Orono Public Schools logo

The Orono Public Schools logo is on the floor of the entrance to the Orono Activities Center.

With nine matches completed and only five remaining in the Section 5AA wrestling championship match, Totino-Grace looked to be in complete control with a 33-12 lead over the Orono Spartans.

To get back into the match, the Spartans not only needed victories, but decisive victories in order to turn the scoreboard around.

Noah Arneson started the comeback at 170 pounds when he pinned Mac Bouwman in just 25 seconds to pick up six crucial team points.

Johnny Harstad was next at 182 pounds as he pinned opponent Quentin Moore at the 1:15 mark of their match and suddenly the Spartans were in striking distance, trailing 24-33 with three matches remaining.

David Wilfert continued Orono’s momentum at 195 pounds as he pinned Charles Baker at the 1:40 mark of their match.

The Spartans then took a 36-33 lead when defending state champion Danny Striggow pinned Joe Reak at the 48 second mark of their match at 220 pounds.

The state tournament berth came down to the final match at 285 pounds and Shea Albrecht delivered for the Spartans. Albrecht pinned opponent Joe Hinkle at the 1:24 mark to give the Spartans a 42-33 victory and a trip to the Xcel Energy Center.

While the comeback came in the heavier weight classes, the Spartans had three other wrestlers record victories in the match.

Mason Pankonin won his match at 113 pounds with a 5-1 decision over Ethan Sylvester. Jacob Schmid recorded a 4-0 decision in his match at 145 pounds. Oliver Stevenson recorded a crucial pin at the 20 second mark of his match at 152 pounds.

While wrestlers from Orono have won five individual state championships, the school has never competed at the State Tournament as a team since the Minnesota State High School League started sponsoring the event in 1975.

The Spartans will now take part in the individual section tournament, which they will host on Saturday, Feb. 22. The State Tournament will be held Feb. 27-29 at the Xcel Energy Center.

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