Wrestling: Willmar Cardinals come home with some hardware
Willmar wins the Class AAA consolation championship at state, beating Apple Valley
ST. PAUL — With some top-tier talent at middleweight, Eli Heinen had trouble cracking the Willmar wrestling team’s lineup. Going into the Class A state team tournament, the Cardinals’ sophomore was 4-4 on the varsity.
In hopes of maximizing its lineup, Heinen got the call to wrestle at the Xcel Energy Center on the season’s biggest stage.
“Oh yeah, I had a lot of nerves at first,” Heinen said. “But I was able to push through.”
Heinen delivered for the Cardinals, going 2-1 at the Xcel Energy Center and helping Willmar to one of its best showings at state.
The unseeded Cardinals went 2-1 and finished as the Class AAA consolation champions with a 43-21 win over fifth-seeded Apple Valley. They opened with a 40-25 loss to third-seeded Hastings, then won 48-16 in the consolation semifinals against Rochester Mayo.
“It feels amazing,” Heinen said. “Just glad I could do it with my team.
“Last year, I didn’t really win a lot. This year, winning twice at state, I’m really proud of myself.”
The two wins are the most the Cardinals have won in a single tournament.
“I was proud of how we wrestled all day,” said Willmar head coach Ed Oehlers. “We’ve never won two duals down here. That’s pretty awesome. We’ve placed higher but we’ve never won two.
“We wanted to win our first match but after that, one of the things was let’s try to come away with two wins.”
Willmar moved Conlan Carlson up to 145 pounds from his usual spot at 138. It gave the Cardinals some lineup flexibility and the coaches figured Heinen could handle it.
“As we were looking at some of the matchups, we figured Eli could hold his own or get some of those wins,” Oehlers said.
Taking on Hastings’ Mark Svoboda, Heinen ended up with a fall in 1 minute, 20 seconds. Disbelief washed over his face as his hand was raised by the referee.
“I was not expecting it,” Heinen said. “They sent out one of their good guys who’s been injured all season and then I pinned him. I could not believe it.”
He got bonus points again against Rochester Mayo’s Kai Kobayashi with a 14-1 major decision. That was part of an early Willmar run that saw the team lead 30-3 through seven matches.
Despite missing out on varsity action, having the caliber of wrestlers Willmar has at his size helped Heinen stay sharp.
“Practicing with them, my skill really improved a lot,” Heinen said.
Oehlers added, “Iron sharpens iron. Those guys are practicing and helping and teaching each other. Eli fits in really well there. He stepped in well.”
Four Cardinals finished the day undefeated: Cavin Carlson, Ivan Mares, Sully Anez and Conlan Carlson.
“Coming down here and getting the experience, you see a lot of the hype and excitement with a lot of the other wrestlers,” Oehlers said. “Some of them who haven’t been here before get that taste. … Getting down here and getting onto those mats, it’s going to really help us for next season. These guys are going to have great experience and bring a lot of energy in the off-season.”
Hastings went on to win the Class AAA championship, beating top-seeded St. Michael-Albertville 33-32. STMA was the defending state champion.
Cavin (120), Anez (132), Conlan (138), Braeden Erickson (170), Steven Cruze (182) and Zander Miska (195) will represent Willmar in the Class AA state individual tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Willmar 43, Apple Valley 21
106: Louie Prouty, AV, pinned Wyatt Cruze, 0:55
113: Austin Laudenbach, AV, pinned Lawson Anez, 1:50
120: Cavin Carlson, W, maj dec Keiichi Kong, 13-2
126: Ivan Mares, W, tech fall Tyler Reed, 15-0
132: Sully Anez, W, maj dec Sebastian Castin, 13-1
138: Conlan Carlson, W, tech fall Tyler Laudenbach, 19-4
145: Jayden Haueter, AV, pinned Eli Heinen, 1:02
152: Cameren Champagne, W, dec Ian Haueter, 6-4
160: Mattix Swanson, W, maj dec Max Elliott, 10-2
170: Marcell Booth, AV, dec Braeden Erickson, 9-3
182: Steven Cruze, W, AJ Garcia, 3:02
195: Ramero Trevino, W, dec Dayveon Hill, 7-5
220: Zander Miska, W, pinned Alex Mock, 5:41
285: Daunte Castellano, W, dec Jayden Flores, 7-1
Willmar 48, Rochester Mayo 18
106: Wyatt Cruze, W, pinned Andrew Trimble, 3:50
113: Juan Cobarruvais, RM, dec Lawson Anez, 9-5
120: Cavin Carlson, W, pinned Adam Buenger, 3:49
126: Ivan Mares, W, maj dec Max Erickson, 14-0
132: Sully Anez, W, maj dec Kellen Burger, 10-0
138: Eli Heinen, W, maj dec Kai Kobayashi, 14-1
145: Conlan Carlson, W, pinned Tor Lindell, 0:20
152: Calder Sheehan, RM, dec Cameren Champagne, 7-1
160: Mattix Swanson, W, pinned Kamden Ernste, 5:04
170: Logan Burger, RM, maj dec Braeden Erickson, 10-2
182: Dylan Peper, RM, pinned Steven Cruze, 2:42
195: Ramero Trevino, W, dec Lucas Peterson, 8-5
220: Zander Miska, W, pinned Ethan Peper, 0:55
285: Daunte Castellano, W, dec Caleb Loomis, 8-5
Hastings 40, Willmar 25
106: Trey Beissel, H, pinned Wyatt Cruze, 1:33
113: Blake Beissel, H, pinned Lawson Anez, 3:55
120: Cavin Carlson, W, tech fall Taylon Little Soldier, 18-3
126: Ivan Mares, W, dec Peyton Erickson, 7-4
132: Sully Anez, W, dec Jack Bainbridge, 8-2
138: Eli Heinen, W, dec Mark Svoboda, 1:20
145: Conlan Carlson, W, tech fall Fletcher Peterson, 19-4
152: Josh Route, H, pinned Cameren Champagne, 3:48
160: Aiden Erickson, H, maj dec Mattix Swanson, 10-0
170: Braeden Erickson, W, dec Ian Pepple, 3-1
182: Jericho Cooper, H, dec Steven Cruze, 6-3
195: Derrick Steinke, H, dec Ramero Trevino, 9-4
220: Austin Leflay, H, pinned Zander Miska, 0:46
285: Blake Clemons, H, pinned Daunte Castellano, 1:51