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Prep Wrestling: Making school-and family-history

ST. PAUL -- After securing his second straight state championship, Cael Carlson made a run toward the stands. Behind the hockey boards at the Xcel Energy Center, Cael was there to give his father, Chad, a long celebratory hug. It was a historic h...

Willmar's Cael Carlson celebrates winning the Class AAA 145 pound state championship Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Carlson defeated Apple Valley's Brady Gross to become the second Cardinal ever to win two state wrestling titles. Jake Schultz / Tribune
Willmar's Cael Carlson celebrates winning the Class AAA 145 pound state championship Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Carlson defeated Apple Valley's Brady Gross to become the second Cardinal ever to win two state wrestling titles. Jake Schultz / Tribune

ST. PAUL - After securing his second straight state championship, Cael Carlson made a run toward the stands.

Behind the hockey boards at the Xcel Energy Center, Cael was there to give his father, Chad, a long celebratory hug.

It was a historic hug between father and son, and between Willmar's only two-time state champions.

Cael joined his father as the only back-to-back champs in school history after beating Apple Valley's Brady Gross in the Class AAA 145-pound finals with a 6-3 decision. Chad won back-to-back state titles in 1989-90.

It was tough for Cael to describe the moment before having some flashbacks to early childhood.

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"Since (being) a little kid, you've seen your dad's banner hanging in the gym and your uncle's banner," Cael said. "Dad's got two, uncle's got one, and then your cousin starts winning 'em and you start winning 'em with him. It's such a thing that touches you inside, being able to do it with your family and doing something you love and you put so much into it and get so much out of it."

Cael continued, "That (hug) was a special moment for me and a good way to end the career."

Willmar head wrestling coach Ed Oehlers added, "It's pretty awesome and it runs in their family. They commit a lot to the sport and the program and I'm proud of him."

It's a little hard to believe, but Cael did have a chip on his shoulder heading into the tournament. He was hoping to get another crack at Gross. The two met in last year's 138 championship, with Cael coming out on top. Two months later, Gross got the better of Cael in the MN/USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle State meet freestyle finals.

"Last year, I think I probably wrestled my two worst matches (against Gross)," Cael said.

And according to Cael, the gamesmanship started before the state tourney.

"He texted me about four weeks ago and he's kind of fishing," Cael said. "He's been at 52 all year and he's like, 'I'm kind of thinking of going down, but 52 is going to be wide open,' saying stuff like that. I'm like, 'No, I'm feeling good at 45. If you want to come down and wrestle, I'll wrestle you.' Sure enough, he did it and it worked out."

Competing in his fourth final, Cael was at ease before he stepped on the mat. Plus, some mobile gaming provided a good omen for championship Saturday.

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"I've been playing 'Candy Crush' all day. I had a really fortunate set of turns right away this morning and I had unlimited lives all day," Cael said. "That was nice. So I've been staying nice and relaxed and when it gets close to time, I throw my headphones on. I put on some good music, start shaking my head to it and start laughing, thinking I'm going to have a lot of fun right now and go out there and get the job done."

Cael started with a 2-0 first-period lead after scoring a late takedown. From there, Carlson bumped the lead to 6-2 after two periods, with an early takedown being Gross' only offensive points.

"I didn't mind that (Gross) came down and wrestled me because I wanted to improve from last year and I wanted to get that one back (from state freestyle)," Cael said. "It was a nice feeling."

Over the last two seasons, Cael capped off his high-school career on an 84-match win streak.

"It's one of the tightest matches he had all season," Oehlers said. "Gross is an awesome wrestler as well and it made for a fun final. Cael did a great job and one of his strong suits is on top and he rode him out for a win."

A total of five Willmar wrestlers medaled at state. At 195, Lincoln Shinn competed in the championship match against Prior Lake's Calvin Sund. Ultimately, Sund came out on top with a pin in 3 minutes, 10 seconds. Shinn finished his senior season with a 34-3 record, with two of those losses coming against Sund.

Andrew Reigstad rebounded from a semifinals loss to win his next two matches, including a 10-2 major decision over Centennial's John Noll to take third place at 220. Both Kaden Streed (182) and Charlie Farhat (285) took sixth place.

Minnesota State

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Wrestling Tournament

How Willmar wrestlers fared

Class AAA

113

Braeden Erickson, Willmar - lost by dec John Babineau, Andover, 12-6. Eliminated

126

Josh Miley, Willmar - lost by dec Martin Stewart, Apple Valley, 12-7. Eliminated

145

Cael Carlson, Willmar - maj dec Solomon Lankow, Park, 17-4; dec Mathais Waskey, Forest Lake, 7-3; pin Luke Peterson, Farmington, 3:05; dec. Brady Gross, Apple Valley, 6-3. Champion

160

Ethan Roux, Willmar - lost by dec Chase Vought, Farmington, 9-7. Eliminated

182

Kaden Streed, Willmar - lost by maj dec Josh Piechowski, Stillwater, 9-0; dec Bruce Muehlhauser, Anoka, 8-4 (OT); dec Zach Young, Rosemount, 4-3; lost by dec Ben Schmalz, Mound-Westonka, 10-4; lost by tech fall Josh Piechowski, Stillwater, 15-0 4:13. Sixth place

195

Lincoln Shinn, Willmar - pin Josh Heyda, Faribault, 3:46; pin Godswill Pepple, Hastings, 1:45; dec Peter Moen, Bemidji, 4-1; lost by pin Calvin Sund, Prior Lake, 3:10. Runner-up

220

Andrew Reigstad, Willmar - dec Will Davis, Edina, 7-1; pin Antonio Davis, Park, 3:52; lost by dec Ezayah Oropeza, Rosemount 5-1; dec Nick Staska, Owatonna, 5-0; maj dec John Noll, Centennial, 10-2. Third place

285

Charlie Farhat, Willmar - pin James Johnson, Minnetonka, 5:01; lost by dec Marco Cavallaro, East Ridge, 2-1 (OT); pin Nick Lopez, Northfield, 1:57; pin Wyatt Kruse, Cambridge-Isanti, 3:39; lost by dec Tyler Kim, Apple Valley, 5-1; lost by pin Kaleb Beam, Bemidji 4:32. Sixth place

Related Topics: WRESTLING
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