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Kaden Nicolas had been waiting a year for Saturday night. The Becker junior lost in the 133-pound finals to Mound Westonka's Jack Nelson in 2023 and made retribution his point of emphasis all season.

He got his payback, ending Nelson's bid for a fourth state championship with a 5-4 victory in the 139-pound finals of the wrestling state tournament at Xcel Energy Center.

Nelson was open about his goal of another state championship and was quoted in print about it.

"I read it," Nicolas said, and he admitted he used it as motivation. "One-hundred percent. I spent every day thinking about this match. I knew he was the guy to beat. I was gunning for him. Last year, I got pinned. I was like, 'I got one year. I'm gonna be back.' "

That attitude paid off in the form of a state title.

"Last year I went to practice, but I just went through the motions," he said. "This year, I had something in mind, and I just gunned it."

At 145 pounds, Nolan Ambrose of Jackson County Central became a four-time state champion, overcoming The Guillotine's No. 1-ranked wrestler, Gavin Johnson of Kenyon-Wanamingo.

Near Ambrose was his family. Seven members sat in the row closest to the mat, each wearing a white shirt with a letter. It all spelled A-M-B-R-O-S-E in glittery blue.

His family is visible in showing support, but Jeremy Ambrose, Nolan's father, called Nolan a "quiet and humble kid" who worked hard earn his state title.

Champs clash

In Class 1A, the 127-pound weight class produced a title bout between two defending champions. Donovan Schmid of Mille Lacs moved up to 127 after he won at 120 and faced the defending 127-pound champion, Devin Carter of Tracy-Milroy-Balaton-Westbrook-Walnut.

Schmid, following teammate Zach Remer's championship in the weight class below, defeated Carter 9-2.

"I dominated him pretty much," Schmid said. "I didn't give him the opportunity to do any of his stuff."

Remer defeated Reed Sommer of Mille Lacs 10-3.

Kruse cruises

Totino-Grace senior 215-pounder Cy Kruse became the first wrestler in state history to record 50 or more pins in a season when he pinned Caleb Johnson of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton at 1:53 in the Class 2A championship match.

Kruse pinned all seven of his opponents in the tournament and finished his season with 51 pins.

The final victor

Keegan Kuball of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown-Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton returned to the tournament looking to defend his sophomore-year title in the Class 1A 285-pound heavyweight class. In the last match of the tournament, Kuball took down West Central-Ashby senior Will Rustan 7-2.

Kuball, with a smile, raised his arms in glory, looking around the stadium as fans cheered and the tournament ended.