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Three Gators return home with state medals


The Gator coaches and state tournament wrestlers pose together following action from the Minnesota state wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Pictured are (L-R): Assistant Coach Brandon Waage, Head Coach Isaac Novacek, Sarah Pulk, Ethan Waage, Caleb Vacura, Nathan Waage, Assistant Coach Efrem Novacek, and Assistant Coach Cody Brazier. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Caleb Vacura hugs his head coach Isaac Novacek after claiming a 9-5 win over Jackson County Central’s Caleb Vancura in the Class A 182-pound third place match. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Sarah Pulk smiles as she gets her hand raised following a pin over St. Charles’ Noelle Barclay, clinching her a third place state finish. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Gator seventh grader Sarah Pulk (Girls 165) works from the neutral position versus Northfield’s Ella Pagel in her state semifinal match at the inaugural Minnesota state girls wrestling tournament. Pulk fell by pin, but won her next match. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Gator senior Ethan Waage smiles after securing his state quarterfinal win and assuring himself of a state medal. Waage went on to finish fifth. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Ethan Waage (170) works for position during his state quarterfinal match versus Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted’s Collin Boese. Waage won 10-8 in overtime to advance to the semifinals, assuring him of his first career state medal. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Caleb Vacura (182) works for nearfall points during his state quarterfinal win over Red Rock Central’s Vander Mathiowetz. Vacura won 12-6 to advance to the semifinals, assuring him of a third career state medal. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Gator senior Nathan Waage (285) works for position in his first round state tournament match versus Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City’s Terrell Renne. Waage led early, but fell by pin late in the third period. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Senior Caleb Vacura hugged Gator Head Wrestling Coach Isaac Novacek and Assistant Coach Cody Brazier before walking off the mat for the final time as a Gator wrestler following his last state tournament match— one ending in a win.

Fellow Gator senior wrestler Ethan Waage opened his state tournament with a milestone win— career victory 100.

Gator seventh grade wrestler Sarah Pulk smiled as she got her hand raised after winning a match at the inaugural girls state tournament.

These marked just several of the many memories made for the Gators at this year’s state wrestling tournament, held March 3-5 back at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Four Gator wrestlers, in seniors Ethan Waage (170), Caleb Vacura (182), and Nathan Waage (285), and Sarah Pulk (Girls 165) traveled to the state tournament and three returned to “The Swamp” with state medals. Vacura and Pulk each finished third, and Ethan Waage fifth.

With the end of this season brings the official end of the three Gator seniors’ careers: Ethan Waage, Caleb Vacura, and Nathan Waage. This season, they each won section titles and earned at least 32 wins— accounting for 108 wins combined. These three seniors also participated on the team’s two most recent section title teams.

“The last three, four years, we’ve been on a pretty dang good run and they’ve been a part of it all… They’re the last group that was a part of it all,” Gator Head Coach Isaac Novacek said. “ So when I say it’s an end of an era, it really is. It means a lot. It’s going to be tough to see them go, but very proud, very proud.”

To see the complete story, read the March 9 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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