Senior Dominik Vacura had a plan and a confidence going onto the mat for the last time as a Gator wrestler.
The stakes? A chance to win his third individual state title.
The opponent? Breckenridge’s Daniel Erlandson.
“Before the match even started, I kind of knew that I was going to try to dominate the whole match,” Vacura said. “I knew I was bigger. I knew that my technique was… a lot better. And I knew to use my weight to my advantage and get on top and get to the turns.”
Nine seconds into the match, Vacura scored a takedown and got to work on top. Vacura turned Erlandson, but he battled off his back with just under a minute left in the first period. Vacura turned Erlandson again and this time finished the job, recording the pin with 17 seconds left in the first period.
Dominant was the way Vacura’s Head Coach Isaac Novacek described his state finals performance. This type of a performance didn’t surprise Coach Novacek.
“It was kind of funny. I was talking with my dad (Assistant Coach Efrem Novacek) going into his finals match,” Coach Novacek said, “and (his mom) Lisa came and took a picture of him in the tunnel and we were talking how that would usually mess the kid’s focus up.”
Coach Novacek explained how this would not impact Vacura. He highlighted how Vacura knew what his goal was.
“He’s so focused. He’s so dialed in all the time,” Coach Novacek said. “And the quote I’ve been telling him all day was, ‘Hey the lights are bright. The lights are bright.’ And what I mean by that is when the lights are bright, Dominik always shines his best and he was shining today.”
While raising his arms in victory, Vacura looked to the Gator fans in attendance and held up three fingers to signify his third state title. He then hugged the two Novacek coaches before walking off the mat.
Besides Vacura’s state championship finish, three other Gators also competed at the Class A Individual State Wrestling Tournament held at St. Michael-Albertville High School on March 27. Caleb Vacura (182) earned fourth place, and Garrett Undeberg (145) and Ethan Waage (160) fell short of placing.
Dominik Vacura advanced to this title match with a first period pin over Minneota’s Jackson Esping and then a 14-3 major decision over Deer River’s Jojo Thompson.
With this final victory, Vacura ends his Gator career with not only three individual state titles— the second most in program history— but also a program-record 216 career wins, and five total individual state medals.
When asked what he is most proud of looking back at his Gator career, he said that was a tough question, but focused on the goals he had achieved and even one he did not in his final season.
“My goal this year was to get the school record (for wins). And after that, obviously, it’s the next best thing, that was three state championships, and I achieved my goals this year,” Vacura said. “I wanted to go undefeated. (I) went undefeated. One of my other goals was to not get taken down this year. I did not get that, (as) I got took down once this year.”
Asked what he will miss about being a Gator, Vacura highlighted the teammates.
“(I’m going to miss) going into the practice room every day (and) having a great time with everybody,” Vacura said, who has committed to wrestling for North Dakota State University. “… That’s definitely my most favorite part, going in there every day, wrestling with my brothers, and getting better with the team.”
To see the complete story, read the March 31 issue of The Tribune in print or online.