ST. PAUL, Minn. – March Madness is in full swing at the Xcel Energy Center where mats and singlets reign supreme during the annual high school State Wrestling Tournament. The three-day event crowned team champions on Thursday.
Friday and Saturday matches are to determine the individual state champions. Upsets are the order of the weekend and Friday was no exception.
St. Michael-Albertville senior Mitch Eull was upset in the 220-pound class by unranked Winona Cotter sophomore George Wegge in a nail-biting, double overtime match. Wegge had held off the heavily favored Eull until the second extra period, when Eull took a one point lead.
With just five seconds remaining, Wegge needed at least two points in a takedown to remain in the tournament. Instead, he flipped Eull and held him for a pin, sending the sophomore into the semis in his division.
“That was just nuts!” was all George’s father Myron Wegge could say before embracing his son and celebrating the win.
The typically large crowd of spectators focused on the matches going on simultaneously on eight mats on the Xcel Energy Center floor. In the back of many minds was the decision by the International Olympic Committee to remove wrestling, an original Olympic competition, from the 2020 games.
“The wrestling community got a big wakeup call you know a few weeks ago and a lot of people started to come together,” said Ty Eustice, Director of Wrestling Operations for J Robinson Wrestling Camps. “What I have heard from some of the top people is that this push is going to create some energy and create some positive excitement for wrestling where they’ll be forced to keep it and keep it in the 2020 games going forward.”
Eustice said the sudden announcement from the IOC shook up a lot of elite Minnesota grapplers.
“They need to rethink whether they want to go to college. One of Minnesota’s best is thinking about foregoing college just to focus on making the 2016 Olympics. So there’s an immediate effect for some,” said Eustice, who believes wrestling will be restored to the Olympics.
Trae Story, Roseville senior wrestler, is one who may be affected, according to his mother Frankie.
“He is going to wrestle in college, so it might affect him,” she said.
Story pinned his opponent in his 195-pound afternoon match on Friday.
The State Wrestling Tournament wraps up Saturday evening.