Lake City's Grisim takes new approach
When Lake City’s Rusty Grisim entered last year’s section championship match against Zumbrota-Mazeppa standout Grant Kyllo, he was just a sophomore and lacked confidence.
"I was thinking there was maybe a 10 percent chance I could beat him," Grisim said. "I just came in with no confidence whatsoever. I think he beat me like 16-8 or something; he just dominated me."
Grisim’s mindset for Saturday’s Section One, Class A finals at 135 pounds was a bit different. This time, he came in knowing he had the skills to knock off the top-seeded Kyllo.
And Grisim did just that, winning 3-2 to claim his second straight trio to the Class A state meet.
"I kind of started out a little flat, but I was able to get it done," Grisim said. "I felt like a lot of hard work paid off. I’ve been going up to River Falls to train like three days a week, so I had no doubt in my mind I would wrestle well this weekend."
Grisim said a great deal of the credit for his success this season should go to teammate, Will Balow, who will join Grisim at state.
Balow is just a freshman, but he qualified for state at 160 pounds. Balow is phenomenal on top, so Grisim has used him as a training partner in the wrestling room.
"I get a 135-pounder on top of me now, and it’s nothing because I’ve had Will on top of me in practice and he rides me like crazy," Grisim said. "It’s helped me a lot. He’s a great drilling partner."
A couple of the tournament’s most highly anticipated matchups came to quick endings.
In Class A, Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Chad Matthees met Chatfield’s Juan Gomez in the finals at 189 pounds.
Matthees is ranked No. 2 in Minnesota at that weight, while Gomez is No. 6.
The match didn’t last long, though, as Matthees overpowered Gomez and earned a pinfall just one second before the first period ended.
In another highly anticipated matchup, Kasson-Mantorville’s Sam Stoll met undefeated returning state champion Austin Goergen of Caledonia/Houston in the Class AA finals at heavyweight. Goergen is ranked No. 1, while Stoll is No. 3.
Stoll scored the match’s first points, taking down Goergen. But the champion quickly scored a reversal and rode out Stoll for the remainder of the first period. Early in the second, Goergen was able to turn Stoll and earned the pin at the 3:07 mark.
After the win, Goergen celebrated wildly, and he said that simply was because he knows Stoll is an excellent wrestler.
"He’s a great kid, a great athlete," Goergen said. "He’s huge, and it’s tough to move him. Just all-around, he’s a good kid. I knew how good he was coming in, and I figured he’d bring his A game. I just had to be ready for it."
Asked if he thought he might see Stoll one more time this season, the Class AA state finals, Goergen had a quick response.
"Oh yes," Goergen said. "He’s that good."
The state tournament will be a bit different for Goergen this season. Last year, he entered as a complete unknown, having not even won the Section 1AA title. But Goergen made his way through the bracket and claimed a state title as just a sophomore.
This season, everyone knows Goergen. He has been ranked No. 1 since before the season and never let go of that top spot. He has an unblemished record at 34-0.
But Goeren isn’t taking anything for granted.
"It’s going to be different this year, and I’m sure I’ll be more nervous because there’s more pressure," Goergen said. "My dad and I always say that anybody can be beat on any given day. You just have to take it one match at a time, and that’s what I’m going to be doing from here on out. I won’t be looking past anyone."
A No. 3 seed?
Despite being a former state place-winner, Kenyon-Wanamingo’s Oakley McLain received the No. 3 seed in Class A’s 125-pound bracket.
Michael Churchill of Southland claimed the No. 1 seed, and St. Charles sophomore Cody Ball was No. 2.
Despite the low seeding, McLain said it made sense. He lost to Ball, and although he never wrestled Churchill during the regular season, Ball lost to Churchill.
"I mean, it didn’t really bother me," McLain said. "I knew I’d get a chance to prove (where I belonged)."
McLain took out Ball in Saturday’s semifinals, winning 3-1. And then he downed Churchill 5-0 in the finals.
McLain missed out on state last year after finishing fourth two years ago. So he’s glad to be heading back to St. Paul.
"I knew I could come in and win," McLain said. "I didn’t know a thing about Churchill coming in. I knew he was good, but I just wrestled my match and did what I needed to do."
McLain has lofty goals at state.
"I’m going there to win it. Nothing else, just win it," he said.
Kenyon-Wanamingo had the best tournament of any Class A team. the Knights moved six wrestlers on to state. Zumbrota-Mazeppa has five state entrants, and Hayfield got four. The rest of the Class A tournament was spread out, with a total of 11 schools moving at least one wrestler on to the state meet.
Class AA and AAA weren’t as spread out.
Kasson-Mantorville and Stewartville dominated AA. The KoMets qualified eight, while the Tigers moved seven on. Plainview-Elgin-Millville finished with four state entrants.
As usual, Albert Lea and Owatonna dominated the Section 1AAA tournament. The Tigers (nine) and Huskies (12) accounted for 21 state entrants out of the 28 spots available. Austin and Rochester Mayo were the closest, with two apiece.
The section also handed out its coach of the year awards to Albert Lea’s Larry Goodnature, Kasson-Mantorville’s Jon Buchanan and Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Link Steffen.