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Cards' Carlson goes out a winner

ST. PAUL -- Leading up to his 160-pound state title wrestling match, an anxious Colten Carlson tweeted, "Waiting for the finals might be the longest two hours ever."...

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Willmar 160-pounder Colten Carlson, left, works on Tartan’s Justin Burg in the Class AAA individual championship match on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Carlson won the title with a 23-15 major decision. (Photo by Clay Cunningham - Tribune)

ST. PAUL - Leading up to his 160-pound state title wrestling match, an anxious Colten Carlson tweeted, “Waiting for the finals might be the longest two hours ever.”

His impatience wasn’t fully alleviated even when the match began, as action was halted four times in the first four minutes so officials could clean up blood.

By the time period three rolled around, Carlson had waited long enough.

Entering the third locked in a 7-7 tie, Carlson unleashed an unstoppable attack on Justin Burg of Tartan Oakdale to secure a 23-15 major decision, giving Willmar’s all-time wins leader his first Class AAA championship in five state trips Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Carlson, BOLD’s repeat winner at 220 pounds, Manuel Garcia, and New London-Spicer’s Tom Stageberg all won individual championships.

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Carlson locked up a trip to the finals when he pinned Emmett Wagner of Shakopee in the semifinals Saturday morning.

After struggling early, even trailing for a good portion of the opening two periods, Carlson said being able to finish so dominantly gave the moment even greater meaning.

“It’s an unreal feeling, especially the way I did it,” he said. “I love that I was able to attack him and just take him out so he didn’t even want to come back to center anymore.”

Burg wrestled with a style very similar to Carlson’s, where he easily surrendered one-point escapes following two-point takedowns.

Though it seemed to work early, Carlson was certain he’d be able to turn the strategy against Burg down the stretch.

“I know that I work harder than anybody else and if he’s going to give me free points every time he takes me down, great,” he said. “I know (in the) second, third period, it’s going to start turning the tide.”

After four previous trips to St. Paul didn’t produce the results he wanted, Carlson finally experienced ultimate glory in the final match of his record-breaking career at Willmar.

He also added to the already storied Carlson legacy. His dad Carl and uncle Chad won a combined three state title.

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Having finally broken through, he said those past disappointments made his eventual victory feel even better.

“That’s the best part about losing and coming back and winning by (so many) points,” he said. “Every year I lost just made me more and more hungry.”

This elation was shared by Cardinal Coach Ed Oehlers, who expects Carlson’s success to have a carryover effect with future teams.

“He’s made a mark on the program that’s going to last forever,” Oehlers said. “The leader he’s been is going to (have) just as big of an impact as the banner he’s going to have hanging.”

Four other Cardinals place Saturday

Two more Willmar wrestlers made it to the finals but struggled against high-level competition.

In 113, Cael Carlson dropped an 8-0 decision to Farmington’s Victor Gliva.

Carlson, who also lost to Gliva in the team tourney, reached the championship after earning a 1-0 semifinal win over Prior Lake’s Curtis LeMair.

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In 285, Brady Reigstad struggled to get anything going, losing 7-1 to unbeaten Andrew Piehl of Rogers.

Riedstad had been dominant throughout state up to that point and needed just 1:24 to pin Minnetonka’s Aaron Moore in the semis.

Elsewhere, Israel Navarro placed third in 106 and Logan Walkow was fifth in 152.

Though Walkow will graduate, Carlson, Reigstad and Navarro will all be back next season.

Much in the way his 160-pound star did from past disappointments, Oehlers expects his returning state qualifiers to find motivation in their Saturday outcomes.

“They’re going to have disappointment maybe in not getting the win, but I’m more than proud of them,” Oehlers said. “They’re establishing themselves in the state and I know they’re going to continue to build and be determined to do better.”

Litchfield’s Hoff places fifth in 160

The only area wrestler to reach the final day in Class AA, Connor Hoff of Litchfield placed fifth in 160.

Hoff was pinned by eventual champion Sam Baier of Kasson-Mantorville in the semifinals and fell 22-7 to Annandale-Maple Lake’s Trae Bedford in the consolation semis.

He won the fifth-place match by injury forfeit, ending his senior season with a 39-3 record.

Related Topics: WRESTLING
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