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Wrestlers seeking fourth state titles arrive at semifinals unsullied

Jackson Country Central's Nolan Ambrose has wrestled at state in three different weight classes and won the tournament each time.

Now he wants a fourth title, and he took steps toward that Friday at Xcel Energy Center. Ambrose advanced to the Class 1A semifinals in the 145-pound class with a pin of Tanner Viessman of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

That fourth title would ring just right, he said: "It would mean a lot, seeing the hard work paying off, getting what I want."

It's Ambrose's last season before he wrestles for Augustana in college, and he is confident but also focused.

"There will always be nerves, but I'd say I'm less nervous this year," Ambrose said. "I've been here before. It's about focusing less on the outcome and more on what I can control."

Ambrose is one of two wrestlers in trying to join the elite group of Minnesotans who have won four state titles. Mound Westonka senior 139-pounder Jack Nelson is the other. He is making his fifth state tournament appearance, in Class 2A.

Nelson cruised into the semifinals with two no-worries victories Friday. He has made no secret of wanting to join the elite group of four-time champions.

"I'm feeling good, I'm ready to go," said Nelson, who will wrestle for the Gophers next year.

He learned the secret to the state tournament not when he won but when he lost.

"You have to always believe in yourself," he said. "Anything can happen at any time in the match. I was a young kid here, and I know what it's like to lose one. I I never want to feel that feeling again."

Twins move on to semifinals

There is little at which Titan and Joe Friederichs, talented, wiry twin sophomores from Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran, don't compete.

That, they agree, is what makes them so good.

Joe, slightly smaller and 46 minutes older, advanced to Saturday's Class 2A semifinals with back-to-back technical falls in the first two rounds of the 114-pound bracket. Titan, slightly bigger, slightly younger and the only one of the twins with a state title (he was the 113-pound champion in 2023) won a pair of major decisions and remains undefeated at 48-0.

Typical of brothers, the twins argue a lot — "Over little things, really little things," Titan said — but there is one thing they agree on.

"I wouldn't be anything without him," Joe said, nodding at his brother. "And I wouldn't be anywhere without him," Titan responded, pointing at his brother.

Joe admits that he wants a state championship like his brother, and both readily say their biggest goal is to do well at the U.S. Junior Nationals, held in Fargo each summer.

"Fargo is way harder," Joe said.

But the biggest driver of envy between the Friederichs brothers is the comfy bed at home that is Titan's right now. "It should be mine," Joe said. "I beat him in rock-paper-scissors."

Titan shook his head. "No, you didn't," he said.

Typical.

Cy Kruse is pinning them down

How dominant has Totino-Grace senior 215-pounder Cy Kruse been in the tournament? Kruse, who set the state record for pins in a season during Thursday's team competition, has pinned all five of his opponents this week, including two in individual competition Friday, in a combined time of just 6 minutes, 59 seconds.

Slimmer Simley

In Class 2A, Simley put three wrestlers into the semifinals: Austin Grzywinski at 114, Justus Heeg at 133 and Cash Raymond at 152.

It is a stark difference from last season, when six wrestlers placed and four finished as champions.

"It's been a rollercoaster," Simley coach Will Short said. "You got three kids who are doing really well and then you got some heartbreaking losses. I've been a coach for a while. You know how to live through all the wins and all the losses."

Charli Raymond, Cash's sister, returns to the girls tournament undefeated and will wrestle for her third state championship Saturday.

"We'll look at our next opponents and we'll gain confidence with each match," Short said. "I do not see us at a point where we are changing who we are."

Champ is hurting but winning

Last year's Class 1A heavyweight state champion, junior Keegan Kuball of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown/Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, moved on to the semifinals but not without shaking his hand in pain.

Kuball said it was "just some bruising" and that he will be ready to compete in the next round against Ogilvie's Dylan Smith.

Kuball is 40-4 for the second consecutive season and understands the challenge ahead.

"It gets easier as I get older, but it's the state tournament, everyone is good," Kuball said.