O'Reilly, Matson earn Class A crowns
ST. PAUL -- Goodhue wrestling coach Josh Grant has seen something in junior Bailee O'Reilly for quite some time.
Yet there were two moments that made Grant believe O'Reilly was destined for greatness.
Last season, O'Reilly lost a tight match against Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Caden Steffen, who advanced to the state finals this season at 182 pounds.
"I could see Bailee was frustrated after the match, and he asked me what he could do to win those types of matches," Grant said. "And he listened. He listened to every word I said, and he did it. He's been a coachable kid ever since he came into the room as a seventh-grader."
The second moment came this season. The Wildcats had a dual against eventual state champion Kenyon-Wanamingo. Before the dual, O'Reilly asked if he could wrestle Ted Androli, who was ranked No. 1 in the state at 170.
"And he beat him," Grant said. "At that point, I knew he had the skills and the mentality to be a state champion."
Saturday O'Reilly realized those dreams by advancing to the finals at 152 pounds. There he met Jerod Novak of Aitken. O'Reilly scored all of his points in the second period, with an escape and a late takedown for a 3-0 lead.
Novak secured his escape in the third, but he wasn't able to score an offensive point again O'Reilly, who held on for the 3-1 win and his first state title.
It was Goodhue's first state title in 18 years.
"Bailee has been the ultimate team player, wrestling anywhere from 152 to 182, depending on where we needed him," Grant said. "I couldn't be prouder of him. He's humble, he's a great student and just a tremendous kid."
Not bad for a kid who was a No. 5 seed at last year's Section 1A tournament.
"The coaches always had faith in me, but for me, at the beginning of the year it was my No. 1 goal to win state," O'Reilly said. "I put in the extra time and then just had to go out and prove it."
O'Reilly said there was a point in the second period when he could tell Novak was breaking.
"I kept the pressure on," he said. "He was a tough kid, really physical, strong. I felt like he was tiring out and fading a little."
O'Reilly, who lost his mother to cancer a decade ago, scored first in all of his state-tournament matches.
He has four younger brothers who wrestle, and all were by his side following the big win.
"It's big for them too; they all look up to me I'm sure, and they want it just as bad as I do," he said.
Matson continues dominance
Kenyon-Wanamingo has had many outstanding state champions over the years. But none were as dominant as Jeron Matson.
Matson pinned his way into the Class A state finals at 106 pounds Saturday. There he met Dillon McGee of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley-Nevis.
McGee was able to stay off his back, but Matson dominated from start to finish and rolled up a 17-3 victory for his first state title.
K-W coach Matt Ryan said Matson put together the most dominant season in Knights history.
"This is as dominant a season as any of our top kids have ever had," Ryan said. "He's pinned almost everyone. His only loss was to the kid from St. Edward (Ohio) and there have only been a few other kids he hasn't pinned. And most of those pins were in the first period."
Ryan said just because Matson didn't get a pin in the finals, it doesn't lessen the accomplishment.
"A win is a win, no style points here," he said. "I fully expected him to win that match."
Matson transferred to Kenyon-Wanamingo from Medford this season. That allowed him to practice on a daily basis with defending state champion Ethan Cota, who beat Matson at last year's state tournament.
"Having a great training partner like him, that was huge," Matson said. "It helped a lot. I got pushed every single day. Some days I'd go in and get beat up by him pretty good."
Matson put in countless hours in the offseason, wrestling a national schedule.
So after such a dominant season, where does he go from here?
"I'll just keep working and get better every day, improve and hopefully come back and get No. 2 next year," he said.
Three fall in finals
Caledonia's Alex Goergen, Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Caden Steffen and Pine Island's Noah Bauer all reached the finals in their respective weights, but all three suffered setbacks.
Goergen was leading in the 195-pound Class A finals, but he was injured and that allowed Frazee's Jonah Lange to secure a win by pinfall.
Bauer ran into unbeaten Michael Suda of Pipestone in the 120 finals. Suda scored early and often, but Bauer tried to rally late. He almost had Suda pinned with a throw, but Suda fought it off and held on for a 15-10 win.
Steffen ran into one of the best wrestlers in the country in Keegan Moore of Jackson County Central at 182 pounds. Steffen pushed Moore a bit, but Moore won 25-12.
Other area Class A state place-winners included St. Charles' Mark Buringa (third, 113), Alan Spaeth (fourth, 132) and Lane Heim (fourth, 145), Kenyon-Wanamingo's Ethan Cota (fourth, 113), Ted Androli (fourth, 170), Luke Rechtzigel (fourth, 182) and Austin Jackson (fifth, 285), Chatfield's Jake Mandt (third, 138), Caledonia's Jacob Winjum (fifth, 160), Eli Craig (fifth, 220) and Blake Mauss (fourth, 285), Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Devin Manzy (third, 170), Dover-Eyota's Keaton Schaefer (fifth, 182) and Reid Seelhammer (fourth, 195)
Rochester John Marshall senior Logan Saltou wrapped up one of the most successful careers in Rochester history on Saturday.
Saltou advanced to the Class AAA third-place match at 145 pounds. He met Austin Brenner of St. Cloud Tech and dominated his way to an 8-1 win and a bronze medal.
It's Saltou's highest ever finish at state, and in the process he hit several milestones. With a pin earlier in the day, Saltou finished his career with 100 total pins.
And Saltou's biggest milestone also came Saturday. He reached 195 wins, making him Rochester's all-time wins leader.