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Wrestling: Steinhaus wins third state title

ST. PAUL -- What's left for Kevin Steinhaus to conquer in St. Paul?

He won his third state individual title on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center. His 250 wins are a Tribune-area all-time record and he helped Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg win the state title earlier.

Next stop for him is wrestling for the University of Minnesota next season.

In the 160-pound final, he dominated junior Tucker Freeman of Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther 14-3. Freeman, who was 41-0, got his three points gratis.

"I treated it the same as any other match," said Steinhaus, who went undefeated his last three years of high school. "I just go out and try and score. Dominate. This (championship) felt good because it wasn't as close as the others."

He finishes 50-0 his final year after 47-0 and the 152-pound title his junior season. He was second in eighth grade, third as a freshman and first as a sophomore.

Kerzman completes Bulldog brother act

Tradition is a powerful force.

It worked for Jon Kerzman during the Class A state wrestling tournament.

In his last chance, the Paynesville senior became the Bulldogs' 11th individual state champion when he outlasted Jordan Novak (37-5) of New York Mills 11-9 at 135 pounds.

He not only joins the Bulldogs' elite, but his place in the Kerzman clan is secure.

"That feels great," he said Saturday. "It takes a lot off my shoulders."

Kerzman is the last of five brothers in his family to compete at state. David is a two-time champion, Joel has a silver medal, Matt finished fifth and Josh competed in team competition.

Novak took a 4-1 lead with a pair of takedowns. This was unlike Kerzman's first three matches, each won by 10 points.

But Kerzman (39-5) fought back with a nearfall and reversal in the second period and it was back and forth the rest of the way.

"It was scary," he replied, "but now that it's over it feels pretty good."

Thompson never doubted his ability

Ryan Thompson knew he had what it took to be champ.

"I never doubted I could do it," said Thompson, a junior at Benson.

After finishing third last year (at 130 pounds), he had the confidence to go for the gold. It helped to know that all the 2008 state champions, 125 through 145, would be graduating.

Thompson (32-2) edged out Jordan Bendson of Staples-Motley 10-8 for the Class A title at 145 pounds. Bendson, the 2008 runner-up at 145, came into the title match 40-1.

Tied 8-8, Thompson scored with four seconds left.

"I was tired but just (wanted) to take a last shot," he said. "I got a double-leg takedown (but), I wasn't sure there was enough time (to score)."

He celebrated with his coaches and his brother Scott, a volunteer coach and 2005 state champion at 152.

Pairing gives Swenson a boost

Ryan Swenson went from a fourth-place finish in Class A at 125 pounds a year ago to first in Class AA at 135 pounds.

Other than adding 10 pounds of on his frame, how did he do it?

The key may have been the wrestling pairing of Dawson-Boyd with Lac qui Parle Valley.

"Joining with Lac qui Parle made it twice as tough in the practice room," said Swenson, still beaming after his 5-2 victory against Tossaporn Suparat of North Branch.

His practice partner was usually Sam Haas, a freshman and two-time state qualifier who attends LQPV.

The more rigorous practice and additional coaching also helped D-B's Jake Bothun qualify for state, where he took fourth on Saturday.

Suparat was a state champion at 130 pounds last year.

It was 1-1 after two periods.

Swenson managed to get a 3-2 lead. With seconds left, Tossaporn attacked, but Swenson countered as the two fell to the edge of the mat with Swenson on top for two more points.

"That was pure luck," said the sophomore. "I don't know what saved me."

Maybe it was the pairing.

Hagen's plan has perfect ending

Mitch Hagen polished up a sparkling 49-0 season with a 7-0 run at the state tournament, including 4-0 in individual competition.

Unlike Kevin Steinhaus, who precedes him in the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg lineup, the outcomes are often in doubt.

He won his first-round match 3-1, the quarterfinal 5-3 and the semifinal round 12-6. In the final, he faced Ben McPhail (41-0), a junior at Pine Island.

Hagen isn't especially aggressive or flashy, but he seldom gets in trouble and his balance is uncanny and he can be cat-quick.

He used it to decision McPhail 7-2 for the 171-pound title; last year when he won 43 matches he was third at 160.

"When I was in sixth and seventh grade, I had a game plan for high school," said the Saints' senior. "I didn't make it (to state) in ninth grade, but made in 10th and was sixth. I planned to win the state title my junior and senior years, but it didn't quite happen last year."

Hagen said attitude is a big part of his success.

"I try to keep a good mental game, not worrying about giving up points and treating the state tournament like a normal match," he said.

Title a stepping stone for Bauman

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg junior Joel Bauman seemed to take the 189-pound championship he'd just won at the Class A wrestling tournament in stride.

"No big deal," he seemed to say.

He said he's looking forward to a USA Wrestling Greco-Roman/freestyle tournament next month in Las Vegas. Last summer, he won a Greco-Roman championship at the national tournament.

Bauman was low-key on the mat, too. His four individual wins at state came by a total of seven points.

In the final, he faced Maple River senior Alex Bach, who had scored three second-period pins en route to the final.

"He was quick and strong and he could ride," said Bauman. "I'm very patient; nothing flashy. Just win."

It was tied 3-3 in the third when Bauman (45-2) went for the kill with an ankle pick. It drove Bach backwards to the mat for two points for the Fighting Saint and a 5-3 win.