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2011 InterMat JJ Classic Recap

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ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Fredy Stroker entered Saturday's InterMat JJ Classic on ranked among the nation's top 20 freshmen before ever donning a high school wrestling singlet.

Fredy Stroker (Photo/The Guillotine)
The 15-year-old Stroker, who attends Bettendorf High School in Iowa, showed why he is so highly regarded by defeating three state placewinners, including a Cadet National finalist and a two-time state champion, en route to capturing the JJ Classic title at 113 pounds.

Stroker used lightning-quick attacks, strong scrambling, and a poise that far exceeds his age to roll through his competition. He pinned state third-place finisher Joey Majerus (Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Minn.) in the quarterfinals. Then he came from behind to defeat top-seeded Tristan Manderfeld (Foley, Minn.), 7-4, in the semifinals. Stroker capped off his tournament by defeating two-time state champion Jordan Shearer (West Fargo, N.D.), 3-1, in the championship match.

Three Gopher recruits win titles, Brancale named OW

Three seniors who have committed to the University of Minnesota, Sam Brancale (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Brandon Kingsley (Apple Valley, Minn.), and Michael Kroells (Scott West, Minn.), claimed titles at the JJ Classic.

Sam Brancale (Photo/The Guillotine)
Brancale, who is ranked as the nation's No. 56 overall recruit, cruised to the championship at 132 pounds, a weight class that included three state champions and several state placewinners. He recorded three pins en route to reaching the semifinals. Brancale then won 9-2 over two-time state placewinner Taner Trembley (LCWM, Minn.) in the semifinals, before winning by the identical score of 9-2 in the finals over state champion Mitchel Lexvold (Kenyon Wanamingo, Minn.). Brancale was voted Outstanding Wrestler of this year's JJ Classic.

Kingsley, a three-time state champion and No. 6 overall recruit, registered two pins and two decisions on his way to capturing the title at 152 pounds. He was pushed in the semifinals by eighth-grade phenom Mason Manville (South County, Va.), who is ranked as the No. 3 junior high wrestler in the country, but prevailed for the 4-2 victory. Kingsley's victory in the finals came over Adam Cooling (Madelia/Truman/Martin Luther, Minn.), 5-0.

Kroells, an undefeated state champion last season, showed why he is among the nation's top big men by pinning Sam Stoll (Kasson-Mantorville, Minn.), a Cadet National double champion and the nation's No. 12 sophomore, to take the title at heavyweight.

Three Apple Valley wrestlers finish on top

Three Apple Valley wrestlers won titles at the JJ Classic. No other program produced more than one champion. Apple Valley's titlists included Kingsley (152), Seth Gross (126), and Mark Hall (145).

Seth Gross (Photo/The Guillotine)
Gross, a Cadet National freestyle champion this past summer, was dominant throughout the tournament. He won his opening match by pin, and then outscored his remaining three opponents 32-5. He defeated Northern Plains Cadet freestyle champion Ben Brancale (Eden Prairie, Minn.), 8-2, in the championship match.

Hall, who is ranked as the nation's No. 1 junior high wrestler, defeated Weston Droegemueller (Wayzata, Minn.), 7-0, to take the title at 145 pounds.

Nation's No. 20 freshman wins at 182

Lance Benick (Totino Grace, Minn.), the nation's No. 20 freshman, won his first JJ Classic title at 182 pounds, beating Corbin Farrell (Apple Valley, Minn.), 5-2, in the championship match. Benick outscored his opponents 31-11 throughout the tournament. He is coming off a summer in which he went undefeated at the Schoolboy National Duals and 15-1 at the AAU Junior Olympics.

Rodriguez knocks off red-hot Sykora to win title at 106

Dante' Rodriguez (Photo/The Guillotine)
Dante' Rodriguez (Grand Island, Nebr.), a Junior National Greco-Roman runner-up, put together an impressive string of victories to claim the title at 106 pounds. Rodriguez, who was fifth at the 2010 JJ Classic, was dominant in his first three matches, picking up two pins and a major decision. Then in the semifinals he edged state runner-up Tanner Johnshoy (Prior Lake, Minn.), 3-2. (Johnshoy won the award for most pins in the least amount of time.) Rodriguez then capped off his tournament by beating red-hot Cameron Sykora (Border West, Minn.), a 2011 Grappler Fall Classic champion, 4-2. Prior to the finals Sykora, a state champion, had outscored his opponents 37-2 and picked up a pin in under a minute.

Koethe defeats Sullivan in barnburner at 160

In perhaps the most action-filled finals match, Justin Koethe (Iowa City West, Iowa) defeated Ben Sullivan (Apple Valley, Minn.), 10-7, in a barnburner at 160 pounds. Sullivan, an NHSCA Junior National finalist, scored the first two takedowns of the match off leg attacks, and took a 4-2 lead into the second period. Koethe, a five-time Fargo All-American, battled back, scoring two takedowns of his own in the second period to tie the score at 7-7 heading into the third period. Koethe added an escape and a late takedown to win 10-7.

Kuefner becomes first two-time JJ Classic champion

Coyte Kuefner (Owatonna, Minn.) pinned Cody Linssen (Park, Minn.), a Minnesota Ninth Grade League state champion, to claim the title at 220 pounds and become the first two-time JJ Classic champion. Kuefner, a two-time Junior National folkstyle All-American, won his title last year at 215 pounds.

Eleven No. 1 seeds win titles

Of the 14 champions crowned on Saturday, 11 were No. 1 seeds. In addition to top seeds Gross, Brancale, Hall, Kingsley, Koethe, Kuefner, and Kroells winning titles, Josh Alber (Dakota, Ill.), Marcus Peterson (Clarion-Goldfield, Iowa), Cody Anderson (White Bear Lake, Minn.), and Alex Gray (Maple Grove, Minn.) lived up to their No. 1 seeds.

Josh Alber (Photo/The Guillotine)
Alber, an undefeated state champion and Cadet National freestyle All-American, surrendered only four points in five matches to win the title at 120 pounds. His victory in the finals came over Andres Gonzales (Mason City, Iowa), 3-1.

Peterson defeated Kyle McKenzie (La Crosse Logan, Wis.), 9-1, to win the championship at 138 pounds.

Anderson, a JJ Classic runner-up in 2010, won 7-3 over Alex Jackson in the finals at 170 pounds.

Gray pinned Schoen Kichler (Waconia, Minn.) to claim the title at 195 pounds.

Tough break for bracket-buster Riggs

Freshman Austin Riggs (Robinson, Va.) entered the JJ Classic unseeded at 120 pounds and notched the first major upset of the tournament when he knocked off second-seeded Zack Kuhns (Maple River, Minn.), 4-0, in the opening round. Riggs went on to pin his next two opponents in the first period to advance to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Riggs suffered an injury and was forced to default out of the tournament.

Seventh-grader Shearer places fifth at 106

Jesse Shearer (West Fargo, N.D.) was the lone seventh-grader to place at the JJ Classic. Shearer dropped his opening match, but went on to win five of his next six matches to place fifth at 106 pounds.

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