State finalists return to lead Rocket and Tiger wrestlers
Delano tournament is Saturday, Rockford-Delano clash Thursday
BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Ty Griffin did not win his class at Saturday’s Melrose wrestling tournament. Maybe it is too early to “peak at the right moment” like last year when he won a state title.
The junior was one of two Rocket wrestlers to capture state crowns last March when John Redepenning won the Class AA title at 160 pounds and Griffin took top honors at 120 pounds.
The other wrestler from the area to advance to the state title match was Delano senior Myles Hammerlund, the first in school history to have a shot at the crown. In the title match the section champion at 170 pounds lost to Micah Barnes of Simley, who finished undefeated at 44-0.
After Rockford wrestles at Delano at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, Delano will conduct the Tiger Invitational starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Teams entered include state power Apple Valley, Dassel-Cokato, Waconia, Watertown-Mayer, Kimball Area, Foley and St. Peter.
Rockford heads to the Maple Grove Invitational, 9 a.m. Dec. 8 and comes home for a tri-meet against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Holdingford.
“We have a good mix of guys, having 33 out in grades 7-12,” said Delano coach Jeff Olson. “We have a good group returning with experience and we also have a lot of guys that are in their first or second year of wrestling.”
The Tigers will likely have an open weight or two in team competitions. Hammerlund is at 182 after going 28-6 at 170 last year. Another leader is seniors Connor Dalbec, who finished second at 126 at last weekend’s St. Michael-Albertville Invitational.
A promising newcomer is eighth-grader Tucker Sjomeling, who barely met the minimum weight to qualify for 106 pounds at STMA. He had to weigh at least 91 pounds.
“He will be a good one,” notes Olson about Sjomeling, who took fourth at STMA. “He lost to two ranked wrestlers by scores of 11-10 and 3-1.”
Other newcomers to the lineup are Kooper Anderson, Zach Linden and Wyatt Russek. Also back is Aaron Wagner, who took second at 195 at STMA. He is joined by Kevin Kneis, Sam Fink, Austin Green and Gunner Bengstrom. Andy Rieder is out with an injury suffered playing football.
Rockford has a smaller team than normal, plus many of the wrestlers fall in the middle of the weights. The Rockets sent only eight wrestlers to Melrose Invitational Saturday, four earning high places.
Junior Brad Johnson captured the title at 138 pounds, while Griffin was second at 132. The weight class included four state meet qualifiers from last season.
“Ty made few mistakes when getting the rust off,” said coach Nick Peterson. “He is focused and ran cross country for the first time to keep busy and stay in shape.”
Junior Shasha Galka was fourth at 152 pounds at Melrose and sophomore Dillon Barningham was fifth at heavyweight.
“We will have a few openings at the beginning of the year,” said Peterson. “Once we get a few more used to wrestling we will move them to varsity.”
Last year the Rockets had every weight class filled, but graduated 10 varsity wrestlers. Captains this season are Griffin and Johnson, who placed fourth at sections last year.
The only senior varsity wrestler is Zach Nelson, who is in his second year in the sport. Other juniors are Dillon Grahnke and Max Gulsvig.
Sophomore Jacob Clouse is a second year wrestlers who is expected to improve. Other sophomores are Chris Dick, Chris Jacob, Tommy Reinking, Griffin Ekberg, Eric Dahl, Pavel Blechmann and Kado Cano.
Ninth-graders competing for varsity spots are Fordy Thorson, Nick Saurdi and Brad Scribner. Colton Webber is an eighth-grader with some varsity experience.