Wrestling '22-'23: Returning state champion and state runner-up among 12 area wrestlers to watch this season
Dover-Eyota's Gavin Gust, who won a state title last season, and Kasson-Mantorville's Cole Glazier, a St. Cloud State University commit and two-time top three state finisher, are among the top wrestlers in southeastern Minnesota this winter.
Gavin Gust, senior, Dover-Eyota
Gust is the area’s lone returning state champion, claiming the Class A 152-pound title by a 5-2 decision over Jacob Leibold of Royalton/Upsala. He enters his senior year a three-time state medalist and has just two losses the past two seasons. He had a great offseason, placing fourth at the Minnesota Kids State Greco and USA Wrestling Northern Plains Regional while wrestling for the Guerrilla Wrestling Club. The Guillotine lists him as top-ranked wrestler at 160 in Class A as well as the ninth best senior grappler in all of Minnesota.
Cole Glazier, senior, Kasson-Mantorville
At 165 career wins and consecutive top-three finishes at state, Glazier is one of the more accomplished wrestlers in the area. The St. Cloud State University commit is still in search of that elusive state title though. He was so close last year, falling by a 4-2 sudden victory in overtime to three-time state finalist Connor Tulenchik. In the offseason, he dominated the Northern Plains Regional en route to a first place finish. He also competed at the MN/USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National Camp. He’s a state title favorite, entering the season ranked No. 1 at 160 in Class AA by The Guillotine, who also has him ranked as the 18th best senior in all of Minnesota entering the season.
Jack Krier, junior, Zumbrota-Mazeppa
Krier is a two-time state medalist, placing sixth in Class AA at 120 after placing fifth in Class A at 106 as a freshman. He turned in an impressive second place finish at the Bi-State Classic and won a Section 1AA title. Krier reached the state semifinal by outscoring his first two opponents 16-1. He re-aggravated a knee injury that slowed him down in his semifinal loss — it ended up being his last match of the season. He placed sixth after being forced to medically forfeit his opportunities to wrestle for third or fifth. He enters the year ranked fourth at 132 by The Guillotine.
Owen Denstad, junior, Caledonia/Houston
Denstad won a Section 1A title, went 46-5 and was a Class A state semifinalist last year. He rebounded from a loss in the semifinals to eventual champion Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa senior Walker Bents — who claimed his second title and fourth top three finish — with a third-place finish at 132. Denstad is now a two-time state entrant. He enters the season ranked as the No. 2 ranked 132-pounder in Class A by The Guillotine.
Calder Sheehan, sophomore, Mayo
A ball of energy, Sheehan is the reincarnation of the Energizer Bunny. He simply does not quit. He had a great freshman campaign — one that saw him go 39-9 and a Class AAA state quarterfinalist. The now two-time state entrant just missed out on a chance for a state medal, losing by sudden victory. He is coming off a good fall where he was a stellar defensive back for the state-qualifying Mayo football team.
Kail Schott, junior, Chatfield
Schott had a scary situation last April when he collided with four draft horses that were illegally in the roadway while on his way to morning weightlifting. He suffered a pair of fractured vertebrae in his neck and internal bleeding. He was told he would never compete in sports again, but the injury healed correctly and after physical therapy was cleared to play football and wrestling. He was a key part in the Chatfield football team's state championship appearance. Kail’s brother Grady won a state title last year and credited Kail for pushing him throughout the season. Kail won a Section 1A championship and titles at the Mike Fasnacht Memorial and Flanagan Invitational but was a tad disappointed that he didn’t place at the Class A state tournament. Schott is ranked No. 5 at 182 by The Guillotine and also enters with a chip on his shoulder this season. In fact, the Gophers as a whole have some extra motivation. They just missed out on a Section 1A team title, falling in the last match to Dover-Eyota 33-30 and have a number of high-ranked individuals.
Lauren Elsmore, freshman, Pine Island
As just an eighth-grader, Elsmore etched her name into the history books by finishing second at 100 pounds in the first ever MSHSL girls state wrestling tournament. She had one heck of an offseason while representing Pinnacle Wrestling Club. She won the U14, 97-pound division at the 2022 United States Marine Corps Women’s Nationals in May and is ranked No. 2 in the state at 100 pounds by the Guillotine.
Tytan Small, senior, St. Charles
Small showed great resilience last year, bouncing back from a first-round defeat at state, before winning three of his next four matches to place fifth at 182 in Class A. He went 39-13 and is also a two-time all-district linebacker for the Saints football team.
Joseph Kennedy, sophomore, Kasson-Mantorville
Whether it was Kennedy, Dominic Mann or Luke Swanson, one could have picked a number of fellow KoMets for this spot, but it’s Kennedy that gets the nod after he really found his groove when the calendar flipped to 2022. He placed fourth at the well-respected Cheesehead Invitational in northeast Wisconsin, before becoming a key member for the KoMets Class AA state runner-up team. He was also an individual state-qualifier at 132 and finished the season 39-15. He kept that momentum going into the offseason placing second in the 16U Cadet division at the MNUSA Kids State Freestyle, before placing third at the USAW Northern Plains Regional at 138. He also competed at the MN/USAW Cadet and Junior National Camp in the summer as well.
Brodie Kellen, senior, Dover-Eyota
Kellen enters the season ranked as the top 152-pounder in Class A after a year that saw him collect his second consecutive state medal with a sixth-place finish at 145. He’s another one that had a busy offseason, placing third at the MNUSA Forest Lake Freestyle Open and participated at the MN/USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National Camp. He and Gust are a big reason why the Eagles have their sights set on another Section 1A team championship.
Gavin Peterson, junior, Cannon Falls
The Cannon Falls junior is a two-time state qualifier and went 45-8 last season, but is still in search of his first medal. He appears poised to break through this season. He recently competed at the USA Wrestling Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, going 2-2 with a first round bye.
Jaiden Johnson, senior, Kenyon-Wanamingo
Johnson is a leader for a Kenyon-Wanamingo team that is a sleeper pick in the talented Section 1A. The now senior went 40-6 last year, reaching state for the first time after placing second to Chatfield’s Kail Schott in Section 1A. He is ranked as the third best 170-pounder in Class A entering the season.
Tucker Ginther, senior, Caledonia/Houston
Ginther was cruising last year until a kick to the face in February resulted in a broken nose that led to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). He still qualified for state for a fourth time. He enters his senior season as the top-ranked 145-pounder in Class A.