Saints going to State - Here are the SJA Saints who placed second in the 4A Section and thus qualified for the State Individual Wrestling Tournament which will be held this weekend in St. Paul. All four wrestlers are seniors. From L. to R. Cody Hanson, Victor Torres, Devin Wolle and Zack Gleiter. Photo by Lynette Kinnetz. Story in sports.

    Four Saints wrestled their way to the Individual State Wrestling Championship last weekend by placing second at the 4A Section Tournament at Le Sueur-Henderson High School.

    The Saints, all seniors, will cap their careers by going to the state tournament which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the  Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.    Making the trip from St. James will be Cody Hanson, wrestling at 113; Zack Gleiter at 152; Devin Wolle at 182 and Victor Torres at 285.

    While fans are excited for the wrestlers who are going, that enthusiasm is tempered by the fact two seniors who went to State last year are not going this year.

    Richard Soto at 120 and Isaac Carreon at 132  did not win one of the top two spots this year.

    Soto was the first hispanic wrestler from St. James to step on the champion’s podium when he finished sixth last year.

    Fact is, if you are wrestling for St. James Area in a section championship you are a very good wrestler - a wrestler who is going to be remembered over the year.

    But if you are wrestling for that championship you are going to be facing good wrestlers. This time Richard came up short as he first lost the championship match and then lost the wrestle back which determined true second. Both of the wrestlers were highly ranked and one of them finished second in the state last year at 113.  

    Isaac suffered a serious knee injury last month and couldn’t make  a complete recovery by tournament time. Isaac won his opening match, but eventually his knee didn’t allow him to continue. His last match was an injury default.  

    Saints Head Wrestling Coach Gene Hildebrandt said it was a tough ending for two great kids. He thanked them for the time they put into Saints wrestling. Hildebrandt knows, “They will do fine in life.”

    There were a couple of Saints that almost made it to state. Senior Ryan Westman finished third at 170 lbs. Ryan lost to a wrestler who lost the championship match, so he didn’t have a chance for a wrestle back match.

    At 220 junior Adrian Torres lost in the last few seconds of a match to determine who earned the second place finish. Adrian has been out much of the past month because of a medical condition and that might have affected his condition.

    Leading 3-2 late in the match, he was called for stalling. With the score tied, he was taken down near the end of the third period and lost his chance for a trip to state this year.

    Cody Hanson is making his fourth trip to state. Coach Hildebrandt said there are not many wrestlers who have wrestled for St. James who can claim that distinction.  

    Cody got to the championship with a couple of pins, but he lost to a Windom/Mountain Lake wrestler 5-2 in the championship. Hanson had already beaten the wrestler who came through the wrestle back bracket, so he was the second place finisher by the rules.

    Zack Gleiter had one of the more interesting and longest journeys to make it to state. Seeded third at 152, Gleiter lost his opening  match. At that point the chance of making it to state is pretty slim.

    He first had to wrestle a match to get into the wrestle back bracket. Coach Hildebrandt said, “I told Zack to get three slips of paper and write 1 on one slip, write 2 on another slip, and write 3 on the other slip. If you win three matches you will wrestle for a chance to go to state.

    “Every match you win, you give me one of those slips.”

    The Saints have a ‘Men on a Mission’ motto and Zack was on a mission.

    He won the first match by a pin and gave the Head Coach slip 1. He won the second match by a technical fall and Zack turned over slip 2. He won the third match 5-3 and Zack gave the Coach slip 3.

    Now he was wrestling for true second. It’s something for a Head Coach with decades of wrestling experience to say a match was ‘one of five most intense’ he’s ever been involved with, but that’s what he called Gleiter’s match.

    Zack was losing the match when he turned his opponent from Windom/Mt. Lake over and pinned him. After the match the Head Coach and Zack’s Dad each gave him a slip with four on it.

    Wolle was second seeded and opened with a pin. He had a hard fought win in the semis over a River Valley wrestler by a score of 2-1. Devin has wrestled this kid before and beaten him before by close scores. Wolle lost the championship but the River Valley wrestler came through the wrestle back bracket so Devin went to state by having already edged him 2-1.

    At 285 Victor Torres won by a pin, won the semifinal in overtime 6-2 and lost the championship match to unbeaten Lance Braid of River Valley. He also had beaten the wrestler that came through the wrestle back so Victor is  also off to state.

    Other finishers for SJA  were Mario Garcia who finished sixth at 106; Soto third; Carreon  sixth and Tyler Westman who finished sixth at 138. Westman won his first varsity match at the 4A Section. He replaced Mark Alvarado who had appendicitis and had his appendix removed days before the tournament began.

    Kody Curry finished sixth at 145; Westman was third at 170; freshman Chris Johnson was sixth at 195 and Adrian Torres was third at 220.  

    Now it’s on to State where every match is tough.  It’s the last hurrah for four senior Saints. Read all about it next week.