Hall makes history by winning combined 12 state titles

This past weekend in Minnesota, it was a tale of two tournaments for Apple Valley. In Thursday's dual team tournament, the No. 15 Eagles upended No. 19 St. Michael-Albertville 31-26 for an 11th straight state title. (These two teams did share the title in 2013 after the final dual meet was tied.)

Through 10 weight classes, St. Michael-Albertville held a 21-20 lead despite only winning four bouts. Those wins came through a pin from No. 8 Patrick McKee (106), a pin from No. 5 Mitch McKee (138), a pin from No. 13 Jake Allar (152), and a 4-2 decision from Garrett Ailts (170). The McKee's and Allar pinned weak links in the Apple Valley lineup, while Ailts beat Tony Watts in a battle of state alternates (Watts bumping up from 160).

Apple Valley countered with a 3-2 win from Nate Larson (113), a 17-3 major decision from Sebas Swiggum (120), a 7-3 decision from Kyle Rathman (126), a 9-1 major decision from Devin Roberts (138), a 3-1 decision from Jalen Thul (145), and an 8-3 decision from Brock Morgan (160). Larson earned his victory in a battle of state placers against Zach Nygaard, Rathman earned his in a battle of state qualifiers against Zach Dehmer, state alternate Roberts beat state qualifier Cody Schoen, state placer Thul bumped up a weight to beat state qualifier Wyatt Bice, while state placer Morgan bumped up a weight class to beat state qualifier Donie Leuer.

Mark Hall celebrates after pinning Lucas Jeske in the state team competition (Photo/The Guillotine)
The key moment in the dual meet came at 182 pounds, where Apple Valley presented Mark Hall, the nation's top wrestler at 170 pounds. St. Michael-Albertville chose to send out No. 10 Lucas Jeske, instead of bumping him off of Hall. It was a baffling strategy, though one theory would be that Jeske could hold Hall to a decision or major decision to set up the dual meet's end game.

It ended up being an unmitigated disaster for the Knights. Hall scored the pin at 1:56, and when Jeske threw his head-gear after the match, there was a team point deduction to boot. The dual meet score was now 26-20 in favor of Apple Valley, Apple Valley won its seventh match, and would also have criteria in case of a tie (even before considering a possible eighth win). With Gable Steveson, the nation's top overall sophomore, still to wrestle - St. Michael-Albertville needed a total miracle.

Another "interesting" move was to send out reserve wrestler Max Jensen at 195 against Prince Hyemang, a state qualifier at 182 pounds. That meant state placer Evan Ronsen would have to be used against Steveson. Jensen did get a 4-3 decision victory to cut the deficit to 26-23. However, Apple Valley then sent Steveson out at 220, where he got the match-clinching 20-4 technical fall over Ronsen. In the dual meet's final match, Evan Foster (state runner-up to Steveson) earned a 3-2 decision over state qualifier Tanyi Besong.

The following two days were the individual bracket tournament, where in Class AAA, St. Michael-Albertville won the unofficial points race over Apple Valley. The lone state titles for the team state champion Eagles were earned by No. 1 Mark Hall (170) and No. 1 Gable Steveson (220). It was a sixth individual state tournament title for Hall (to go along with his six team titles), the first ever to accomplish this feat in Minnesota. Hall earned pins in his opening two bouts, followed by technical falls by scores of 15-0 and 16-1.

Four others placed for Apple Valley: Brock Morgan (152) finished as runner-up, Sebas Swiggum (120) earned third, Nate Larson (113) placed fourth, and Jalen Thul (138) placed fifth.

No. 13 Jake Allar (152) was one of three state champions for St. Michael-Albertville (Photo/The Guillotine)
The individuals from St. Michael-Albertville were the standouts in the big-school division as five were in the state finals bout. Winning titles were No. 8 Patrick McKee (106), No. 5 Mitch McKee (138), and No. 13 Jake Allar (152). Patrick beat a pair of state ranked wrestler to earn his title, 5-3 over No. 18 Israel Navarro (Wilmar) in the semifinal and 9-4 over No. 4 Aaron Cashman (Mound Westonka) in the state final; Mitch had a pin and a technical fall sandwiched around two major decisions; while Allar beat Morgan 3-0 for his title.

Finishing as runners-up for the Knights were No. 10 Lucas Jeske (182) and Evan Foster (220). Returning state champion Jeske lost by 12-3 major decision to 2013 state champion Taylor Venz (Farmington), an opponent he had beaten 6-4 in a dual meet two months earlier; while Foster lost by technical fall to Steveson. Other placers for St. Michael-Albertville were Evan Ronsen (195) in fifth and Zach Nygaard (113) in sixth.

Farmington, Owatonna, and Shakopee also had multiple champions in Class AAA. Victor Gliva (113) joined Venz as state champion for Farmington; Peyton Robb (120) was a repeat champion while Brandon Moen (195) improved upon two previous third place finishes for Owatonna; and Brent Jones (126) won a third state title with Alex Lloyd (145) winning his first for Shakopee. Also winning a state title was No. 20 Andrew Piehl (Rogers) at 285.

Watch Mark Hall win his sixth individual state championship ...


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