Wrestling: Tartan gains ‘State’ with Section 4AAA grappling title

In the Section 4AAA wrestling matches, held at Woodbury High School Feb. 15, the Tartan High School Titans went into the day as underdogs.

As the mats were being rolled up and the Titans were boarding the bus to head home, they had spent the day living up to their name and were riding high as the 2014 Section 4AAA champions.  

For only the second time in the history of the Oakdale institution, Tartan was heading to the Minnesota State Class AAA Wrestling Tournament as a section champion.

The last time a Tartan wrestling team represented Section 4AAA was in 2008.

“It was a tough day for us all around,” stated Tartan head coach Dan Recchio. “We beat Central (59-15) and then went up against White Bear Lake. That was a very tough match for us, but we were able to pull that out (45-31) in the end.”

For the championship, Tartan wrestled against a favored Woodbury team on its “home” mats.

“We knew it would be tough for us. We don’t have anyone wrestling at the 195 weight, so we bumped our bottom guys up a weight. We were behind so we needed them to win big for us,” stated Recchio.

The weight classes that were “bumped” up included Eli McGeehan from 170 to 182, TJ O’Hara from 182 to 195.

“Not only did we need those guys to perform at a higher weight class, we needed them to come through ‘big’ for us.

“They performed their absolute best in the pressure-packed situations,” Recchio said.

At 182 pounds McGeehan picked up six points with a pin. At 195 O’Hara picked up five points with a technical fall.

Then, at 220 pounds, Jake Paulson pulled the Titans to within three points when he gained five points and won by a technical fall.

The match then came down to the final heavyweight in which Tartan’s Jason Telin needed to gain a win by major decision to give the Titans the title.

“It is nice having a kid like that (Telin) at the top of your lineup. I was confident he would win. I just didn’t know he would do it so quickly,” the coach said.

Telin not only picked up the three points by which the Titans were trailing, but he decisively pinned his opponent in just 40 seconds.

Telin’s pin gave the match to Tartan by a 35-32 margin and that pushed them to their second title in the school’s history.

But Recchio emphasized, “It wasn’t just those last guys that came through for us. We needed everybody to do their job, and they absolutely did.

“Up and down the line Woodbury was figuring on pins to gain maximum points. Throughout our lineup our guys did a nice job minimizing points Woodbury would score.

“It was truly a great team effort and team win for us. Overall it was just a pretty awesome day!” said the smiling Recchio.

Next up, the action will turn to North High Feb. 21-22, when the Section 4AAA individual titles will be determined.

The state wrestling tournament will be held Feb. 27-28 and March 1 at the Xcel Center in St. Paul.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com.

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