Working your way through the wrestlebacks after a second-round loss to place at the state high school meet is a rigorous journey that not many athletes can successfully navigate.
After a detour in Friday's second round (an 11-10 loss to Reid Lyden of East Ridge), Bemidji's Brian Maas battled through those state-meet hazards, however, and Saturday the freshman capped a memorable season by defeating Trent Piepenburg of Alexandria in the third-place match of the 106-pound bracket.
The bout was a repeat of the Section 8-3A championship match which saw Maas defeat his rival 2-0. During a regular season match Piepenburg tipped Maas in three overtimes.
"My main goal coming into the state meet was to place and after I lost Friday I had to wrestle all the way back," Maas said. "But I set my mind to do just that."
In Saturday's third-place match Maas registered a first-period takedown and another takedown in the second stanza gave him a 4-1 lead.
Maas chose down to start the third period and, after an early escape, he was able to ice the win with a third takedown.
"Brian has high expectations," said BHS coach Rance Bahr. "He was disappointed when he lost Friday but he was determined to bounce back Saturday.
"Finishing third and having to go through so many wrestlebacks says something about his determination and his ability," the coach continued. "The two kids who made the finals are tough but it would have been interesting to see how Brian would have fared against one or both of them."
In the first round of the state meet Maas, who finished the winter with a 36-6 record, upended Isaac Loosbrock of Chaska 6-4.
In the quarterfinals Maas lost to Reid Lyden of East Ridge 11-10. Lyden owned a 40-4 record heading into that bout but trailed Maas 10-8 in the final 30 seconds of the match.
Lyden, however, drew closer with an escape and won it in the waning seconds with a takedown.
Maas remained alive in Friday's late wrestlebacks, however, as he pinned Sam Bennyoff of Mound-Westonka in 4:34.
Early Saturday morning Maas was back at the Xcel Center for what would be his first of three matches on the day.
In the morning round Maas pinned Aaron Dick of St. Michael-Albertville in 1:15 and in the afternoon consolation semifinals he edged Blane Tschida of Coon Rapids 1-0.
"That was a great match," Bahr said. Neither kid scored in the first period but Brian took down to start the second period and scored with an escape.
"In the third period Tschida took down and Maas was able to ride him the entire two minutes."
That win set the stage for the victory in the third-place match.
"It's hard to win four in a row in the wrestlebacks but I worked all year to get to this point and all of that work paid off," Maas said. "I'm very proud of what I accomplished."
Bemidji's other state representative, heavyweight Alex Johnson, wrestled only once at the state meet. In the opening round Johnson fell 5-2 to Stefan Sauer of Rosemount and when Sauer lost his next match Johnson was eliminated.
Blackduck-Cass Lake-Bena and Fosston-Bagley also advanced wrestlers to state but only BCLB 195-pounder Crag Bodeur posted a victory.
Brodeur defeated Pat Hanson of Jacks County Central 9-6 in the opening round but he lost by a pin to Adam Josephson of Minneota in the quarterfinals.
In Friday's late round Brodeur was bounced from the tourney when he fell 13-4 to Dustin Waytashek of Pierz.
BCLB's other state wrestler, heavyweight Alex Goodwin, was 0-2 at the state meet, losing 12-4 to Pedro Guevara of Lake City and being pinned by Aaron Bruihler of LeSueur-Henderson.
In the 170-pound bracket of the Class 2A meet, Fosston-Bagley's Blake Olson was pinned by Jake Earl of Milaca. Earl, however, lost his next match and that result ended Olson's stay.
State Wrestling Meet
106 pounds - Brian Maas
Maas def. Loosbrock (Chaska) 6-4; Lyden (East Ridge) def. Maas 11-10; Maas pin Bennyoff (Mound-Westonka) 4:34; Maas pin Dick (St. Michael) 1:15; Maas dec. Tschida (Coon Rapids) 1-0; Maas dec. Piepenburg (Alexandria) 7-1. Maas finishes third.
Heavyweight - Alex Johnson
Sauer (Rosemount) dec. Johnson 5-2. Note: Sauer lost his next match so Johnson was eliminated
170 pounds - Blake Olson,
Earl (Milaca) pin Olson. Note: Earl lost his next match so Olson was eliminated
195 pounds - Crag Brodeur, BCLB
Brodeur dec. Pat Hanson (Jackson County Central) 9-6; Josephson (Minneota) pin Brodeur; Waytashek (Pierz) dec. Brodeur 13-4
Heavyweight - Alex Goodwin, BCLB
Guevara (Lake City) dec. Goodwin 12-4
Bruihler (LeSueur) pin Goodwin