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Wrestling: Tulenchik captures state title in OT

Tulenchik won the state title after taking second the past two years

Road Crew Connor Tulenchik state wrestling
Road Crew senior Connor Tulenchik, a state runner-up the past two seasons, defeated Cole Glazier of Kasson-Mantorville 4-2 in overtime at 170 pounds to win his first state individual title on Saturday, March 5, 2022.
Bill Johnson/Picture Day Pro!

Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew senior Connor Tulenchik capped off an impressive wrestling career by winning the 170-pound state title at the Class 2A state individual championships Saturday, March 5, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Tulenchik, a state runner-up the past two seasons, defeated Cole Glazier of Kasson-Mantorville 4-2 in overtime to win his first state title.

“Connor has always had a vision of being a state champion,” Road Crew coach Travis Hoffarth said. “That is what sets him apart from most. His dream was set into motion with hard work and a desire to be the best. Our program has had a lot of really really good wrestlers, who have put their stamp on this program. Connor has proven that he is the lead dog when it comes to that group.”

Tulenchik used a reversal to grab a 2-1 lead late in his championship match, but Glazier earned one point for an escape with about 15 seconds left to force overtime. Tulenchik then scored in overtime to win the match and finish the season with a program-record 48 wins in 50 matches. Tulenchik is the second state champion in program history, the other was heavyweight Josh Bresnahan in 2001.

“Connor’s title match was a grind,” Hoffarth said. “He did a great job of slowing the pace. He had a plan and stuck with it. Connor was focused on stopping Glazier’s single leg and tough ride. Glaziers’s ride in the third period proved to put stress and pressure on the Road Crew fans as Connor struggled to get away. Then in overtime, he cranked up the intensity, and a scramble ensued, and some added extra horsepower allowed him to put a flag at the top of the mountain.”

Tulenchik opened the tournament by defeating Brent Holzem of Simley in a fall at 2:40. Tulenchik then downed Brian Thilges of Mankato East with a technical fall in 4:50 and edged Caden O’Malley of LeCenter 3-2 to reach the championship match.

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His desire to be the best has been contagious and helped our whole program take the next step. His accolades put him at the top of most programs, but he is ours and we are so proud of him.
Travis Hoffarth, Road Crew Head Coach

Tulenchik finishes his career with four state individual appearances, a four-time All-Mid-State Conference winner and a career winning percentage of .870 (216 wins, 32 losses). The six-year letterwinner also had 11 career tournament titles.

“Connor has been tackling the goal of being the best since he set his first wrestling shoe on a mat,” Hoffarth said. “His desire to be the best has been contagious and helped our whole program take the next step. His accolades put him at the top of most programs, but he is ours and we are so proud of him. The guy that has set the bar for our next generation of Road Crew wrestlers. They have big shoes to fill, but we are ready and waiting to get another state champion.”

Road Crew Connor Tulenchik state 2
The Road Crew's Connor Tulenchik battled Cole Glazier of Kasson-Mantorville before winning 4-2 in overtime in the 170-pound state title match on Saturday, March 5, 2022.
Bill Johnson/Picture Day Pro!

That next champion could be eighth-grader Parker Zutter, who finished fifth for the Road Crew at 106. Zutter was defeated by Lawson Eller of New Prague 10-0 in the first round. Eller was a formidable opponent who eventually finished second. In the wrestlebacks, Zutter defeated Austin Grzywinski of Simley 5-4 and Aiden Graner of Plainview-Elgin-Millville with a technical fall at 4:24. Zutter then lost to Charles Vanier of Richfield 12-6, but bounced back by defeating Isaiah Nelson of New London-Spicer 10-6 in the fifth-place match.

“Parker bounced back by winning three of his final four matches and earned a spot on the podium,” Hoffarth said of Zutter, who finished 47-4. “We are so proud of how he responded from that first round defeat. Parker has compiled an 80-11 record in just two varsity seasons. He is such a dangerous wrestler, and his style allows him to be one move away every single time. He has really set himself up for an exciting career.”

The five other state participants for the Road Crew included Easton Miller (113), Caleb Ruhl (126), Owen Carlson (132), Corbin Knapp (195) and Austin Staricha (220).

Miller lost to Christrian Jelle of Hibbing by technical fall at 4:09. He then fell to Cash Sixberry of Big Lake with a pin in 50 seconds.

“Easton ran into two really tough kids,” Hoffarth said. “His first loss came to the eventual sixth place finisher. He battled so hard to get back on the mat for us after dealing with injury.”

Ruhl opened with a technical fall loss in 5:38 against Cooper Rowe of Mound-Westonka. Ruhl then lost to Luke Ruter of New London-Spicer 6-4 in the first round of wrestlebacks. Ruhl, a senior, finishes 36-14. Carlson lost to Dylan Louwagie of Marshall by technical fall at 5:09 in the opening round. Carlson was then pinned at 2:49 by Nolan Reiter of Big Lake in the wrestlebacks as the senior finished 22-6.

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Ruhl and Carlson both had similar results at state, according to Hoffarth.

“Caleb's first round loss (against Rowe) came to the eventual fourth-place finisher,” Hoffarth said of Ruhl, who finishes as the 11th winningest wrestler in our program history with 123. “Owen ran into two buzzsaws as well. His first round loss came to the eventual third-place finisher and his eliminating loss came to the eventual fifth place finisher. Owen is as tough as they come, and he battled through a partially torn meniscus from early December all the way through to the end. He finished his career with 121 wins.”

Knapp defeated Colbee Zens of Milaca/Faith Christian 3-0 in the first round, but dropped a 7-4 decision to Hayden Hoememann of Dassel Cokato/Litchfield in the quarterfinals. Knapp then pinned Charles Baker of Totino-Grace in 1:50 in the first round of wrestlebacks before being edged 2-1 by Jackson Drahos of Watertown-Mayer. Knapp, a junior, finishes 42-6.

“Corbin lost a heartbreaker 2-1 in the blood round (one spot from the podium),” Hoffarth said. “He has really turned a corner this year. He will be motivated to take the next step and with a healthy season, he has the chance to become the second all-time winningest wrestler in program history.”

Staricha pinned Spencer Henke of Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield in 5:27 before falling to Justin Matson of Pine City/Hinkley-Finlayson 10-5 in the quarterfinals. Staricha then defeated Keaton Haas of Dawson-Boyd – Lac Qui Parle by injury default before losing 6-2 against Sam Dioszeghy of Mound-Westonka. Staricha, a senior, finishes 37-4.

“Austin was also one win away from the podium,” Hoffarth said of Staricha, who finished with 110 career wins. “He only trailed (Dioszeghy) 4-2 with about one minute remaining. So he was right there. Austin's losses came to the second- and fourth-place finishers.”

Overall, Road Crew wrestlers combined to finish 11-12 overall at state.

“And 11 of the losses were against kids that were on the podium,” Hoffarth said. “That is pretty incredible. We were beat by the best, so we have nothing to hang our head about.”

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Road Crew state qualifiers.jpg
The Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew had seven wrestlers compete at the Class 2A state individual wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
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Related Topics: ROAD CREW WRESTLING
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