ST. MICHAEL — For the second year in the row, Connor Tulenchik finishes second.
The Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew junior entered the state championships Friday, March 26, the top-seed at 170 pounds in Class 2A.
After knocking off his quarterfinals opponent Keegan Lemke in a 15-5 major decision, he beat Blaine Henderson in a 6-4 sudden death decision in the semifinals to advance to his second-straight state finals.
In the finals, Tulenchik faced second-seeded Adam Sylvester, who was undefeated 27-0 headed in.
Tulenchik lost in an 11-3 major decision to be back-to-back runners-up. He finishes the season 40-2.
“We got to where we wanted to be,” Road Crew head coach Travis Hoffarth said. “His goal all year has been to be a state champion and to do that you need to reach the state finals.
“The semifinals were a little more nerve-wracking than we would’ve liked them to be. We went to overtime with an opponent he’s familiar with. Sometimes those matches can be a little closer than you want, but we got it done and reached the finals and just ran into a better kid.
“Runner-up for the second year in a row, next year we are hoping the third year is the charm. We wouldn’t change anything as far as our approach goes or our game plan goes. Unfortunately we fell on the wrong side this time.”
At 126 pounds, Road Crew teammate Owen Carlson lost both of his state championships matches.
In the quarterfinals, Carlson fell to Big Lake’s Nolan Reiter in an 8-5 decision.
In the consolation round he was pinned in 5:49 by Zach Pribyl.
“You get to this point and it’s difficult to continue to climb that ladder,” Hoffarth said. “He started a little slow, but gained some confidence as the first match went on, but just fell short. His second match, honestly, I think if we wrestle 10 times we win eight of them, but we just let it slip away.”
At 132 pounds, Pierz’s Trevor Radunz was pinned in the quarterfinals in 1:20 by Princeton’s Landen Parent.
Radunz battled back in the consolation round to win by pin in 40 seconds and win by a 10-7 decision to claim fifth place in his second-straight year at state.
“Our goal was to go down there and get a state medal,” Pierz head coach Skip Troop said. “He was really focused and we knew we had a tough match in the first round because we lost to that guy in the prelims. He wrestled well in the wrestlebacks though.”