This is old hat for teammates Mitch Bengtson and Grant Nehring.
But for St. Cloud Apollo junior Bryce Kirchner, competing in today’s Class 3A state semifinals will be a new experience.
Kirchner – in his second trip to the state meet – beat Buffalo freshman Adam Treptau 9-3 in the first round at 220 pounds Friday, then bested Winona sophomore George Weege 8-6 in the quarterfinals to earn a spot in today’s semifinals, which get underway at 11:15 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
There, Kirchner (30-10) will face Apple Valley junior Paul Cheney (40-4).
“I’m super proud of the way I wrestled today,” said Kirchner, who went 0-2 in his first trip to the state meet last season. “This is a huge upgrade from last year. I’m just super jacked.”
Kirchner will be joined in the semifinals by Bengtson and Nehring, two state meet fixtures for the Eagles who are in their senior seasons.
Bengtson, who had won three straight state titles before his 179-match winning streak was snapped with a loss to Eden Prairie’s Sam Brancale in the title bout at 126 pounds last season, is ranked No. 1 in the state at 138 pounds.
And he lived up to the ranking Friday, pinning Willmar sophomore Estevan Navarro in 1:51 in the first round, then pulled away in the third period to major decision Albert Lea senior Lucas Hansen 13-5 in the quarterfinals.
Bengtson (42-0) will face Prior Lake junior Blake Carlisle in the semifinals.
“Last year, I was wrestling more not to lose,” said Bengtson, whose career record stands at 263-6 and who is making his sixth appearance at the state meet. “I had the streak to worry about and all of that. But this year, I’m down here to win. I want to dominate.”
Nehring, who won a state title at 138 pounds last season, will go for a title at 145 pounds today. He pinned Rogers senior Kyler Swanson in 1:43 in the first round, then won 7-4 over Lakeville South junior Shamar Williams in the quarterfinals.
The state’s top-ranked wrestler in his weight class is 33-1 this season and faces Apple Valley sophomore Dayton Racer (28-1), who is ranked No. 2, in the semifinals.
The only other local wrestler to advance out of the first round in Class 3A was St. Cloud Tech senior heavyweight Jerrad Nieland, who major decisioned Albert Lea senior Jacob Kunkel 9-0 in his first match. But Nieland fell 14-8 to Coon Rapids senior Michael Burckhardt in the quarterfinals.
A pair of Kimball wrestlers are among the last local wrestlers standing in Class A.
Cubs sophomores Blane Tschida and Quinten Berres won both their matches Friday to advance to today’s state semifinals at 113 and 126 pounds, respectively.
“I was just working hard out there,” said Berres, who is making his third trip to state and finished third a year ago. “I’ve been working all season to win a state title. Now, I have the chance to make that happen.”
Berres defeated Frazee sophomore Austin Skillings 5-0 in the first round, then beat Chatfield junior A.J. Riley 5-2 in the quarterfinals. He will meet Medford junior Tyler Keller in today’s semifinals. The other semifinal at that weight class pits Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa senior Tyler Tensen against Goodhue senior Kyle Drehmel.
Tensen went 2-0 on the day and Drehmel beat Pierz junior Chris Ortman 6-5 in the quarterfinals to advance.
Tschida, who is back at state for the second time after finishing in fifth place a year ago, beat New Richland/H-E-G sophomore Dillon Kubiatowicz 5-0 in the first round, then stopped Holdingford sophomore Zach Scott 3-1 in the quarterfinals.
He will meet Wabasso/Red Rock Central junior Spencer Jenniges in the semifinals today.
“I just have to make sure I’m using my moves and I’m pushing my pace,” Tschida said. “If I can do that, I have a good chance.”
No other local wrestlers made the semifinals.