PJ Velazquez felt good about his draw in the 145-pound bracket. Things played out just as he hoped. But in sports not everything goes to plan.
Jed Wester of St. Michael-Albertville, a wrestler the Chaska/Chanhassen senior had beaten 5-2 just five days earlier for a state preliminary round title, pulled off the upset in the Class 3A State Wrestling semifinals.
Wester gained the winning two points on a scramble in overtime for the 9-7 score.
Velazquez ended up taking fourth place in a 5-3 decision loss to Gabe Wagner to round out a high school career with 186 wins, second-most in program history.
"Four tournament berths, two top-five placements, over 180 career victories landing second on all-time win list, and one of the most tremendous leaders the program has had. Thank you PJ!!!" the Storm Hawks coaching staff said on Twitter.
Velazquez was superb in his quarterfinal match, scoring five takedowns and two three-point near-falls in an 18-2 technical fall over unranked Cade Johnson of Woodbury.
In the rematch with Wester, despite an early deficit, Velazquez seemed to be in control of the match, like their meeting on March 20. An escape and takedown had the Chanhassen senior up 3-2 through one period.
Velazquez kept Wester down for the first 90 seconds of the second period, but a quick move resulted in a two-count of Velazquez on his back, a total of four points for Wester, and a 6-3 lead.
Velazquez tied the match up twice in the third period, first on an escape and takedown at 6-6 before he was awarded a penalty point in the closing seconds to even the match at seven.
Wester gained the win at the 20-second mark of overtime.
Velazquez finished with a record of 21-5 in his final season. Wester, meanwhile, lost 15-0 in a technical fall in the championship to New Prague's Nick Novak. Valezquez lost a 1-0 decision in an out-of-state tournament to Novak and a 5-3 decision in the first high school match of 2021 on Jan. 14.
AROUND THE REGION
Two Section 6AAA wrestlers competed for state titles, with one, Max McEnelly of Waconia, claiming a championship.
It's the second state title for McEnelly, who won all 37 matches in 2021.
McEnelly advanced to the championship with a 23-8 technical fall and a second-period pin before scoring a third-period escape for the deciding point in a 3-2 win over Gabe Nagel of Little Falls.
Wildcat teammate Lincoln Vick was sixth at 113 pounds, scoring an 11-2 major decision in the consolation semifinals.
Section 6AAA's other finalist, senior Bryce Dagel, advanced to the championship at 152 pounds by scores of 10-2 and 6-4, dropping a 3-1 decision to undefeated Wayzata wrestler Cael Swensen on a overtime takedown.
Edina's Landon Nebel defeated Cael Robb of Owatonna in a quarterfinal pin, placing fourth at 120 pounds.
Other section wrestlers to compete were Gage Mueller of Waconia (sixth place), Vincent Gladbach of Minneapolis Washburn (fourth place) and RJ Chakolis of Hopkins (third place).
Chakolis, a defending state champion, lost a semifinal match to eventual champion Jacob Meissner by a 3-2 score in four overtimes.