Max McEnelly never really understood the dramatic buildup.
A Waconia senior wrestler, McEnelly had been successful in previous matchups with Stillwater's Ryder Rogotzke. He still feels the hype surrounding their highly anticipated bout in the Class 3A, 195-pound final at the wrestling state meet — arguably the most anticipated match of the tournament — was fine for the interest it drew to wrestling and as a learning tool, but he never felt like it was the tossup many believed.
McEnelly, headed to the Gophers for college, and Rogotzke, bound for Ohio State, were certainly both prominent but …
"I beat him the last three times we wrestled," McEnelly said. "I know a lot of people wanted to see that match because we're both highly recruited, and he's so good he can pin anybody, but I knew I could win again if I just wrestled my match."
He did, scoring two points with a third-period takedown and holding on for a 3-2 victory. Not only did McEnelly win the showcase showdown, he won his fourth individual state championship, becoming the 30th in state history to win four.
All that made him the Star Tribune's 2022-23 Metro Wrestler of the Year.
McEnelly admitted that winning the final match of his high school career, after the buildup and the challenges thrown his way by Rogotzke, was a little more special.
"I obviously want to win every match, but I probably did want to win it a little more," said McEnelly, who will spend the next few months competing for U.S. Open and World Junior championships before he joins the Gophers.
"Mostly because it was my last one and I was going for four [championships]. I've got a lot of great memories of good times and hard times with my team and my teammates. They've all been in my corner and believed in me. I never could have done any of it without them."