by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Zach Stepan of Zimmerman won twice at the state tournament on Friday to reach the Class AA semifinals at 125 pounds.
Meanwhile, Holton Lubinski of Elk River won his first-round match and lost in the second round in Class AA.
Three other Zimmerman wrestlers and one Rogers entrant lost in the first round in action at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Stepan (38-1), a senior at 125 pounds, beat Austin Kruis of Fulda-Murray County Central 6-1, then toppled Matt Fuller of Annandale-Maple Lake, 8-4.
Stepan, who’s gone to state twice previously without placing, can do no worse than fourth this year.
He faces sophomore Jonah Gahn (40-4) of Milaca/Faith Christian in the semifinals Saturday, with Joey Munos (39-0) of So. St. Paul and Tanner Rohlik (32-4) of Wabasso-Red Rock in the other semifinal.
Lubinski (23-3), a section 145-pound champion and the lone Elk at state this year, beat Rocori’s Jordan Hemmesch 8-6 in the first round.
Lubinski led 5-1 after two periods before Hemmesch, cousin of former Elk wrestlers Tyler and Logan Hammesch, got behind him for a takedown in the third period, then cradled him for a near-fall to take a 6-5 lead. Lubinski was able to escape in the final minute, then take Hemmesch down with 20 seconds left for the win.
Lubinski was scuttled by Hastings senior Zach Rohr 7-1 in the second round. He drops into wrestlebacks against Alex Johnson of Tartan, with a chance to finish third with three wins.
Zimmerman senior Weston Schwartz (17-14) was pinned by Joey Stadnick of Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran in 1:20. He’s alive in wrestlebacks today because Stadnick won again in the second round. Schwartz faces Dallen Rud of Byron on Saturday morning.
Zimmerman’s Hunter Smith and Mitch Robinson, and Rogers’ Kyler Swanson, all lost in the first round and are done because the guys who beat them all lost their second-round matches.
Smith (24-16), freshman 119-pounder, lost to Foley’s Mitch Dunlap 8-0. Robinson (31-5), sophomore at 189, lost to St. Paul Central’s Jerome Paul 3-2. Swanson (23-18), sophomore at 140, was pinned in 20 seconds by Lyndon Becker of Caledonia-Houston.
In Robinson’s close lose, he gave up a takedown in the second period when he was doing the shooting but Paul managed to counter one of the shoots and get behind him for the takedown.