Bringing home the hardware

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Four Mower County area wrestlers were recipients of medals at the 2003 State Wrestling Meet, and all four will be back for at least one more season.

Fourteen area high school matmen made their way to the state meet, with two returning as champions and two more making their way into the top six after Saturday's final rounds at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Hayfield's lone representative at the state meet, junior Shane Masching, won his second consecutive Class A, 125-pound championship with an 11-7 decision over Section 1 rival Shane Haag of Lewiston-Altura.

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Masching is 5-1 in six career meetings with Haag, including two decisions with the state title on the line. Masching finished the season with a 38-1 overall record.

Austin junior T.J. Parlin, a Pacelli High student, was crowned the 130-pound Class AAA champion after three seasons of falling just short. Parlin was third at state for two consecutive seasons before bringing home last year's runner-up medal at 125. This year he completed the sequence with a 6-3 decision over Joe Miller of Bemidji in the finals.

Parlin went 38-2 en route to the title.

Junior Adam Schlee of Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland went into the Class AA, 112-pound bracket as the third-ranked wrestler and emerged with sixth place. He went 2-3 at state, dropping a 7-3 decision to Nate Rausch in the fifth-place match. Schlee (33-5) had defeated Rausch 4-2 in the championship quarterfinals Thursday night.

Blooming Prairie's third-ranked 215-pound sophomore Jay Salinas (32-7) got sweet revenge in the consolation semifinals by beating Section 2A rival Tony Miller of LeCenter. Salinas was eventually pinned by fifth-ranked Mark Olson of Minneota in the third-place match, garnering fourth with a 3-2 record in his first trip to state.

Southland shut out

Despite sending more wrestlers to state than any other area school, Southland was shut out of Saturday's wrestling. A surprise no more, 152-pound sophomore Lucas Smith advanced farther than any of his three teammates. He won his opening round match 6-0 over Matt Fritz of Norwood, Young America, before getting pinned by the eventual fourth-place finisher.

Smith won an 8-6 match to reach the consolation quarterfinals before getting technical falled by the third-place finisher, Matt Steffenson of Mille Lacs.

"He was a surprise at sections and he was a surprise at state as well," said Southland coach Bill Feuchtenberger. "His overall attitude and demeanor impressed me. He didn't seem nervous at all.

"Next year there's no surprises from Lucas."

The sophomore was the only of four Southland wrestlers to get a win, finishing the season with a 30-18 record. Three other Rebel matmen -- all seniors -- went a combined 0-4.

The most surprising first-round victims was Adam Landherr, Southland's top-ranked 160-pound wrestler who last year finished second at 152. Jacob Malone of New York Mills, ranked fourth, won a 4-3 double-overtime decision on a stalling infraction charged to Landherr. Third-ranked Zeb Roth of LCWM edged Malone, 3-2, to eliminate Landherr's comeback chances.

Roth later defeated Malone in the third-place match, 5-3.

"Adam had only one intention going up there, and that was to take the whole ball of wax," Feuchtenberger said. "But it didn't come out that way.

"In my personal opinion, that's not the way the match should end for either kid. Let the kids decide it. I just wish Adam's situation would have been decided a way other than it was."

Landherr finished his senior season with a 38-2 record and more than just a broken heart to show for it. He was honored with one of 14 Academic All-State awards, and one of three $750 scholarships from the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association.

Feuchtenberger said that Landherr has received two offers to wrestle collegiately, including one Division II school.

The Southland squad also received a silver plaque from the MWCA for a grade-point-average above 3.25. Southland has received three silvers and one gold plaque (3.5) in the last four years.

"It's nice to see the kids honored for their hard work," Feuchtenberger said. "Grades are a priority for us."

Senior 140-pounder Pete Churchill (34-10) lost his only state meet match, 8-3 to Noah Blum of Medford. Blum then exited with injury forfeits in his next two matches.

Senior Zach Stratton returned to the state field at 112 after a one-year hiatus. Stratton placed fifth at 103 as a sophomore, but a tough draw left him facing defending 103-pound champion Gabriel Mooney in the opening round. Mooney got the fall at 4:51, knocking Stratton into the consolation rounds against second-ranked Brandan Schunk of Wabasso. A close match on the scoreboard ended prematurely with Schunk getting the pin at 4:11.

Stratton's career ended with a 33-10 senior season. Mooney went on to win his third consecutive state title.

"They all wrestled well," Feuchtenberger said. "I really would have liked to see one of them place. I'd liked for each of them to win a few matches and maybe even place."

One and done

Each area school had just one wrestler earn victories at state, including Austin, GMLOK and Blooming Prairie.

GMLOK got Schlee into sixth place in Class AA, but teammates Taylor and Joe Bunne both were knocked out after the first day. Joe Bunne was last year's sixth-place finisher at 152, but the junior campaign ended with an 0-2 record at state and 26-7 overall mark. Taylor Bunne (33-4) was beat out in his first match at 125.

Same goes for BPHS, as senior Grant Johnson and junior Luke Nelson each went one-and-done. Johnson (31-10) was a state qualifier last year and Nelson (33-5) went two years ago, but neither brought back victories.

Austin's trio of Parlin, Matt Day and Marcus Ball brought back a state championship and plenty of experience. Day (13-19) and Ball (27-8), both sophomores, laid the groundwork for maybe more appearances at state over the next two seasons.