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Eagles golden in state finals

Ryan Keach.jpg
Ryan Keach, of Dover-Eyota, celebrates after pinning Grant Jepson, of Frazee during the Class A 138 pound match in the championship round of the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. See Monday’s Post-Bulletin for complete coverage.

ST. PAUL — Over the weekend, three wrestlers "gave 'em something to talk about" in the communities of Dover and Eyota.

D-E seniors Ryan Keach, Michael Otomo and Tanner Welsh all had high hopes entering the Class A state individual tournament at Xcel Energy Center. And for the first time ever, Dover-Eyota has three state champions in the same year.

Keach, Otomo and Welsh became the eighth, ninth and 10th state champions in school history.

"It's great for our program and for Section One," D-E coach Curt Olson said. "You have to fight to get out of the section. I mean, look at Otomo. He's never made it up here, and when he did, look what happens. I think we definitely gave 'em something to talk about for a while."

As a team, Dover-Eyota has been to state only twice, with the last appearance coming in 2007. Otomo is hoping the performance of the Eagles seniors this weekend will help put D-E on the map.

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"Our program hasn't been that good, but we're changing that. We're changing the culture," he said.

Keach, who advanced to the state finals last season, won his first state title in dramatic fashion.

After getting caught in a tilt early, the 138-pounder was down big on the scoreboard against Frazee's Grant Jepson (38-1). But in the second period, he hit his signature move "the Keacher," also known as the cow catcher.

"I hit that cow catcher, got a little seat belt in, he clamps down and grabs the wrist, roll underneath and hooked up the legs," he said. "I could tell he was getting tired. I was a little nervous after he got me for the five count. But I just stayed in it and believed in myself."

Keach got the pin at the 3:17 mark.

Otomo also fell behind in his finals match at 170 against No. 2-seeded Derek Herman of United South Central.

But Otomo could feel Herman wearing down early in the second period.

"I knew he was a strong kid," Otomo said. "But I knew my conditioning would be the difference."

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After the opening frame, Otomo dominated, scoring at will and earning a 16-8 win.

"I worked hard every day in the offseason, never took a single day off," he said. "So this feels really good."

Olson said Otomo is a great example for his younger wrestlers.

"Kids can put in an offseason, then kids can put in what Michael Otomo did in the offseason," Olson said. "That hard work and dedication, he was just 100 percent committed."

In the heavyweight finals, Welsh did what he's been doing all season. He stayed in great position, rode hard and got out from bottom when the opportunity presented itself.

Welsh met Wyatt Fitterer of NRHEG in the finals, and he escaped with a 2-0 win for his first state crown. Welsh finished the season with a 42-2 record.

Welsh, Otomo and Keach weren't the only Eagles to bring home medals Saturday. Reid Seelhammer placed fourth at 195 and Keaton Schaefer was fifth at 182.

"This is so awesome for our program and our community, I'm just pumped," Keach said.

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Tanner Welsh-14.jpg
Tanner Welsh of Dover-Eyota, left, won a 2-0 decision over Wyatt Fitterer, of NRHEG, to claim the 285 pound Class A title in the Minnesota state wrestling tournament on Saturday in St. Paul.

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