ST. PAUL -- Brainerd wrestler Andy Pickar is in familiar territory.
One year after finishing runner-up in the state tournament, Pickar is in the state Class 3A final at 140 pounds and looking to improve his finish.
"I've always had my goals set high," Pickar said. "I don't like to lose."
That much was evident after he dispatched Simley's David Donnelly 7-1 in the semifinals Friday at the Xcel Energy Center. Pickar scored a takedown in the first period and used a near-side cradle to add two more points for a 4-0 lead. After a scoreless second period, Pickar chose down, escaped and recorded another takedown to lead 7-0 before surrendering an escape for the final score.
"We know Simley is a front headlock team, so one of our strategies was to make sure we took our shots from an inside position and didn't get our heads down on the mat," Brainerd assistant coach John Spartz said. "It didn't seem as though the Simley guy wanted to wrestle on his feet and when we got him on the mat he kind of clammed up. It also helped that this is Andy's fourth trip to state. He expects nothing less than a state championship."
A state title is something Pickar has been thinking about since finishing second last season.
"As a coaching staff, we said, 'Second is good,'" Spartz said. "(Andy) said, 'No it's not. Second is not fun.'"
Pickar attributes his success to wrestling his own style rather than letting his opponent dictate the pace of the match. He also likes to out-condition his opponents by going strong late in the match when they have run out of gas.
"During practice, I push myself," Pickar said. "Me, my brother (Dustin) and a couple other guys in the room push ourselves to work harder. It's helped us a lot."
Brainerd's Vince Sellnow dropped his 103-pound semifinal match as Josh Hansen of Albert Lea handled Sellnow 14-7. Hansen scored a takedown off the opening whistle, put Sellnow to his back and never looked back.
"The kid is obviously tough with one loss, but we have a couple of big moves," Spartz said. "Style-wise, I think we're a better wrestler as far as moves, but in the semifinals of state if you get caught on your back, it's pretty tough to come back."
Ironically, Sellnow had beaten the finalist from the other side of the bracket, Ryan Adams of Coon Rapids, by a score of 12-4 earlier this season.
Sellnow (25-2) took on Jayson Ness of Bloomington Kennedy in the consolation semifinals Saturday. Ness sports a 30-12 record.
Pickar (36-3) faced Henry Sibley's Adam Rall, who holds a mark of 38-5, in the finals Saturday. He will look to follow in the footsteps of Jesse Marohn, who won the Class 3A 130-pound title for the Warriors last season.
"Everybody wants to be a state champ," Pickar said. "You set your mind to it and it's there for anybody to take."
Area Class 3A individual results
103 -- Josh Hansen (Albert Lea Area) dec. Vince Sellnow (Brainerd) 14-7, Sellnow vs. Jayson Ness (Bloomington Kennedy, 30-12) in consolation semifinals Saturday.
112 -- Josh Fillbrandt (Centennial) pinned Konrad Abramo (Brainerd) 2:53, Abramo eliminated.
130 -- Trevor Brady (Little Falls) dec. Mark Spaude (Hutchinson) 4-1, Eric Leeseberg (Robbinsdale Cooper) won by injury default against Brady, Brady eliminated.
140 -- Andy Pickar (Brainerd) dec. David Donnelly (Simley) 7-1, Pickar vs. Adam Rall (Henry Sibley, 38-5) in state final Saturday; Dallas Hasser (Cambridge-Isanti) dec. Matthew Boser (Little Falls) 5-0, Boser eliminated.
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