The Mound Westonka White Hawks wrestling squad hosted the Section 6AAA Individual wrestling tournament on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23. The White Hawks entered wrestlers in 13 of 14 weights, placing all 13 and advancing seven to state.
Seven state entrants is a modern-day record for the White Hawks, eclipsed only by the 1947 state championship that sent all ten wrestlers.
“Overall we had a great tournament and are pleased to be sending seven guys,” said head coach Todd Munsterteiger. "As a coach you want to get everyone through, but the kids wrestled well and I am very proud of their performance."
The White Hawks had five returning state entrants in sophomore Sam Bennyhoff; juniors Ryder Schmidt and Bryan Tierney; and seniors Tyler Hebig and Will Van Sant. All five will be making another trip to state, and all earned section titles in doing so.
Earning their first trip to state with runner-up finishes were freshmen Ryan Reid and Drake Heath.
“Our returners took care of business and set themselves up well by winning titles,” said assistant coach Eric Rodelius. "Ryan and Drake both battled tough seniors in the finals, and even though they lost they earned their trip to state.
Reid and Heath clinched berths in different ways, as Reid upset the No. 2 seed in the semi-finals, and Heath had to endure a true-second match to claim a second place finish.
Other White Hawks wrestlers earning medals were Noah Byers, Eric Hannigan and Cori Klocek in 6th place, John Byers and Travis Peterson, 5th place; and Ben Rogers in 3rd place. Rogers lost a heartbreaking overtime match in the semifinals to end his bid for state, but ended his career on a high note with a third place finish.
“Ben had a great career and was an unbelievable leader for us," said coach Munsterteiger. "A lot of the success of our team and program is owed to his contributions-he will be sorely missed.”
Hannigan also wrestled his last match as a White Hawk, but did a great job placing in sections and anchoring the upper weights.
“Hanni was a great team-player and always did what we asked of him. He really wrestled well at the end-I wish we could have one more year with him,” commented Rodelius.
First-round state tournament action will begin at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 1, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and continues Friday night. Finals are slated for Saturday at 5 p.m.