The showcase event of Minnesota's regular season in high school wrestling happened the last two days in Rochester, as the Minnesota Christmas Tournament featured 40 teams. It includes the vast majority of Minnesota's best teams, plus a few teams from out of state (Illinois, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma). After the two days of wrestling were completed, a mere five points (204.5-199.5) separated a pair of top 25 teams in the country.
Despite just having nine wrestlers (six in the quarters) remaining after day one, No. 21 Simley surged on day two to put a tournament-high eight on the podium. And that was with Greg Kerkvliet (285) and two-time state medalist Cael Berg (138) out of the lineup. The Spartans were led by weight class champion Ryan Sokol (132), who scored a 20-5 technical fall over state champion Noah Villarreal (Aurora Christian, Ill.) in the championship match.
Also placing for Simley were three third place finishers, including Cadet freestyle champion Quayin Short (182), whose lone loss was a 7-4 defeat against state champion Cade King (Owatonna). Other medalists were those taking fourth, fifth, seventh, and eight.
Tournament runner-up Kasson-Mantorville was ranked No. 25 nationally, and started day two with twelve wrestlers, including nine in the quarters. The Komets only had six of those wrestlers place (in fact three wrestlers from the quarters went 0-2 on Saturday morning). Leading the way was their lone champion No. 4 (at 182) Patrick Kennedy, who won the 170 pound weight class with a 19-4 technical fall victory over state champion Cade Mueller (Waconia) in the final.
Two additional Komets - Logan Vaughan (113) and Garsen Schorr (220) - placed second; while other wrestlers placed third, fourth, and fifth.
Finishing in third was Shakopee with 176 points, as the Sabres also had six on the podium, even without the presence of No. 7 Carson Manville in the lineup at 152 pounds. Their lone champion was Paxton Creese (113), while Pierson Manville (106) placed second, three others placed fourth, and another finished sixth.
Just two teams had multiple champions at this year's Minnesota Christmas Tournament. One of those was fourth place Willmar, who saw No. 15 Cael Carlson (145) and Andrew Reigstad (220) earn gold; Carlson beat state runner-up Sebas Swiggum (Apple Valley) 5-1 in the championship match. Others placers were runner-up Lincoln Shinn (195) and a sixth place finisher.
The other team with multiple champions was Scott West, who saw Tyler Shackle (138) and Calvin Menke (285) win their respective weight classes.
Nationally ranked Apple Valley, currently No. 46, was fifth in the standings with 166.5 points on the strength of six placers, led by weight class champion Brady Gross (152). Finishing second were Swiggum and Tyler Kim (285); two more placed sixth, and another placed seventh.
Three additional nationally ranked wrestlers won weight classes on Saturday; No. 1 Eric Barnett (Hortonville, Wis.) at 120, No. 13 Jake Svihel (Totino-Grace) at 126, and No. 13 Zach Glazier (Albert Lea) at 182. Barnett beat state champion Joey Thompson (Totino-Grace) 10-3 in the final, Svihel knocked off two-time state champion Reid Ballantyne (Stillwater) 5-2, while Glazier outlasted state champion Cade King (Owatonna) 3-2.
Rounding out the champions were Blake West (Owatonna) at 106 pounds, Colby Njos (Anoka) at 160, and Calvin Sund (Prior Lake) at 195.