3/1/2018 3:16:00 PM Bombard and Labelle heading to state
As we all know, sometimes good things come in small packages. For the Viking wrestling program, this means wrestlers at the two lowest weights earned the right to go to this weekend’s state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Eighth-graders Ashton LaBelle (106) and Brandt Bombard (113) will both be headed to state for the first time after finishing second at last weekend’s Section 4AA individual tournament. The tournament was held Friday, February 22 and Saturday, March 23 at South St. Paul High School. The Class AA individual matches at the Xcel begins Friday at 9 a.m.
LaBelle opened the section tournament with a 6-2 decision over William Holst of Mahtomedi in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, LaBelle was matched up against Dason Thomas of Minnehaha-DeLaSalle, who was ranked earlier this year. Viking assistant coach Kyle Kahl said “the concept going into this match was for Ashton to stay low and stay in position in order to beat this kid. Ashton executed the plan the whole match and it was awesome to see.” LaBelle got a takedown in the first period and another in the second for four points and then held off Thomas enough for a 4-3 win. In the championship match, LaBelle lost to Ernesto Espino-Sanchez of South St. Paul 9-3. Thomas won the third place match, and since LaBelle had already beaten Thomas that day, LaBelle did not have to wrestle Thomas again for True Second. LaBelle was awarded second place by rule and is on his way to the state tournament.
In his opening match, Bombard made quick work of Cullen Ford of St. Paul Highland Park, pinning Ford in just 14 seconds. In the quarterfinals, Bombard pinned Gerrick Beasley of St. Paul Como Park with three seconds left in the first period to advance to the semifinals. Bombard continued his rampage through his half of the bracket by pinning second-seeded Hunter Wilsey of Mahtomedi at 1:31 in the semifinals to earn a spot in the championship match against Roman Cortez of South St. Paul. Bombard took Cortez down twice in the first two periods and led 4-1 going into the third period. Bombard maintained his lead till the last 30 seconds of the period, when Cortez threw Bombard to his back for a takedown. Cortez was also awarded a three point near fall at the end and won 6-4, sending Bombard to a True Second match against senior Jake Novack of Chisago Lakes. Novack came out aggressively and Bombard ended up with a couple of defensive takedowns to take the lead and held on for a 7-4 win and a trip to state. “That was a stressful one to sit through,” said Kahl. “Novack really came after Brandt in the first period and Brandt stuck to basics and weathered the storm. After the first period, Brandt calmed down, took a breath and executed his plan. But he didn’t relax until it was over at the very end. Novack is a very tough wrestler.”
At 138, Reid Lawrence of Mahtomedi stood in the way of Viking sophomore Austin Sonnek’s second straight trip to the state tournament. Sonnek pinned Fue Her of St. Paul Johnson in the quarterfinals. But Lawrence pinned Sonnek at 3:46 in their semifinal match, sending Sonnek to the wrestlebacks. Sonnek pinned Thaw Po of St Paul Humboldt-Open World Learning early in the third period to advance to the third place match against Christian Huonder of St. Croix Lutheran. Sonnek pinned Huonder at 2:49 for his third pin of the day. But Lawrence lost the championship match and since he and Sonnek had already wrestled, there was no True Second match. Sonnek had fallen just short of going to state for the second year in a row.
Junior Brandon Swanson (285) was the top seed going into sections, but an illness derailed any chance he had of going to state. After being awarded a win by injury default in the quarterfinals, Swanson faced Gabby Brito of South St. Paul in the semifinals. Swanson threw Brito early in the match, but didn’t have the energy to do much after that and Brito pinned him at 3:35. Swanson was done for the day. Kahl said “Brandon had a frustrating season. He had a knee injury earlier in the year and illness has knocked him down the last three weeks.” It was a disappointing end to the season for Swanson, who will be one of the top seeds in the section again next year.
LaBelle (34-8) will take on freshman Lucas Jagodzinske (41-3) of Fairmont/Martin County West in the opening round. Jagodzinske is ranked second in the state. Bombard (32-11) will open up against senior Jared Johnson (39-3) of Kasson-Mantorville. Johnson is also ranked second in the state.