3/10/2023 1:05:00 PM Logan Bender earns a podium finish at state wrestling
In his second trip to the state wrestling tournament, Wildcat sophomore Logan Bender (195) got to the podium, finishing sixth in Class AA. Junior Michael Amos (152) and sophomore Connor Frederixon (220) also represented the Wildcats at this year’s tournament, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul last weekend.
Bender (28-9) opened the tournament against senior Tyson Ricker (45-4) of Becker, the number one seed from Section 6AA. Neither wrestler had anything close to a takedown in the first period. In the second period, Ricker chose down. Bender fought off an early reversal attempt by Ricker. Ricker escaped midway through the period to go up 1-0, and got a takedown at 3:15 to go up 3-0. Bender actively tried to escape for the rest of the period. Bender chose down in the third period. Ricker got a three-point near fall early in the period and completed a pin at 4:35 for the win.
Ricker won his next match, so that put Bender up against senior Eli Richardson (37-11) of Kasson-Mantorville in the wrestlebacks. Bender pinned Richardson at 2:59. Next up for Bender was senior Payton Garza (30-7) of Waseca, and Bender pinned Garza at 2:59. Bender then went up against senior Bo Flagstad (39-10) of St. Francis, with the winner going on to the third place match. Flagstad pinned Bender at 3:42, sending Bender to the fifth-place match, where he would meet up with Ricker for the second time in the tournament.
Just like in their first meeting in the tournament, neither wrestler scored in the first period. Bender chose down in the second period and spent much of the period trying to avoid getting pinned. After Ricker got two two-point near falls to go up 2-0, Bender escaped with just under a minute to go in the period. But Riker got a takedown, a three-point near fall and a two-point near fall to lead 11-1 after two periods. Ricker chose top in the third period, and won the match by technical fall after his second three-point near fall of the period at 5:04.
Amos (18-15) faced junior Cael Olson (40-10) of Section 2AA Delano in his opening match. Amos did a nice job fending off an early takedown attempt by Olson. Amos was working on a takedown attempt of his own late in the period, but Olson turned it to his advantage and got a takedown with 13 seconds left in the period to go up 2-0. Amos chose neutral in the second period. Olson executed a takedown at 2:48 but Amos was able to avoid giving up any near fall points and trailed 4-0 going into the third period. Olson chose down in the third period. Amos rode him hard but couldn’t turn him. Amos cut Olson loose for an escape at 5:07, needing a pin to win the match. Amos took a late shot but didn’t complete it, and Olson got a takedown at 5:58 to complete a 7-0 decision over Amos. Olson lost his next match, so Amos did not get a chance to wrestle a second match. His tournament was done.
Frederixon (28-12) opened up against senior Gavin Gerhard (32-6) of Section 5AA Fridley. Frederixon grabbed Gerhard from behind about 15 seconds into the match and took him to the mat, but Gerhard rolled out of it and ended up on top for a takedown of Frederixon at 0:22. Gerhard was awarded a two-point near fall at 1:19. Frederixon got a reversal at 1:41 and trailed 4-2 after one period. Gerhard chose down in the second period. Frederixon worked actively to turn Gerhard, but Gerhard got a reversal at 2:30 to go up 6-2 and rode out Frederixon for the rest of the period. Frederixon chose down in the third period. He stood up at 4:30, but Gerhard hauled him back down and rode him. Frederixon escaped with two seconds left in the match, making the final score 6-3 in favor of Gerhard.
Gerhard lost his next match, eliminating Frederixon from the wrestlebacks.
Wildcat interim head coach Dave Hinsch said “All three wrestlers had good tourneys. Michael and Connor were eliminated because they lost and then their opponents lost the next match. That’s why winning that first match is so vitally important. Both Michael and Connor competed well. Connor was a bit undersized for his opponent. I think Connor could actually beat that kid, and I think Connor does, too. We thought Michael would get a second match. His opponent was tied going into overtime in his second match and nearly got a takedown for the win, but ended up losing the match. The beauty of it for all three of our guys in that they are underclassmen and will get another shot at it next year.”
Hinsch talked about Bender’s performance. He said “Logan had a good tourney. After he lost the first match, we changed the game plan and he got more physical. He didn’t hold back and it got him into the medal round. He had a good first period in the fifth place match. We chose down in the second period because we thought he could get away, but Ricker wore him down with those legs. Ricker chose top in the third period, and Logan couldn’t answer. Three kids in the Mississippi Eight Conference took half of the medals in Class AA at 195, which says something about the depth in Mississippi Eight wrestling.
Hinsch was proud of the entire Wildcat wrestling squad in 2022-2023. “The kids were a joy to coach for us this year,” he said. “A lot of the team came down on Friday to watch their three teammates wrestle, and most of them came back on Saturday to watch Logan in the wrestlebacks. That’s a long time to sit in the stands. It’s tiring, but exciting.”