Monticello qualified five wrestlers for the Class AA state tournament during this weekend’s Section 6AA meet held at Becker High School.
A talented and tough section kept the Magic from reaching their goal of sending seven or eight wrestlers, but Coach Andy Zigan said the Magic wrestled well, overall.
“We were glad that we got five guys qualified. We were hoping for more, but that’s the way it shook out,” Zigan said, pointing to the quality and depth of the section. “There were a lot of guys at each weight that were good candidates.”
The Magic had two wrestlers (Tevin Zavadil and Jake Berthiaume) win section championships, while three others (Zach Beaumaster, Carter Barnes and Brent Riddle) finished in second-place and earned state bids.
Monticello’s other top finishers included Jack Bourgeois, who finished third at 126 pounds, Luke Palmer (third at 195 pounds) and Jay Yeats (fourth at 220 pounds).
Zavadil got the Magic started on the state-bound path, winning the 120 pound weight class.
Zavadil, who has been brilliant all year and picked up his hundredth win just last week, cruised into the finals. The senior had a first round bye, before winning his next two matches by a technical fall (17-2) and a first-period pin. In the final match, squaring off with another wrestler from Annandale/Maple Lake, Zavadil won his first section championship with a 6-3 decision, reaching another milestone that he said was important to him.
“I didn’t make it two years ago, and last year I was runner up,” said Zavadil. “I like to get one better every year. And, it’s kind of a confidence boost.”
Berthiaume also has reason to be confident after cutting through a tough section to his second section championship. Wrestling at 145 pounds, Berthiaume advanced through the first two rounds on a bye and a second-period pin.
In the semifinals, he earned a hard-fought 3-1 decision, sending him to the final match. In the finals, Berthiaume won another low-scoring match, picking up a 5-2 decision to earn a good seed at the upcoming state tournament.
“I think it’s a confidence boost,” said Berthiaume, about finishing first in a section with some top teams and individuals. “If you can get out of a section like that, you know you can beat a bunch of tough kids.”
At 138 pounds, Beaumaster picked up a school-record fifth state tournament bid.
Like Berthiaume, Beaumaster advanced to the semifinals via a bye and a pin. In the semifinals, he too won a low-scoring match. His was a 1-0 decision, putting him in the finals vs. an opponent from New London Spicer. In that match, Beaumaster came up just short, falling 5-3 in overtime. But with the third-place opponent being a wrestler Beaumaster had already beat in the tournament, his spot at state was secured.
Carter Barnes continued Monticello’s dominating run through the middle weights with a second-place finish at 152 pounds. The unorthodox style wrestler advanced to the quarterfinals with a bye, then picked up second-period pins in his next two matches to move into the finals. He fell in the finals to the top-ranked wrestler from Foley, but like Beaumaster was assured a spot at state without wrestling for true second.
Monticello’s last qualifier came from the heavyweight class, where Brent Riddle earned a runner-up finish. The junior, a fan favorite, got a first round bye. In the second round, Riddle got his opponent on his back in less than a minute, earning a pin just 45 seconds into the match. Riddle then picked up a 5-2 decision in the semifinals, granting him a spot in the finals, where he fell to the top-ranked wrestler from Foley by a first-period fall. Like Beaumaster and Barnes, Riddle had beat the third-place wrestler and was not forced to wrestle for true second.
“I’m very happy,” said Berthiaume, one of three captains, along with Zavadil and Beaumaster. “Team wise, it was fun to watch. I think we had a pretty good tournament.”
”Good things happen your senior year,” Zigan said. “These guys have all been there before, they know the drill.”
Beaumaster, making his fifth appearance, said the feeling of going to state has changed each year.
“I’ve definitely felt more confident every time I’ve went down,” he said. “In eighth grade, it was intimidating. Last year, it was just like a normal tournament.”
One thing the Magic wrestlers have learned with experience is that the first match is the most important of the whole tournament. Win and it becomes a double elimination tournament, lose and your fate is out of your hands.
“[You have to] wrestle the first one like it’s your finals,” said Zavadil, who along with Riddle and Berthiaume lost in the first round last year and was eliminated when his opponent lost their next match.
“They all have their own personal expectations,” said Zigan. “We want them all to win that first match and take it from there.”
Those personal expectations range from top three for Zavadil and Berthiaume to a state championship for Beaumaster.
The pressure that comes with those expectations, counteracts the comfort that comes with experience.
“There’s actually a lot of pressure,” admitted Beaumaster. “My expectation is to reach the top, so I don’t want to let myself down, or, others.”
The seniors are also dealing with the realization that this is their last go at the state tournament, and high school wrestling.
“It hits your heart a little bit, knowing it’s your last shot at it,” said Zavadil.
Berthiaume agreed, and said it’s just added motivation to make this last run memorable.
“It makes you feel like you’ve got to make it count,” he said.
The Class AA Individual State Tournament begins at 11 a.m. Friday. Wrestling continues throughout the day on Friday and Saturday. Third- and fifth-place matches are scheduled for approximately 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with championship matches scheduled to follow at 7 p.m. All state tournament matches are held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at email@example.com