The 2019 Minnesota State High School League Individual Wrestling Tournament kicks off today with 12 local wrestlers hitting the mat in search of championship glory.

In Class AA, Fergus Falls’ Dustin Portales (32-2) will make his second consecutive appearance in the state tournament.

“It’s really an awesome accomplishment for Dustin being a two-time section champ at heavyweight in 8AA,” Otters head coach Adam Schlepp said. “We’re really excited to see what he can do, it’s his second time heading down to the Xcel Energy Center so that experience will help us tremendously. It is an extremely tough bracket but Dustin’s a tough kid so it’ll be fun to see how he fares down there.”

Portales will first take on Bennett Weber (36-10) of Waconia in the opening round. The match should be a hotly contested one as Portales is ranked fourth in Class AA, just ahead of Weber, according to theguillotine.com.

In Class A, Otter Tail Central will send seven of its wrestlers onto the Xcel Energy Center’s floor.

The Bulldogs will look for section champions Laredo  Bugbee (113), Max Naddy (145) and Wyatt Thorson (220) to make a big mark at the tournament. Bugbee (25-8) will take on Chatfield’s Cael Bartels (30-8), who finished the year ranked ninth in Class A. Naddy (29-11) opens the tournament with a match against James Welle (27-8) of Holdingford, while Thorson (32-9) takes the second overall rank into the tournament for an opening round match against Nick McCabe (7-3) of Caledonia/Houston.

Otter Tail Central’s section runners-up will look to matchup against some of the other sections top competitors. Zane Swanson (29-10) will open against Jared Knutson (31-8) of Benson in the 160-pound division, while Nik Gardin (23-23) takes on third-ranked Alex Borsgard (34-2) of Windom/Mountain Lake at 152 pounds. In the 132-pound weight class, Logan Schleske (20-15)  Joash Lord  (31-10) of Norwood-Young America, and Cian Buehler (29-9) will grapple with Zach Evans (32-13) Badger-Greenbush-Middle River.

The West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville Knights will have three wrestlers looking for state gold.

Section 6A champ Wyatt Olson (38-5)  takes on Matthew Kasella (14-7) of Royalton-Upsala. Olson is ranked fifth in the state at his weight class and will look to make a heavy push into the tournament.

Teammate Jordan Lohse (36-7) is ranked seventh in the 138-pound weight class and will take on eighth-ranked  Tagen Miller of Wabasha-Kellog (40-4).

Anthony Sykora (28-7)  will take on Gable Speltz (29-13) of Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson in a 126-pound match.

Pelican Rapids will be represented by 170-pounder Matt Ziebell. Ziebell (26-6) will take on Tristyn Ferguson (25-8) of Red Lake County Central.

The first round of the tournament will begin at 9 a.m. with Class AAA opening the festivities, followed by Class AA and Class A.

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