The Saints finished second to the Blue Earth Area Bucs at the South Central Conference Tournament in New Ulm this past Saturday.
The team scores were:
1. Blue Earth Area 184.0
2. St. James Area 170.0
3. St. Peter 161.0
4. Fairmont/MCW 144.5
5. New Ulm 102.0
6. Waseca 81.0
Two Saints claimed championships. Sophomore Angel Zamarripa won the 106 lbs. crown when he pinned Zach Buseman of BEA in 2:29 seconds of the second period.
Senior Richard Soto pushed his senior season record to 28-2 when he won by a major decision at 126 lbs. over Elijah Gronewold of Fairmont/MCW by a score of 14-6.
Three other Saints wrestled in the championship round, but came up short.
Kody Curry lost at 145 lbs. to a BEA wrestler 8-3.
Zack Gleiter lost a tough decision to Joe Weber of Fairmont/MCW by a score of 8-7.
Both of those two Saints had upset wins in the semis over ranked or highly rated opponents to get to the finals.
Devin Wolle was pinned at 182 lbs. at 5:53 of the third period.
The Saints were hampered as three senior wrestlers missed the tournament. Isaac Carreon, Carlos Marquez and Ryan Westman did not wrestle because of injuries or illness.
Saints Head Coach Gene Hildebrandt was pleased with the way the Saints wrestled, but he said the Saints probably would have won the tourney if they had been completely healthy. But injuries are part of the sport and you compete with the team you put on the mat.
Carreon’s been out for several weeks with a knee injury. He most likely would have wrestled at 132 lbs. That weight class was won by a New Ulm wrestler who had been out three weeks with a broken ankle. In his career Carreon’s beaten every wrestler who was in the tourney at that weight.
The Saints also suffered what might be considered upsets in the semis, as two seniors lost. Cody Hanson at 113 lbs. and Victor Torres at heavyweight both lost. Torres had beaten his opponent every other time he had wrestled him.
In regular season duals the Saints lost to both BEA and St. Peter. A measure of success, the Saints held off the other Saints to claim second place in the tourney.
There was a flow to this tournament that was a bit similar to the way the dual against BEA played out in that on Saturday the Saints beat BEA in head to head competition in the lower weights only to have the team lead slip away in the middle and upper weights.
Page 2 of 3 - In the dual meet last month, SJA jumped out to a 15-3 lead before losing 33-22. Going into the final rounds the Saints trailed the Bucs 151 to 137.
However, the Saints had three head to head matches vs. BEA wrestlers in the first three weights. Zamarripa won his championship. Wrestling for third place Cody Hanson pinned his BEA opponent.
Getting his first varsity wrestling exposure of the year - at the conference championship mind you - sophomore Daniel Camacho beat a BEA wrestler for second place.
Those matches combined with Soto’s championship, helped SJA take a 154-151 lead over BEA. It was Soto’s third South Central Conference Championship.
But the Saints could not score enough points in the upper weights and both BEA and St. Peter had some very strong wrestlers in those weights.
Late in the final round of the tourney, St. Peter closed to within a few points of SJA and it looked like the Saints hold on second place might be threatened.
But the Torres brothers, Adrian at 220 and Victor at heavyweight, won third place matches and locked up second place for SJA.
Adrian got a 6-5 decision over a BEA wrestler and Victor got a pin over a New Ulm wrestler in 37 seconds of the first period.
Other Saints who competed in the Conference Tourney and placed fourth were Joe Dominquez at 132, Mark Alvarado at 138, Josh Stordalen at 160 and Colin Hoppe at 170. All of these Saints are underclassmen.
Freshman Chris Johnson finished fifth at 195.
Several Saints had milestone wins during the tournament. Zack Gleiter and Victor Torres got their 50th career wins. Victor got his 25th pin. Cody Hanson got his 50th career pin as a Saint. Cody also placed third in the conference as the Offensive Wrestler of the Year with 47 points.
The team and then the individual roads to the State Championships get underway next for the Saints.
The Saints are seeded third for the team wrestling championships. No. 3 SJA wrestles No. 6 Madelia-Truman on Thursday at Sibley East H.S.
The Saints beat Madelia-Truman earlier in the year by a score of 57-19. Assuming the Saints repeat their dominant performance against Madelia-Truman, then SJA would most likelt advance to wrestle Sibley East on Saturday.
That match will be held at the Norwood Young America High School. The Saints fell to Sibley East by a score of 39-19 last month.
Page 3 of 3 - The winner of that match would most likely wrestle Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial for the Section 4A team championship and the winner of that match would go to the State Team Wrestling Championship.
Coach Hildebrandt thinks everyone will be back for the tourney. “We will be peaking at the right time. Last year we might have peaked a week too early,” he said.
That team came within an eyelash of going to state.