by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Zimmerman’s two state wrestling tournament entrants had a banner first day Friday, with Austin May advancing to the Class AA semifinals and Hunter Smith winning two of three to remain in medal contention.
“This is just what I was hoping for,” said May, a junior after pulling out two close decisions at 182 pounds.
“It was a pretty good first day for both Hunter and Austin,” said coach Pat Burch. “We had a real good first round.”
For all classes, the wrestle back rounds Saturday start 9:30 a.m., followed by championship semifinals at 10:45, consolation semifinals at 12:45 p.m., third- and fifth-place matches at 4:30 p.m., and championships at 7 p.m.
May (35-7), ranked No. 8, ground out a 4-2 win over Spencer Oeltjenbruns (33-6) of Luverne, with a takedown and two escapes, and a 3-2 win over No. 5 Bryan Bertram (8-2) of Byron, when he made an early takedown and played mostly defense after that. May faces No. 4 Jackson Striggow (38-5) of Orono in the semifinals.
“I went for an offside single-leg (takedown) to his left side and executed it, about 30 seconds into the match,” said May. Bertram was on top most of the rest of the match. “I knew he was trying to roll me to my back,” May said, “so it was mostly defense after that to make sure he didn’t get the two points and bonus.”
May faced Striggow before, losing by three points at the Chisago Lakes tournament.
“We’ve watched film and I think we’ve got some things corrected,” said Burch about the semifinal match. “If you study film on all these guys, they all do about fifty things. There’s no one-move guys down here. But (addressing May) you just do your stuff and do it well, like you’re doing now.”
Smith (34-8), making his third trip, got his first two state wins. Ranked No. 5, Hunter beat Ryan Duffy (26-10) of South St. Paul 4-0, then lost to No. 10 Logan Axford (33-3) of Tracy-Milroy-Balton 3-1.
“He (Axford) was stronger than me and he got a takedown in the second period and I couldn’t escape, that was the difference,” said Hunter. “He got a double leg and was able to lift me up before I got my legs underneath me.”
Against Duffy, Hunter had a reversal in the second period and a takedown in the third when he countered an attempt to throw him.
“I was more aggressive in that match,” he said.
Smith stayed alive in wrestle backs 3-0 over No. 7 Reid Johnson (10-6) of North Branch and faces Connor Rohr (31-0) of Cannon Falls on Saturday, needing two more wins to get on the podium.
“We are having lot of fun,” said Smith. “It’s always an awesome time when we are down here. It’s a lot of work (to get here) and it’s all worth it.”