Pleski earns spot on the wall

Forest Lake junior James Pleski battles top-ranked Seth Gross of Apple Valley during the state meet. Pleski fell 7-1 in the semifinal, but bounced back to place third, his best finish in four state appearances.

Forest Lake junior James Pleski battles top-ranked Seth Gross of Apple Valley during the state meet. Pleski fell 7-1 in the semifinal, but bounced back to place third, his best finish in four state appearances.

 

Forest Lake junior James Pleski made his fourth individual state wrestling meet appearance on Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The grappler came away with some hardware and the right to join the program’s greats by having his framed picture hang in the high school wrestling room.

Pleski captured third place at 138 pounds in Class AAA by going 4-1 on the tournament. His only blemisch came against top-ranked, three-time state champion Seth Gross of Apple Valley.

Pleski opened the tournament with a 9-1 win over No. 7 Alex Coleman of Shakopee, then beat fifth-ranked Philip Anderson of Rogers, 11-4.

The 138-pounder ran into Gross in the semifinals, and lost 7-1 to the future Iowa Hawkeye before clawing his way into the third-place match with a 12-7 win over No. 8 Austin Eichmann of Hastings.

Pleski faced fourth-ranked Miles Patton of Rochester Mayo, and won 7-3 for his best finish at the state tournament. He took fourth place at 113 pounds in 2012.

Head coach Joe Kunshier said Pleski wrestled hard all weekend.

“I think he had a really good tournament,” Kunshier said. “He expected to do everything he could to be a state champ and he did that, just got outmatched there in the semifinals, where he gave up his first back points of the season.”

Kunshier added his displeasure at the structure of the individual state tournament, which Pleski entered as the No. 2 wrestler in his weight class.

“They need to start seeding the tournament,” Kunshier said. “He is without a doubt the second-best wrestler, and it’s important that the Minnesota State High School League realizes the importance of those seedings—it could have been a different match against Gross since the atmosphere in the finals is so different. And it happens to a lot of wrestlers, not just James.”

Pleski’s record over the past four state-bound seasons is 138-39, including his best record of 41-5 this season.

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