round, the Cardinals would face No. 3 seed Prior Lake in the third-place match.

United we stand

The D-B/LQPV/Monte combo, barring the upset of the century, will face either No. 5 Kasson-Mantorville (22-6) or No. 4 Totino-Grace (16-4).

United can bank on eight state qualifiers, five of them champions, to keep them competitive.

In the Class AA upper bracket, No. 2-seed Foley (25-3) and No. 3-seed Scott West (21-2) will be favored to reach the championship semifinals.

That would oppose cousins 170-pound senior Luke Kelvington of Foley and 113-pound sophomore Ben Kelvington of Scott West (Belle Plaine). They are the sons of former Olivia twins Brad and Brian Kelvington, respectively, who graduated in 1986, both one-time state entrants and the sons of Rick Kelvington, who coached Olivia and later BOLD from 1967-2000. Brad, a former South Dakota Coach of the Year, is a middle school principal. Brian referees college wrestling and is a media director for ATK.

ACGC vs S.E., again

The Falcons and Sibley East met in the quarterfinals a year ago with the unranked Wolverines pulling off a 30-24 upset of the No. 3 seed.

ACGC should be able to muscle through the first round with a lineup of eight state qualifiers that includes state champions Larry Bomstad and Lucas Damm plus third-place Logan Peterson and fourth-place Maverick Whitcomb.

It’s a savvy lineup that is aggressive one through 14. No wonder that the Falcons are 47-3 over the past two seasons.

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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