But team tournament time is where a coach tries to maximize his score. Head Coach Gene Hildebrandt moved wrestlers around to either get big wins or try and avoid having a Saint wrestler who might win at one weight suffer a sure loss if matched against a better wrestler at another weight. The opposing coach is doing the same thing.

St. James Area 49, Madelia-Truman 20

    The Saints first match in Quarterfinal Section 4A Team Wrestling Tournament was against Madelia-Truman and the Saints came away with a 49-20 win.

    The two county teams had to travel up the road for their last Thursday night tussle, but you have to go wrestle where the seeding sends you.

    The Saints were seeded third in this section in part because SJA had already beaten the fourth seeded Madelia-Truman last month by a score of 57-19.

    A month ago the Saints won ten matches and last week, the Saints won nine.

    But team tournament time is where a coach tries to maximize his score. Head Coach Gene Hildebrandt moved wrestlers around to either get big wins or try and avoid having a Saint wrestler who might win at one weight suffer a sure loss if matched against a better wrestler at another weight. The opposing coach is doing the same thing.     

    For the Saints it was trying to best deal with M-T’s Adam Cooling. He was a state champion last year and is ranked number one in the state this year.

    In the dual last month, Cooling won at 160 lbs. by a technical fall over the Saints Carlos Marquez.

    Last Thursday Cooling wrestled at 170 lbs. Because the Madelia coach most likely believed he might be able to substitute another wrestler at 160 and pick up another win. Didn’t work for Madelia as Marquez won a close one 7-5 at 160.

    Cooling pinned Colin Hoppe at 1:45 of the first period.  

    In the January match Ryan Westman of the Saints was at 170, but Hildebrandt had him wrestle at 182 where he won by default.  

    However, the team meet was just about safely tucked away for SJA before Cooling stepped onto the mat. Mario Garcia, Cody Hanson, Daniel Camacho and Richie Soto swept the first four weights for the Saints.  

    Seniors Hanson and Soto each got first period pins, Camacho got a forfeit and Garcia got a major decision, so the Saints blasted out to a team lead of 22-0 before M-T got a team point.

    The next three weights saw two majors and a decision go M-T’s way. That chopped the lead in half, but Zack Gleiter got a pin and with Marquez’s win the Saints had a 31-11 lead.

    Cooling’s pin and Jake Denn’s 7-4 decision over the Saints Devin Wolle at 195 gave M-T’s its final team points of 20.

    The Saints countered in the upper weights by Ryan Westman gaining a default  win at 182, Freshman Chris Johnson got a pin at 220 and Victor Torres got a win by forfeit at heavyweight.

Sibley East 42, SJA 20
    The win in the quarterfinals over Madelia-Truman put the Saints on a collision course with Sibley East in the semifinals.

    Head Coach Gene Hildebrandt thought his Saints might be peaking as a team, but the boys couldn’t peak as high as they needed to beat Sibley East.

    Still the Saint 42-20 loss was an improvement over the 59-19 defeat they had against Sibley East a little more than two weeks earlier.   

    As is the case in the team part of the tourney, the lineup can vary from match to match and Coach Hildebrandt  moved his wrestlers around a bit to try and maximize his team’s score.

    Angel Zamarripa lost a close 5-3 decision at 106. Hildebrandt thought the Saints could have had a win there - a six point swing. At 113 hanson won by a decision. Soto moved down to 120 and won by a major decision 11-3.

    The Saints lost the next four weights. Notable was the return of Isaac Carreon at 132 lbs. Isaac’s been out with a badly sprained knee injury and it was good to know he’s back for tournament time.  There may have been conditioning issues for Carreon, ‘rust’ Hildebrandt called it. He lost by a major decision.

    Gleiter broke the losing streak with a 13-4 major decision at 152. Zack had a good win because he beat a kid who beat him early in the year. However, the Saints lost at 160 and 170 by pins.

    At 160 Marquez was tied 4-4 at the end of one, but got caught and was pinned. Coach Hildebrandt thought Carlos had a chance for a win at that weight - perhaps another nine point swing that could have gone the Saints way.

    Ryan Westman picked up a 5-2 decision at 182, but Johnson at 195 and Wolle at 220 lost by pins. Like the Madelia-Truman match, the wrestler to avoid was state champion and unbeaten just about forever Nathan Rose. The Saints lost the coin flip at the beginning of the match and that meant Coach Hildebrandt had to show his hand at 195. Whatever weight Hildebrandt put Wolle at meant he was going to be facing Rose.

    If Sibley East would have had to have shown at 195, Wolle would have likely gotten the win at 220. It would have been at least a nine point win in the direction of the Saints.

    Victor Torres closed out the scoring in the Saints favor with a pin at heavyweight at 1:56 of the first period resulting in the final score of 49-20.

    So, if the Saints would have gotten some or all of the breaks and won a coin flip, then a win to the championship match might have happened. The Saints would have faced Windom-Mt. Lake for the Championship. That team upset Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial in the other semi. The Saints beat Windom-Mt. Lake 45-27 last month.  

    The team season is over and the Saints finished with a 14-9 record. The team lost of couple of close matches, but in the end the team record is what it is.


    The individual team tourney begins Friday at LeSueur-Henderson. Saints wrestlers will move to compete at their optimal weight class.   

    Four of this year’s seniors, Hanson, Soto, Carreon and Wolle punched tickets to the individual state tourney last year. Zack Gleiter almost made it. Coach Hildebrandt says no Saint is guaranteed a trip to state this year in part because LCWM added the Nicollet program to its team and Windom-Mt.  Lake moved into the Section. “The boys are going to have to earn it on the mat,” Hildebrandt said.   
    The Feb. 8 rankings of the amateur wrestling website, The Guillotine, gives many Saints the opportunity to make it to state. Making it to state means coming in first or second place in Section 4.

    The Saints will start with either Mario Garcia or Angel Zamarripa at 106.
    Some wresters with the best shot include Cody Hanson at 113 lbs. Cody is the highest ranked wrestler in Section 4A.

    Richy Soto will be moving down to 120. Hildebrandt thinks both Soto and Hanson will be seeded in the top three at their weights.  

    At 126 either Joe Dominguez or Daniel Carreon will wrestle.

    At 132 lbs. it depends how fast Carreon can get up to championship wrestling speed. There are two top ten wrestlers in section 4 who are ranked, while Isaac was not ranked as of the eighth.

    It will be Mark Alvarado at 138 and Kody Curry at 145.

    Zack Gleiter will be wrestling at 152 or 160, with Marquez taking the other position.

    There is one top ten wrestler at 170 standing in the way  of senior Ryan Westman going to state. Devin Wolle has one top ranked wrestler ahead of him at 182. Hildebrandt figures both of those seniors will be seeded at least in the top three at their weights. It will be either Colin Hoppe or Chris Johnson wrestling at 195.

    Hildebrandt hopes to have Adrian Torres back from a medical condition at 220 lbs. At heavyweight, Victor Torres has an excellent chance of going to state.

    All the Saints now have a shot at State - they’ve got to wrestle and win the matches to get there, but a season toughens a wrestler up, and anything can happen. Snow storm permitting, the individual tourney starts Friday.