Wrestlers have hold on state tourney fever

Six Panthers qualified for the individual state wrestling tournament. They are, from left: Anthony Axford, Austin Buchholz, Ayden Horner, Nash Mayer, Dereck Ellingson and Tyler Timm. Photo courtesy April Arnold

State team tournament begins Thursday in St. Paul

Temperatures are rising for Panther wrestling fever.

For the first time in school history, local wrestlers have qualified for the state Class A team tournament in St. Paul Thursday.  An additional six Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove wrestlers qualified for the individual tournament, which is slated Friday and Saturday, also in St. Paul.

The fourth-seeded Panthers (28-2) open team competition at the Xcel Energy Center at 9 a.m. Thursday against No. 5 Kenyon-Wanamingo (19-9).  If TMB/WWG wins, it advances to a 1 p.m. semifinal.  A first-round loss puts the Panthers into an 11 a.m. consolation semi-final. The Class A championship final is scheduled at 7 p.m., with the third-place and consolation finals both at 5 p.m.

The state individual wrestling competition follows Friday and Saturday.  Six Panthers have qualified for the individual Class A meet: Ayden Horner at 106 pounds, Derek Ellingson at 126,  Anthony Axford at 145, Nash Mayer at 160, Austin Buchholz, and Tyler Timm at 220. The six individual qualifiers are the most the Panthers have had since 2008, when Zach Campbell, Eric Cooreman, Luke Prairie and Colton Evans advanced.

The Class A individual competition begins at 1 p.m. Friday, with quarterfinals at 6 p.m., and wrestlebacks at 7 p.m. Championship semifinals begin at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.

A send-off for the wrestlers is planned Wednesday (Feb. 28), with a 10:45 a.m. pep fest at the high school, and a fire department escort from town at about 11:30 a.m. The Panthers are due to check in at 4 p.m., with a 7:30 a.m. weigh-in Thursday.