Who could blame the Wayzata High wrestlers for having a chip on their shoulder when they showed up for the Section 6AAA individual tourney at Mound-Westonka last weekend?
The Trojans were ultra focused because they had lost the section team championship to Willmar 32-31 the previous week. Actually, Willmar won the match on criteria after the meet ended in a dead heat, 31-31. Willmar was declared the winner on the fifth tiebreaker (most pins). The Cardinals had three to Wayzata’s two.
At any rate, Wayzata came to the individual tournament hungry and left satisfied.
Six Trojans won section individual titles – Boyd Mumbuwa at 106 pounds, Jake Stufft at 120, Nick O’Brien at 126, Weston Droegemueller at 138, Collin Sohn at 152 and Rob Schulke at 195.
All six will wrestle in the state Class AAA tourney this week at Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. This will be Droegemueller’s sixth trip to state and O’Brien’s fourth. Their experience will be invaluable as they counsel the Trojans’ first-timers this week.
Mumbuwa, a seventh-grader, is one of those making his first trip to state.
Quick and athletic, he had an efficient 10-5 victory over Hopkins’ Jesse Sattler in the section finals.
“It is really motivating to have teammates like Weston Droegemueller and Nick O’Brien,” said Mumbuwa. “It feels good to be part of this team.”
Stufft, who is making his second trip to state, was dominant in the section tourney.
He had considered dropping to 113 pounds, but felt 120 would be a more comfortable weight for the stretch run.
“I am trying to stay focused and listen to everything my coaches tell me,” said Stufft, who beat Ryan Reid of Mound-Westonka 11-1 in the section finals.
Stufft opened section action with a 17-0 technical fall over Willie Rohweder of Hopkins and then beat Weston Elias of Minnetonka 18-2 on another technical fall.
One of the secrets to maintaining weight is to eat right, Stufft noted.
“I love canned peaches and I also love peach cobbler,” he said. “But I can’t eat cobbler till after the season.”
Another key to Stufft’s success is practicing against O’Brien every day.
“Nick works me hard and I work him hard,” said Stufft.
Speaking of O’Brien, he is at his best when he’s taking people down. He goes to state with a 36-6 record that includes 19 pins.
O’Brien had seven takedowns during his 14-5 decision over Willmar’s Nate Mittag in the section title match.
“I knew the match would be a tough one,” said O’Brien. “I was able to get some takedowns early with a snap front headlock. I wanted to take him down a bunch of times.”
How does O’Brien assess his chances at state?
“I am probably wrestling as well as I ever had,” said the junior. “I have to stay on the attack no matter who I’m wrestling.”
Droegemueller, who finished fourth at state last year, has his last shot at a state individual title this week. He is 39-3 after scoring a tech fall (17-2) over Willmar’s Estevan Navarro in the section finals.
“It is fun to have so many teammates going to state,” he said. “We have been buddies since we were little guys.”
Sohn, who started wrestling as a second-grader, came to the party later than some of the others, but comes from a rich wrestling tradition. His grandfather Darrell was a highly-successful high school coach. So was Darrell’s brother Dave.
“I don’t think my grandpa has ever missed one of my matches,” he said.
Darrell looked on approvingly as Collin beat Colten Carlson of Willmar on a 5-3 decision in the section title match. Carlson came into the match with a 34-4 record, compared to Sohn’s 30-7. Some fans thought that it was the best match of the weekend.
Schulke is not as experienced as most of his state-bound teammates. He took up wrestling in his sophomore year, and has made steady progress since then.
Relying on strength and riding skills, he decisioned Nick Gabler of Minnetonka 7-2 in the section title match.
“This year I put it all together,” said Schulke. “It is a great feeling to be going to state. After the heartbreak of team sectionals, we feel better now.”
Contact John Sherman at email@example.com