Nothing is handed to competitors who wrestle in the MSHSL Class AA State Championships and the 2023 tournament proved to be just as competitive as possible once again. The trio of Tri-City United senior wrestlers who qualified for the competition, Cole Franek, Caden O’Malley and Marco Reyes, all battled either a state champion or runner up during the two day tournament and when the dust settled, O’Malley and Reyes earned podium finishes claiming third and fourth respectively.
“I knew these were the last few matches of my life so I wanted to give it my all,” O’Malley said after claiming third. “There’s no sense of leaving anything on the mat only a few matches left so I just went out and did the best I can.”
“Everyday I train against a top guy in the state that,” Reyes said of his teammate O’malley after finishing competition. “We battle each other in the practice room, give each other bloody noses and hurt each other’s fingers, so it was a battle throughout the entire season.”
Franek faced eventual state champion Tyler Wells of Princeton in the opening round and was defeated via tech fall and in the consolation round he was able to take the match the distance but wasn’t able to score a point, falling by 5-0 decision.
For O’Malley, his path to the bronze medal began with a pair of day-one victories by decision that propelled him into the championship semifinals. In the semifinal match, O’Malley took on Zak McPhee of Proctor-Hermantown who would go on to claim the state runner up. While McPhee ultimately earned the victory it was by no means easy as O’Malley took the battle the distance in an 11-8 decision.
O’Malley entered the consolation bracket in the semifinals where he earned an 8-5 decision victory against an incredibly aggressive opponent.
“I wrestle an aggressive partner in practice who’s like that in Marco so I tried to use what I’ve learn in practice on him and use that against the competition,” noted O’Malley.
O’Malley’s final match, the third-place battle, proved to be fairly one-sided as he was able to control the flow of the match, earning an impressive 8-2 decision victory.
Reyes also entered the second day of competition with a pair of day-one victories, an 11-3 major decision and a 9-7 decision, advancing to the Championship semifinals against eventual state champion Gavin Nelson of Simley, who sent Reyes to the consolation bracket with a tech fall in the final seconds of the match. Reyes responded with a commanding 7-3 decision victory in the consolation semifinals as he started the match with a renewed intensity.
“Honestly it was kind of a revenge type thing,” Reyes said. “I just got beat pretty bad so I wanted to return the favor a bit.”
In the third-place match, Reyes faced off against Grady Minnerath of Rocori who excelled in defensive oriented wrestling and was able to counter several of Reyes’ attacks. Minnerath ultimately earned the 6-2 decision over Reyes, cementing his fourth-place finish as the group of seniors who have been through so much together officially brought a close to their incredible careers.
“Everyone’s always given us high grade support when lose or a draw,” added Reyes. “Coaches and teammates have always been supporting us throughout the season so even when we’ve had some tough losses, we still have guys supporting us the same.”
“I just like to thank Marco who has been the best practice partner and his family has been some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met including Devin Anne Reyes who has always been at our side,” said O’Malley. “Our coaches put in hours of work for months that they don’t need to do and I appreciate them to the moon back. They have changed my life significantly and it’s just amazing to see what they do for us.”
132AA — Cole Franek (37-11) place is unknown and scored 0.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 — Tyler Wells (Princeton) 38-0 won by tech fall over Cole Franek (Tri-City United) 37-11 (TF-1.5 3:18 (23-8))
Cons. Round 1 — Lucas Schiell (Zumbrota-Mazeppa) 31-11 won by decision over Cole Franek (Tri-City United) 37-11 (Dec 5-0)
182AA — Caden O‘Malley (48-5) placed 3rd and scored 0.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 — Caden O‘Malley (Tri-City United) 48-5 won by decision over Evan McGuire (Mahtomedi) 43-10 (Dec 10-6)
Quarterfinal — Caden O‘Malley (Tri-City United) 48-5 won by decision over Ryan Lexvold (Zumbrota-Mazeppa) 36-8 (Dec 7-0)
Semifinal — Zak McPhee (Proctor-Hermantown) 45-2 won by decision over Caden O‘Malley (Tri-City United) 48-5 (Dec 11-8)
Cons. Semi — Caden O‘Malley (Tri-City United) 48-5 won by decision over Jacob Williams (Aitkin) 36-8 (Dec 8-5)
3rd Place Match — Caden O‘Malley (Tri-City United) 48-5 won by decision over Evan McGuire (Mahtomedi) 43-10 (Dec 8-2)
220AA — Marco Reyes (44-9) placed 4th and scored 0.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 — Marco Reyes (Tri-City United) 44-9 won by major decision over Colbee Zens (Milaca-Faith Christian) 27-8 (MD 11-3)
Quarterfinal — Marco Reyes (Tri-City United) 44-9 won by decision over Max Olson (Fairmont-Martin County West) 38-8 (Dec 9-7)
Semifinal — Gavin Nelson (Simley) 50-0 won by tech fall over Marco Reyes (Tri-City United) 44-9 (TF-1.5 5:43 (21-6))
Cons. Semi — Marco Reyes (Tri-City United) 44-9 won by decision over Ian Larrabee (Hibbing) 37-8 (Dec 7-3)
3rd Place Match — Grady Minnerath (Rocori) 44-4 won by decision over Marco Reyes (Tri-City United) 44-9 (Dec 6-2)