ST. PAUL - Imposing opponents awaited each of the area's Class 1A championship contenders Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Zak Lambert (125 pounds) and Sam Moenkedick (160), both of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale, and Jordan Bendson (145) of Staples-Motley wrestled the top-ranked individuals in their class for the title.
Lambert was the only one to emerge victorious, upsetting top-ranked Jason Sunderman of LeSueur-Henderson 9-8 in a match where they threw each other all around the mat.
Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's 125-pounder Zak Lambert had control of Jason Sunderman of LeSuer-Henderson in their Class 1A championship match Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
The ninth-ranked B-H/V senior led 6-3 after two periods, but had to break an 8-8 tie with an escape in the final 20 seconds for his title.
Lambert credited teammate Ethan Kern for preparing him all year for this moment.
"I had a great practice partner," Lambert said. "He pushed me all year long. I just stayed aggressive, and did what I've been doing against (Kern). Ethan was ranked first in the state all year. That helped a ton."
The championship was an emotional moment for B-H/V first-year head coach Mike Barthel, who had tears streaming down his cheeks after the victory.
Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's Sam Moenkedick (left) blocked an attempted take down by Matthew Afaar of LeSuer-Henderson in their 160-pound championship match Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"He's my first state champion, I couldn't be prouder," Barthel said. "He wrestled his heart out. He's been confident all postseason.
"We knew he could do it, he knew he could do it and he just showed it. We're pretty excited for him."
At 145 pounds, the unheralded Bendson had a difficult time against top-ranked Torey Stewart of Jackson County Central, getting pinned at 3:20. Stewart, a senior, dominated the Cardinals' sophomore, who did everything he could to avoid getting pinned.
"He's had a lot of overtime matches," Cardinals coach Gordy Thompson said. "He wrestled a lot of tough kids. He's won some, and lost some. As the year went on he gained some steam, he gained some confidence.
"You've got to give (Stewart) credit, a first-year sophomore against a senior who's been here and done that, he was not going to let Jordan win."
Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale's Zak Lambert celebrated his Class 1A 125-pound championship Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
At 160 pounds, B-H/V's seventh-ranked senior Sam Moenkedick labored to generate any offense against top-ranked Matthew Pfaar, also of LeSueur-Henderson. After a scoreless first, Pfaar took a 4-1 lead and finished with a 6-2 decision.
"He had really long arms, a long body," Barthel said of Pfaar. "He kept us away. He wouldn't let us get in on him. It was tough to score when we got out there and we gave up a takedown on a scramble. It's a tough way to end the season but he had a good career and I'm proud of him."
At 171, Aitkin's Matt Christensen, ranked No. 2, nipped third-ranked Alex Bach of Maple River 2-1 for third place.
Finishing fifth were Ethan Kern (119) of B-H/V and Trey VanOrsdel (140) of Wadena-Deer Creek.
Staples-Motley's 145-pounder Jordan Bendson (right) kept Torey Stewart of Jackson County Central from gaining control in their championship match Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Sixth place went to Clint Poster of Pierz (112) and Matt Moenkedick (171) of B-H/V.
1A championship matches
125: Zak Lambert (BHV) dec. Jason Sunderman (LeSueur-Henderson) 9-8
145: Torey Stewart (Jackson County Central) pinned Jordan Bendson (SM) 3:20
160: Matthew Pfarr (LeSueur-Henderson) dec. Sam Moenkedick (BHV) 6-2
Class 1A individuals
Highlights: B-H/V's Zak Lambert won the 125-pound title and Jordan Bendson of Staples-Motley and B-H/V's Sam Moenkedick were runners-up.
1A third-place match
171: Matt Christensen (Aitkin) dec. Alex Bach (Maple River) 2-1
1A fifth-place matches
112: Grant Hegge (Southland) Clint Poster (Pierz) 10-6
119: Ethan Kern (BHV) pinned Austin Peters (Medford) 3:56
140: Trey VanOrsdel (WDC) pinned Erik Cole (Zumbrota-Mezeppa) 1:00
171: Ben McPhail (Pine Island) dec. Matt Moenkedick (BHV) 9-6
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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