Osakis senior Gage Zieske wrote on a card coming into the season one goal - state champ.
Head coach Joey Andreasen has often said that no one works harder than Zieske at trying to make sure a lofty goal like that comes to fruition.
Zieske did everything to set himself up to get that title at 138 pounds as he wrestled his way all the way to the championship match at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul last Saturday. That's where he ran into Kyle Cavanaugh (32-4) of Caledonia-Houston as Cavanaugh won an 11-1 major decision to win the title and give Zieske second place overall.
"My game plan going in was all stand up because I knew he was a good rider," Zieske said. "I knew I had to get that first shot off the bat."
Zieske went for a shot to the legs early in the first period to try to get the takedown, but Cavanaugh turned it around and got two points.
"He got the two on that, and it was kind of over after that," Zieske said. "He wasn't too quick. He was just a lot stronger than I thought he was going to be."
Zieske was disappointed in not winning the championship, but he called it a surreal experience getting to wrestle in the title match, especially with how things ended in St. Paul last year. He lived with the bad taste in his mouth of not placing then when Alex Borsgard (40-6 this season) of Windom-Mountain Lake pinned him with just seconds left in a match that Zieske was leading. Those two matched up in the semifinals this year, and Zieske got his revenge with a 12-7 win.
"I knew last year I was supposed to be a place winner," Zieske said. "This year, I figured I would be the champion, but it was a good feeling getting to the finals, especially after last year. Every day I thought about that match last year. That was the driving force coming into this year."
Zieske had to battle a little bit in his opening match of the tournament on Friday, but he won a 5-2 decision over Lincoln Carpenter (34-14) of Sibley East-Arlington. That sent him into a matchup with Willie Von Ruden (35-5) of Medford that Zieske won 7-4.
As one of the championship matches on Saturday, Zieske got to wrestle in front of a huge crowd. Fans fill the bottom level and much of the second level at the Xcel Energy Center for the state finals.
"I wasn't nervous," Zieske said. "I wish it would have been a little closer. That was kind of a butt kicking, so I'm not too happy about it."
Zieske wanted to end his career with a win, but he goes out with a 44-2 record as a senior, capping off a great three-year run after moving from Alexandria to Osakis after his freshman year.
"This was my third state tournament. A lot of ups and downs, but a lot of good," Zieske said. "I really enjoyed my transfer to Osakis. They accepted me there, and it was cool. No regrets."