Wrestling: Seniors end careers at state meet
For seniors in wrestling there is only one proper way to end a high school career: by competing in the state wrestling meet.
The state wrestling meet is a special event, in front of thousands of spectators at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It brings about a unique feeling for wrestlers, even more so for two Rosemount seniors.
Phil Levine and Frank Pokriefka got the chance to end their high school careers at last week's state meet.
The two had very different experiences, and ended up with different feelings.
They just weren't the feelings one might have expected.
Pokriefka was unranked entering the tournament. The heavyweight won two matches, finishing in the top eight after losses to the eventual champion and third-place finisher.
"It was a great experiences to end my senior year," Pokriefka said. "I was just glad to get a win there. It's not too disappointing."
Levine completed his impressive season with a second-place finish. His loss in the state finals was his only loss this season.
"It went good, just not as good as I hoped," Levine said. "It's one of those bittersweet situations. It was really exciting.
"I felt really good and thought I had a good shot at (a state title). The chips just didn't fall my way."
The two gave Rosemount many reasons to cheer during the four-day tournament.
"Frank wrestled on the third day and Phil got to the fourth day. That's outstanding," Irish coach Brett Larson said.
Levine ended the season 41-1, setting a new school record for wins in a season, but he might think about the loss for a while.
Wrestling at 103 pounds, Levine beat the the No. 7 and No. 8 ranked wrestlers to make it to the semifinals. He added an 8-1 win in the semifinals to face St. Cloud Apollo's Mitch Bengston in the finals. Bengston was 43-1 and ranked No. 1 all season long. Levine ended up losing in a close 2-0 decision.
"It was tough because those were the first two back points I had given up all year," Levine said. "It's kind of a bummer."
"I believe if those two wrestle 10 times, it's probably about 50-50," Larson said. 'Phil just came up short the time he wrestled him."
Pokriefka won his opening match in overtime before losing to the eventual champion in the second round. He added another win in the wrestlebacks.
"I knew I just had to win the next one," Pokriefka said. "It's just win or you're done. So, I had the drive to win and get the job done."