Gophers commit Hunter Lyden enjoyed his third and final state title Saturday night — claiming the 170-pound, Class 3A title — more than last year’s championship.
No. 1, Lyden was awfully banged up last year.
“It’s a lot different preparing for a match knowing that you’re healthy versus questioning if you’re going to make it through with an injury,” the senior said. “It is a whole different mindset going in, and I’m very happy I get to compete my very last high school match on a good body and a good mindset, knowing that I’m confident to go out there and show everyone what I’ve done.”
Lyden, who came to Stillwater from East Ridge as a sophomore, and called it “the greatest change I’ve ever made,” took a moment Saturday night to look up at the crowd and savor the moment. That might not be something he’d have done in the past.
He used to be the nervous kid who’d puke before every match. Now, he’s found a way to enjoy the nerves after a coach explained to him that feeling rarely comes to people. It’s a natural high that should be savored.
“It’s something that makes you feel. Some people, it scares them, some people, it makes them free, that’s what makes them have fun. I’ve started to learn that, and it changes the sport for me,” Lyden said. “People look at me now, I smile, and they think I never got nervous or I don’t care. I was one of the most nervous kids you could find. Once you learn to overcome that, it’s way more fun. It’s not a burden, it’s something fun you want to go do.”
Stillwater junior Ryder Rogotzke checked a couple boxes Saturday night with his pin in the 182 pound, Class 3A title match. He won his first state title, which meant getting less grief from friends, family members and teammates.
Despite the fact he’s won Pan-American titles and the highly-coveted Super 32 crown, the high school state title had eluded him.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “I can’t get teased no more.”
The pin was his 44th of the season, which tied a state record he was very aware of. Rogotzke has had his eye on that mark since he was in seventh grade.
He’s chased that mark, which made the state tournament all the more dramatic. Yes, he was going to win, but he needed all pins to tie the mark, and he got it.
“It definitely increases (the pressure), even though I know I’m going to win it, but the pressure to pin him. I had the record on the line, that’s all I’m thinking about going out there,” Rogotzke said.
Next year, he hopes to break that pin record, and hold and maintain the top spot in the national rankings.
VOLK WINS NO. 3
Jore Volk won his third state title, claiming the 132-pound, Class 3A crown. It’s a title he didn’t know if he’d have the chance to win over the summer. Volk had surgery to repair a torn UCL in his elbow, and doctors originally told him he’d miss his senior wrestling season.
The Wyoming signee was crushed, though not entirely convinced. Sure enough, he rehabbed and progressed to the point where he could return midseason, and then went on to win title No. 3.
“It means everything knowing that all my hard work and dedication paid off,” he said.
FINALLY, A CHAMP
After back to back seasons ending with a title match loss, Lakeville North’s Zach Hanson reversed his fortunes Saturday with an overtime win to claim his first state title.
“I try not to let (the past losses) get to me. It sucks in the moment, but at the end of the day, it’s just a wrestling match,” Hanson said. “I’ve gotten to where I am today even with those losses, and I’m super grateful for them, because they do give me drive, but this year I knew it was my year.”
NO STATE TO GREAT
Forest Lake’s Daniel VanAcker was a state place winner as a sophomore. Last year, he wasn’t at state, after he was bounced in super sections.
“All summer I was thinking about that,” he said after winning the 152-pound, Class 3A title Saturday. “Honestly, I don’t think it was putting in more time over the offseason or even in the season. Something just kind of clicked for me.”
Rather than going non-stop, he made a point to let his opponents wear themselves out in the first round, then the cross country runner took over from there.
The Spartans won three state titles Saturday — Charli Raymond in the girls, Brandon Morvari in the Class 2A, 113-pound bracket and Gavin Nelson winning his second title at 220 pounds.
Simley coach Will Short said the title gives Morvari the confidence that can match his immense wrestling abilities. While Nelson, a Gophers commit, continues to show his dominance.
“Going into that (last) match, I knew that I wanted to be really dominant,” Nelson said about his title-round pin. “I wanted to go out there and show how big of a gap there is between me and the rest of the state of Minnesota, and I thought I did a good job of doing it.”
Hastings sophomore Blake Beissel won the Class 3A, 106-pound crown. Zach Silvis finished second in the Class 3A, 120-pound bracket, and in the process became Park’s first finalist since 1991. Simley’s Chase DeBlaere came up just short in his quest to win four straight state titles. He finished second in the Class 2A, 132-pound division.
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