Wrestling: 106 pounds, 100 percent
Less than a year ago, Taylor Venz was wrestling as a 91-pounder at national youth tournaments. Coming off a high school season where he went 3-4 while going up against varsity opponents in the 103-pound weight class, the seventh-grader knew he would have to put on some weight to be successful.
Ten months and 15 pounds of muscle later, Venz is the first Farmington eighth-grader to qualify for the state wrestling tournament. He captured the Section 1AAA title at 106 pounds by going 3-0 last weekend at Shakopee.
"Last year I was really small compared to the other guys I wrestled. I was wrestling at 91 pounds, so 103 was pretty big," Venz said. "I was really pumped for the summer so I could get a lot stronger and have a good season this year."
A summer filled with weight lifting, wrestling camps, running, and plenty of sit-ups and push-ups, paid off for Venz in a big way. He has a record of 30-5 and is ranked 10th in his weight division in Class 3A.
"I just keep trying to improve everywhere I can," Venz said. "I like to wrestle smart, stay offensive and not hold anything back. I go 100 percent in all my matches, push the pace and never give up."
Venz quickly disposed of his first opponent at the Section 1AAA tournament, earning a pin in 35 seconds. He then edged Isaac Loosbrook of Chaska, 2-1, in the semis before upsetting fifth-ranked Collin DeGrammont of Lakeville North 10-2 in the finals. DeGrammont had beaten Venz twice in the last month.
"I had those two matches to watch film on, so I knew more about him," Venz said. "I was mentally focused and just really ready for that match."
Venz now advances to face Willmar's Logan Walkow (29-11) in the first round of the state tournament tomorrow morning at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"I think it was a good draw. I should be able to beat him," Venz said. "I'm really looking forward to wrestling at the state tournament."
No other Tiger wrestlers punched state tickets, but a near-record nine finished as section place-winners. Only the 1995-96 team had more with 10.
"I am very proud of how our wrestlers finished the season. Not only did we tie for the second most Section place-winners in history, but seniors Ridge Raddatz, Trevor Breezley and Tyler Engel did not place but the last matches they wrestled were the best of their careers," Farmington coach Chad Olson said. "It is great to see them go out on their best performances."
Jacob Gabbard and Joe Hoeve each lost true-second matches to place third at 113 and 152 pounds, respectively. Gabbard finished with a record of 25-5 and Hoeve 27-12.
Dakoda Louis-Dupay was fourth at 220 pounds and John Walz, Jake Rudeen and Bret Hoffman each finished fifth. Matt Rustad and Chris McCue each placed sixth.
Of the nine section place-winners, only Hoffman and Louis-Dupay are seniors.
"The whole team is going to be awesome next year," Venz said. "We have good teammates that push each other. I'm pretty excited for the future."