Class AA wrestling: Berge motivated to be the best

ST. PAUL -- Brady Berge has a a secret weapon, something no one else has, hidden deep inside his wrestling bag. What is it? A medal.

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Kasson-Mantorville sophomore Brady Berge escapes from Devin Fitzpatrick of Mahtomedi in the Class AA state finals at 152 pounds. Berge won a 7-3 decision at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday for his third state title.

ST. PAUL — Brady Berge has a secret weapon, something no one else has, hidden deep inside his wrestling bag.

What is it? A medal.

The ribbon attached to that medal is white, and the very sight of it makes Berge sick to his stomach.

It's a third-place medal from the 2013 Class AA state wrestling tournament. Berge lost a 5-4 decision to future Division I wrestler Kyle Gliva of Simley that year in the quarterfinals before battling back to take third.

That loss and that medal with the white ribbon attached to it are Berge's primary sources of motivation.


"That loss, that feeling I had, it crushed me," he said. "I never want to feel that again."

So far, he hasn't. Berge hasn't lost since then and that didn't change Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

Berge rolled into the Class AA state final with an 8-4 decision in the semifinals. In the championship match, Berge won a 7-3 decision against Devin Fitzpatrick of Mahtomedi to claim his third state title.

Just a sophomore, Berge is now 96-0 in his past two seasons and 100-0 since losing to Gliva. He was taken down just once all season.

Berge is well on his way to going down as one of the best wrestlers in Minnesota history. With two years remaining, the sky is the limit.

But make no mistake, Berge isn't done working. His complete and total hatred of losing won't allow him to slow down.

"The hatred of losing keeps me focused," Berge said. "I also think about all the hours my dad, coach Heidt and everyone else has put into helping me, and I want to make sure I give it my best out there for them."

Berge's championship match was closer than anticipated. Fitzpatrick remained defensive throughout, refusing to engage with Berge in the middle of the mat. It was a perfect strategy for keeping it close.


"It's the state finals and the kid was (34-2) and you know he's going to give his best against Brady," K-M coach Jamie Heidt said. "A lot of kids wrestle Brady and they're not looking to stick their nose in there and go toe-to-toe with Brady. He did what he needed to do to keep it close and give himself a chance. But give credit to Brady. Up here a win is a win, and winning a state title is never easy. I know Brady sees some things he did wrong and he wants to keep improving. He wants to be the best, and he knows he's not there yet."

Two for K-M

The KoMets also had another wrestler in a final Saturday — sophomore Keaten Schorr at 113.

Schorr gained a great deal of confidence at last year's state meet when he upset top-ranked Tucker Sjomeling of Delano in the opening round. Schorr went on to finish third.

Saturday he was back with his eyes on the top spot at 113. Schorr was a 6-4 winner in the semifinals, giving himself a shot at Jake Gliva of Simley in the finals.

Schorr was dominant on his feet, scoring first and rolling to a 7-4 win and his first state title. Schorr finished the season with a 39-6 record.

"I felt good going in, I believed in the training and I knew the hard work would pay off," Schorr said. "I knew (Gliva) was tough on his feet and hard to score on. He doesn't get out of position often, so you have to capitalize right away when he does."

Schorr said he felt like he was at his best this weekend, and that's due to the training plan put together by coach Heidt and the rest of the K-M staff.


"I think our peaking process that Jamie and the coaches put us through is so we can have our best tournament here. Knowing that and trusting that, it gives you confidence when you hit the mat," Schorr said.

Fitterer gets his gold

Cannon Falls senior Paul Fitterer has tasted the agony of defeat.

Fitterer rolled into last year's Class AA state final at 113 with a perfect 41-0 record. In that match, Fitterer suffered a devastating 1-0 loss.

But Fitterer came back bigger and better this season. He also learned from the loss, opened up his offense and got the job done in his senior season.

Fitterer was a 5-1 winner in the semifinals Saturday at 126 pounds. In the final, he faced Tanner Vassar of Annandale/Maple Lake.

Fitterer scored first, and he didn't let up, rolling up seven points on three takedowns. Vassar tried to rally late, but Fitterer had done enough to secure his first state title with a 7-5 victory.

Fitterer finished his season season 39-2.


A heart-breaker

Caledonia eighth-grader Kyle Cavanaugh's dream run didn't end in the semifinals Saturday. He won a thrilling 1-0 three-overtime decision in the semis to claim his spot in the finals.

There, though, Cavanaugh was on the other end of a heart-breaker. Josh Tarum of St. Thomas . Academy scored late to rally and beat Cavanaugh 6-5.

Tarum is a senior who finished 42-2.

Cavanaugh had a breakout tournament. He finished 33-13 and looks to be a force in the Caledonia lineup for years to come.

Other place-winners

Several other area Class AA wrestlers earned medals on Saturday.

Wyatt Richardson of Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland/Southland got the matchup he wanted against top-ranked Lance Benick of Totino-Grace in the semifinals. But Benick dominated from start to finish, winning 13-1.


Richardson bounced back, winning two matches to finish third at 195. He capped a fantastic career with back-to-back third-place medals, losing at state to only nationally ranked Benick and Nate Rose.

K-M had four other place-winners. Aaron Berge took fifth at 160, and Noah Ryan was fifth at 182. Chase O'Connor lost in triple overtime to Tristan Westerlund of Albert Lea in a rematch of the Section 1AA final. O'Connor took home a fourth-place medal. Seventh-grader Patrick Kennedy took sixth at 132.

Ryan Epps of Cannon Falls was fourth at 132.

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Paul Fitterer of Cannon Falls has his hand raised after winning the Class AA state title at 126 pounds Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.

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