Wadena-Deer Creek senior Steven Erckenbrack will end his high school wrestling career on the mats at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul in the Class A Individual Tournament after earning a second place finish in the Section 6A Individual Tournament at 170 pounds.
It was a tough road for the senior, but he overcame a loss in the finals to win the true second spot, securing his spot at state with his 31st win of the season.
The senior posted a 31-9 mark for the season and has the opportunity to tack on some more wins when he competes at the state championships. He has lost only three matches wrestling at 170. He qualified last year at 182 for state.
"Steve wrestled with a purpose and a mission throughout the day, and really all year," Wadena-DC Co head coach Norm Gallant said. "It can be very difficult to wrestle that true second match coming off of a tough finals loss. I could see right away Steve was focused and ready to wrestle. He set the tone early and really wrestled a smart, aggressive match in the true second match. In the final minute there was a tough situation where he could have panicked and would have ended up on his back, but he was able to keep his head, get the counter and get the win. Couldn't happen to a nicer, more well deserving kid. He just has done things right his whole career, both in the classroom and on the mat. You like to see a great kid like this get rewarded."
Erkenbrack found himself in a tough spot after falling in the finals to West Central Area’s Levi Larkin by a 3-1 decision. Erkenbrack had to recover quickly and erase the thoughts of a loss out of his mind and return to the mat against Border West’s Jason Murphy. Murphy had momentum on his side after winning a third place match, forcing the true second.
Erkenbrack was strong in the true second match, taking control and out-pointing Murphy for a 9-3 decision victory.
Erkenbrack opened the tournament with a quarterfinal round fall when he defeated Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie’s Carter Rokes at the one minute and 38 second mark. Erkenbrack followed with a semifinal victory by decision over Barnesville’s Preston Snobl. He won the match 5-2. Erkenbrack’s lone defeat came in the finals when he was edged out by Levi Larkin by a score of 3-1. Larkin entered the tournament ranked sixth overall in the state at 170.
Erkenbrack had to go through another state ranked wrestler when he defeated Murphy in the true second. Murphy was ranked eighth in the state.
Erkenbrack will have the opportunity to square off with another state ranked wrestler when he squares off with Dalton Mielke of Rush City-Braham in the opening round of the Class A Championships at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The Wolverines recorded four sixth place finishes as well during the individual tournament.
Jayson Young capped off the season in sixth at 132. He was defeated by B-H/V/PP’s Trever Arceneau by fall in the quarterfinals. Arceneau got the pin at 4:45. Young responded with a 7-2 victory over Barnesville’s Hunter Anderson. However, Young was defeated by a 5-3 decision in the consolation semifinals by New York Mill’s Logan Small. WCA’s Chris Onstad earned a 4-3 decision in the fifth place match over Young, concluding his season.
Braeden Sibert claimed sixth place honors at 138. He was pinned at 2:27 by NYM’s Matt Frost in the quarterfinals. He was victorious in his first consolation match with a pin on Border West’s Jacob Adelman at 2:56. He was defeated in the semifinals by B-H/V/PP’s Hunter Dean by fall at 2:30, before falling to WCA’s Hunter Hanson in the fifth place match by a 9-3 decision.
Cody Wheeler was sixth at 160. He was defeated by Pelican Rapids’ Matt Ziebell by a 9-2 decision. Wheeler answered with a fall win over Barnesville’s Brody Kroll at 3:52 in the consolation round. He was eventually defeated by OTC’s Alex Erlandson by 7-2 decision in the semifinals. In the fifth place match, Staples-Motley’s Jonathan Lisson snuck by with a 5-2 decision.
Jericho Baker closed out with a sixth place finish at 195. He was defeated by WCA’s Wyatt Olson by fall at 2:22 in the quarterfinals. He responded with a fall win over Noah Ziebell at :37 in the consolatino round. He was pinned by OTC’s Wyatt Thorson in the semifinals, before getting pineed by S-M’s Braden Tyrell at 2:55.
Logan Wegscheid came in seventh at 220. He was defeated by Barnesville’s Jackson Poepping by fall and NYM’s Brandon Wiirre.
Simon Snyder finished eighth at 106. He was defeated by Dane Niemi in the opening around by technical fall at 106. He was eventually defeated by Ottertail Central’s Laredo Bugbee by fall in the consolation round.
Koby Endres ended in eighth place at 113. He opened with a technical fall defeat to Quinn Kern of B-H/V/PP in the quarterfinals. He followed with a fall victory over Pelican Rapids’ Daniel Diaz at 4:34 in the consolation round. He was defeated by West Central Area’s Reubens Swanson by fall at :45.
Mitchel Haman was defeated twice at 145. He was defeated by S-M’s Logen Weite and OTC’s Hunter Doll.
"Our kids did a pretty good job overall. Some exceeded their goals, some probably finished a little short," said Gallant, " We will have a nice group of juniors back next year and some 8-10th graders who have some experience. Now it is up to them. We need to get stronger over the off season and we need to do some camps and some summer wrestling. The kids have to buy in and make the improvements in order for us to take that next step."
Erkenbrack will take to the mat, beginning on Friday, March 2, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center.