For area schools, this might have been the most memorable state wrestling tournament ever.
Area schools advanced six wrestlers to title bouts at the MSHSAA Championships and three of them brought home gold medals.
St. Clair’s Herman twins won titles in Class 2 and Union’s Haiden Meyer captured a Class 3 state crown.
Having watched all three of them at the state meet in recent years, I can tell you that all of them had to work extremely hard to pull off the victories. Nothing is ever easy or simple.
St. Clair’s Ryan Herman won the 182-pound title for St. Clair and that marked redemption. He was a state titlist as a sophomore, but had to settle for third place last season. The only positive for Ryan was the fact that his brother, Aaron, was able to make the medal stand last year after finishing short of that goal in 2017.
This year, Ryan started the party with a dominant win in the 182-pound title match.
Aaron had a much tougher task. His opponent in the championship was Tyler Curd, a two-time state champion who had beaten St. Clair wrestlers in the past. Curd came with a heavy reputation. Still, Aaron Herman was not overwhelmed by his opponent. He wrestled a sound match and was able to reverse his opponent and find a hold to pin him.
Maybe the only person as excited was St. Clair Head Coach Mel Hughes, although Assistant Coach Matt Gordon was pretty thrilled as well.
The next time you watch a St. Clair match, keep your eyes on Hughes. It’s worth the price of admission.
Hughes has a strong staff of former Bulldogs. It’s good for the current wrestlers to get instruction from past standouts and that should help St. Clair develop tomorrow’s contenders. Three-sport athlete Dalton Thompson should be the next leader. Dalton finished fourth at 132 pounds but might be just as happy his favorite sport, baseball, is getting started soon.
Meyer became Union’s fourth state champion. It was his third state medal and he looked more confident this year than ever before.
Meyer didn’t have an easy match even though it was against an opponent he had beaten before. Meyer wrestled a sensible bout and took advantage of the scoring opportunities.
Of course, it might also have been the luck of the red hair. Assistant Coach Nathan Hoskins dyed his hair red. In 2014, Dalton Kuenzel showed up at the state meet with a red Mohawk and won a title. Now, it might be a state superstition.
Pacific had an overall great tournament, but I know the losses in three title matches were difficult.
All three should keep their heads up. Use the experience to make yourselves stronger. The only way a loss beats you is if you fail to learn from it.
Callum Sitek is the future of the Pacific program. He didn’t make it easy for an undefeated wrestler to get his title.
Ben Courtney and Jay Anding deserved better. Both are outstanding young men and I know there are bigger things in store for them beyond high school.
Noah Patton finished with the win he had been working for, beating a wrestler who had two previous state victories over him.
The other big happening this year was the addition of girls wrestling.
I don’t know if anyone really knew how this would go down. Originally, MSHSAA was only going to have two districts with fewer weight classes. It adapted on the fly to go with four districts and more weight classes.
This led to some issues. The boys have four advance from the district level to state matches. With double the amount of districts, MSHSAA had to make some adjustments.
I know there were complaints about the fact only three wrestlers advanced from each district, but those folks don’t realize that led to 12-wrestler brackets at the state meet when eight-wrestler brackets had been planned.
This forced some adjustments in the schedule and some very long days. MSHSAA will have to adjust this in the future. Whether it’s the addition of another day for the tournament or separate weekends remains to be seen.
There are a lot of ways the puzzle can be put together.
I’ve seen a lot of people who weren’t thrilled about the qualifying procedure.
The other complaint was that the boys medaled out to six in each weight class and the girls only had four. Washington’s two wrestlers, Mia Reed and Allison Meyer, would have been on the stand had there been medals to sixth place. As was, both tied for fifth in their respective weight classes.
“The entire deal about tying for fifth to me is absolutely ridiculous,” Washington Head Coach Josh Ohm said. “I have a big problem with only having 12 ladies in the bracket and only medaling four. They can justify it with any numbers they want but I still won’t agree. Right now we should be talking about Washington having three state qualifiers and two medalists.”
Josh has a point. And I believe this will be handled in the offseason by the wrestling committee. I don’t think anyone realized girls wrestling would be this popular right off the bat. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the girls expand to a second class, nor would I be surprised by the girls being moved to a separate weekend or site. We’re still in the days of figuring things out here and there will be trial and error before something solid is reached to provide for the sport’s future.