Thief River Falls sophomore reached the state wrestling tournament medal stand with a sixth place finish at 120 pounds Friday and Saturday, March 3-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
This was Lundeen’s third trip to state as an individual state qualifier. As an eighth grader at 106 pounds in 2015, Lundeen was a victim of the one-and-done rule, in which he was eliminated from the state tournament after one match. That year, Lundeen lost 14-1 to Garrett Vos and was eliminated from the tournament when Vos lost to Kyle Cavanaugh in three overtimes.
Last year, Lundeen advanced to the consolation quarterfinals but dropped a 6-2 decision to Perham’s Leighton Rach leaving him one victory short of the medal stand.
Lundeen almost didn’t make it out of the first round this year. Lundeen and Dereck Ellingson of Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove were scoreless for most of the first period, before Ellingson hit a slideby and transitioned into a side headlock that he used to take a 5-0 first period lead.
Lundeen battled back though. He rode Ellingson out in the second period and used an escape, takedown and tilt in the third period to claim a 6-5 come-from-behind win.
In the second round, Lundeen got to the legs of two-time Grand Rapids state place winner Cole Jones but Lundeen couldn’t finish. He was rode out in the second period and gave up a takedown in the third to lose 3-0.
Lundeen’s third opponent, Triston Zuniga, proved to be a tough counter wrestlers for Lundeen. Although Lundeen could get into shots with relative ease, Zuniga proved to be more than formidable defensively. Lundeen finally scored to break a 0-0 tie in the third period and after a late Zuniga escape, Lundeen advanced with a 2-1 win.
Lundeen had a similar match-up in Saturday morning’s round of eight. Lundeen had previously beaten Mora’s Konrad Blood and he used that experience to win 2-1 Saturday morning.
Lundeen’s tournament concluded with a 4-1 loss to Tanner Kroells of Delano in the consolation semifinals and an 11-0 loss to Jones in the fifth place match.
“Cade wrestled a great tournament,” said Head Coach Kenny Geiser. “He was focused, wrestled smart, and scored when he had the chance.”
“Cade did a great job of coming back in his first match, after being down 5-0,” Geiser added. “He could have given up but he was determined to win and stuck with his game plan and didn't get rattled. I am so proud of Cade, he has worked so hard and for him to achieve his goal is rewarding to see as a coach.”
Appearing in his fourth state tournament, Josh Bernier was seeded sixth at 152 pounds and appeared to be in a good position to earn a top-six finish. Bernier opened the tournament with a solid 6-3 win over Alex Pachan of St. Cloud Apollo. He lost 10-4 in the quarterfinals to eventual third place finisher McCoy Tekautz of Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson.
Bernier was eliminated from the tournament in Friday night’s consolation round in a heartbreaking 5-3 overtime loss to Connor Denman of Cloquet-Esco-Carlton.
“"Josh had a great season,” said Head Coach Kenny Geiser. “He was very dominant all year. He just came up short at state and ended up wrestling a couple of very tough kids. He struggled scoring points from his feet, which hasn't been a problem all season. I am proud of the season Josh had, and I hope the disappointment of not reaching the medal stand will fuel his desire for next season.”
Also failing to place were Noah Hawkins and Brenan Peralta.
Wrestling at 160, Hawkins led 5-1 against Gaven Gillman of Dassel-Cokato through two periods of wrestling. Gillman made a furious comeback in the third to tie the match at 7-7 and send it to overtime. Gillman won the match 9-7 in overtime and Hawkins season ended one round later when four-time state champion Brady Berge of Kasson-Mantorville pinned Gillman in the second period.
“Very proud of this young man,” Geiser said. “He has faced a lot of adversity the past few years but rose above it this season. He wrestled a good match, and proved he belonged down here by going to OT with a 32-3 kid. Noah had a great season, reaching 30 wins is an accomplishment.”
Like Hawkins, Peralta had his chances to win in the opening round. Wrestling at 195 pounds, Peralta briefly had Jordan Simonette of Tri City United on his back before Simonette reversed Peralta to his back and secured the fall with eight seconds left in the second period.
“Brenan had some chances to win his first match, he competed well just got caught by a tough kid,” Geiser said. “Brenan hopefully learns from this and can take the next step next year.”
120AA – Cade Lundeen, def. Dereck Ellingson (Tracy-Milroy-Balaton-Westbrook-Walnut Grove) 6-5; def. by Cole Jones (Grand Rapids) 3-0; def. Triston Zuniga (Totino-Grace) 2-1; def. Konrad Blood (Mora) 2-1; def. by Tanner Kroells (Delano) 4-0; def. by Cole Jones (Grand Rapids) 11-0.
152AA – Josh Bernier, def. Alex Pachan (St Cloud Apollo) 6-3; def. by McCoy Tekautz (Lewiston-Altura-Rushford-Peterson) 10-4; def. by Conner Denman (CEC) 5-3 SV.
160AA – Noah Hawkins, def. by Gaven Gillman (Dassel-Cokato) 9-7 SV1.
195AA – Brenan Peralta, def. by Jordan Simonette (Tri-City United) fall 3:52.