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Pinning his opponent has long been the primary objective when wrestler Ryder Rogotzke takes to the mat.

Stillwater's senior 182-pounder tied a state record last season with 44 pins en route to the Class 3A championship. He's on the path to break the record this season, with a 32-1 record, 31 by pin.

"My goal this year has been to crush [the record]," he said. "I want to beat it by five, six, seven pins so that no one can take it for a long time," Rogotzke said.

Now another goal has emerged.

Rogotzke recently endured his first loss of the season, falling to three-time state champion Max McEnelly of Waconia 5-3.

"It was 3-2 with 30 seconds left, so I had to do something. So I gave up a takedown and got an escape and it ended up a two-point match," Rogotzke said.

He thinks — rather, he's certain, because self-confidence is not a problem for Rogotzke — he can flip that result around if he faces McEnelly again. So rather than roll through the 182-pound class in the postseason, his plan is to bump up to 195 pounds for the chance to wrestle McEnelly for a state championship.

"I'm not worried about losing at 182. But this is a tougher goal for me," he said. "There's room to improve by the time we meet again in seven weeks. I know I can beat him."

For now he has the weeks until the state championships March 2-4 to pile up pins.

For many wrestlers, shooting solely for pins can be risky. Few turn down a chance to stick an opponent and earn the extra three team points that go with it, but risk accompanies the effort. A sloppy move or a failure to finish the pin could cost points and put the match in jeopardy.

Rogotzke isn't worried about that. Agile, strong and savvy, he sees pins as his way to gain a psychological edge over opponents.

"It's a mentality. I'm not going out there not to lose, I'm going out there to win and pin every single opponent," he said. "I believe I'm better in every way. Some guys, they're going out there just to win or dominate or get a bunch of takedowns or something. My matches, even if I know I'm gonna get a bunch of takedowns, I will finish it with a pin."

In seeking pins, Rogotzke follows a list of must-dos.

"You need to always be looking for pins: from your feet, top, bottom," he said. "And I pay attention to where his balance is. If I know where his leverage is, I can think about turning and chin-dropping him on his back. And when I have him on his back, how do I keep him in the position?"

Rogotzke is a two-time winner at the nationally renowned Super 32 Tournament in North Carolina. The event brings together more than 1,700 nationally ranked wrestlers. Winning there reaffirmed his path, Rogotzke said.

It also led to a change in his future. Rogotzke pulled back his commitment to the U.S. Naval Academy and committed to wrestle at Ohio State next year after narrowing his choices to the Buckeyes and the Gophers. "I was pretty much just paying attention to Ohio State and Minnesota," he said.

Now he's paying attention to McEnelly and looking ahead to the state championship match in the 195-pound class at Xcel Energy Center.

"It will probably be the biggest match of the state tournament," Rogotzke said.