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Section wrestling: Willmar wraps up 8AAA opener

No. 2 Cardinals cruise in postseason opener against No. 7 Buffalo, 51-15

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Willmar senior Joe Kallevig, top, brings Buffalo's Jacob Cremers to the mat during their 170-pound match in the Section 8AAA quarterfinals on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The Willmar wrestling team just needed to take care of business against Buffalo.

And that’s exactly what the Cardinals did on Wednesday night.

Opening with eight straight wins and a 45-0 lead, second-seeded Willmar cruised into the Section 8AAA semifinals with a 51-15 opening-round victory against seventh-seeded Buffalo at the Big Red Gym at Willmar High School.

“It’s nice to have hosted one and try to get a little bit of a crowd out again,” said Cardinals head coach Ed Oehlers. “Throughout the lineup, our guys had good matchups to get a match under their belts for sections. We can’t overlook any of the other teams in the semifinal round here but obviously our goal is to get into the finals.

“We’ve been gearing up for it. There’s still some things we need to work on in our matches. But some of those first jitters, hopefully we worked those out tonight.”

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Willmar sophomore Marco Sanchez, right, goes for the reversal on Buffalo's Aaron Radtke during their 138-pound match in the Section 8AAA quarterfinals on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar is gunning for its second straight section championship as well as extending its 11-year streak of making the section title match. The last time the Cardinals weren’t in the final two was in 2010 after a semifinal loss to St. Cloud Apollo, 45-25.

“We’re feeling good; our lineup is looking pretty solid from top to bottom,” said Willmar senior Joe Kallevig. “We’re working hard in the room to get everything we need to do to perform on the mat up at (Bemidji). We’re excited to get back into the finals against Bemidji, hopefully, and hopefully get them again this year.”

Read more prep tournament coverage here from the West Central Tribune.

At 5 p.m. Friday at Bemidji, the Cardinals face third-seeded St. Cloud. The Crush advanced on Wednesday with a 42-26 victory over sixth-seeded Brainerd. In the other semifinal, top-seeded Bemidji takes on fifth-seeded Little Falls. The Lumberjacks opened with an 83-0 win over eighth-seeded Moorhead while the Flyers knocked off fourth-seeded Sartell, 45-29.

Following the semis, the section championship match is set to take place at 7 p.m.

Each of the Cardinals’ first eight wins Wednesday came with bonus points. Cavin Carlson (106 pounds), Ivan Mares (120), Conlan Carlson (132), Jorge Zelaya-Velasquez (145) and Braeden Erickson (152) all won by fall in that span. Erickson, who was presented with a banner celebrating his 100th career win, stuck Jacobee Scherber in 1 minute, 20 seconds.

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Willmar senior Jorge Zelaya-Velasquez, top, tries to put Buffalo's Josh Schmidt on his back for a pin attempt during their 145-pound match at the Section 8AAA quarterfinals on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

The Bison’s first win came in a potential section championship match at 160. Buffalo senior Owen Herbst, ranked third at 160, got a 3-2 decision over fourth-ranked Jonas Anez.

In his final home dual of his high school career, Kallevig prevailed in a high-scoring affair at 170. Kallevig trailed Jacob Cremers 3-2 after the first period before Kallevig responded with an escape and a takedown in the second.

“I wanted to start faster, keep a high pace and being smarter in my positions,” Kallevig said about the second period.

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The third period had 16 points scored, with Kallevig emerging victorious with a 15-10 decision.

“It was just whoever wanted it more,” Kallevig said. “I trained this week and my goal was to train as hard as the next guy that I’m wrestling and want it more. Even if I’m down, I still have to have that mentality … so I went after it and got it.”

Oehlers added about Kallevig, “As a senior, it was nice to see some of that fire. He may have gotten into some situations where the other guy was able to get some opportunities. There were some flurries and a little unorthodox wrestling there, getting out of position and throwing each other around. But that’s part of the fun of it and I’m glad he came out on top of that one.”

The Cardinals’ final win came at 220 as Mason Swanson won a 6-0 decision against Brennan Halderson.

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Willmar senior Mason Swanson, left, gets a takedown on Buffalo's Brennan Halderson during their 220-pound match in the Class AAA state quarterfinals on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Section 8AAA

Willmar 51, Buffalo 15

106: Cavin Carlson, W, pinned Gabe Roehl, 1:17
113: Eli Heinen, W, won by forfeit
120: Ivan Mares, W, pinned Tyson Dvorak, 1:48
126: Sully Anez, W, tech fall Aiden Herbst, 15-0 (3:55)
132: Conlan Carlson, W, pinned Matthew Carlson, 1:49
138: Marco Sanchez, W, maj dec Aaron Radtke, 13-3
145: Jorge Zelaya-Velasquez, W, pinned Joshua Schmidt, 1:55
152: Braeden Erickson, W, pinned Jacobee Scherber, 1:21
160: Owen Herbst, B, dec Jonas Anez, 3-2
170: Joe Kallevig, W, dec Jacob Cremers, 15-10
182: Hunter Spike, B, pinned Jacob Leiva, 1:35
195: Macray Klohs, B, dec Ramero Trevino, 7-0
220: Mason Swanson, W, dec Brennan Halderson, 6-0
285: Carter Walker, B, dec Daunte Castellano, 2-1

021722.S.WCT.Willmar Wres Braeden Erickson.JPG
Willmar junior Braeden Erickson was honored with a banner celebrating his 100th career win prior to the start of the Section 8AAA quarterfinals against Buffalo on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Recent wrestling roundup:
Recent wrestling roundup coverage in west central Minnesota.
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