Willie Bastyr didn’t win a state championship this season but had the next-best thing – a victory over a wrestler who did win state.
Bastyr, a Lakeville South sophomore wrestling at the state tournament for the second time, placed fourth at 152 pounds in the Class 3A tourney last weekend at Xcel Energy Center and finished 33-7. One of those victories was against Shakopee senior Alex Lloyd, who defeated Anoka’s Tyler Eischens 6-4 to win his third state championship.
Bastyr and Lloyd wrestled three times in 2017-18 – once in a regular-season match, once at the Section 2 tournament and finally at state. Bastyr won the second of the three matches, a 7-5 overtime victory in the championship round at the section tourney. It was Lloyd’s only loss of the season.
In their rematch in the state semifinals, Lloyd won 13-6.
Did he show anything different in the match at state?
“Not really. I just didn’t use the game plan right,” Bastyr said.
Still, a state medal was a big prize for a wrestler with a bright future. Bastyr qualified for state at 145 last year but didn’t place. During the high school off-season, he took first in freestyle and second in Greco-Roman in the Cadet division at the USA Wrestling state tournament.
In the 2017-18 high school season, “the No. 1 goal was to place” at the state tournament, Bastyr said. “That would have been quite an accomplishment. Obviously I wanted to win, but placing is pretty good as a sophomore.”
Bastyr opened the state tournament with an 8-0 victory over Hopkins sophomore Demetrius Patton. He defeated Simon Bryce of Little Falls 8-6 in the second round, setting up the rematch with Lloyd in the semifinals.
Bastyr beat Jimmy Brown of Cambridge-Isanti 3-0 in his first wrestleback match before losing to Brody Nielsen of Albert Lea 8-7 in the third-place match.
A new coaching staff at Lakeville South, led by Nick Fornicoia, an NCAA Division III national champion at Augsburg College, helped Bastyr improve. “We did a lot of mental training this year and the technique was incredible,” Bastyr said.
The growth process resumed this week. Bastyr said he planned to resume weightlifting the day after the state meet and likely will have his first off-season tournament in a couple of weeks.
Both of Lakeville South’s state tournament qualifiers came away with medals. Jared Stewart, a junior, placed fifth at 195 pounds, defeating Cody Peterson of Centennial 3-2 in his final match. Stewart was 3-2 in the state tourney and 37-10 overall.
Stewart defeated Dylan Mills of Forest Lake 5-3 in the first round and Peterson 10-3 in the second round. A loss by fall to eventual champion Trey Rogers of Hastings sent Stewart to the wrestlebacks, where he lost another match by fall before rebounding with his second victory of the tournament over Peterson.