Northfield sophomore Caley Graber became the first girl to win a match in the boys wrestling state tournament when she pinned Saitaro Kong of Apple Valley at 1:29 in the first round of the Class 3A, 107-pound bracket Friday.

She said then she wasn't done, that what she wanted from the tournament was to make it to the podium.

She's there. Graber won her second match, too, defeating Mounds View's Owen LaRose 5-2. She will wrestle in the semifinals Saturday morning.

Graber won the girls 100-pound title a year ago. She decided then that she was going to test the boys competition.

So she's held down the 107-pound spot for Northfield all season and done so successfully. She's 41-4 this season.

"We talked about it before the season," Graber said. "I always wanted to beat the boys."

Graber, who has trained at Summit Wrestling Academy in Northfield since she was young, said her coaches backed her goal.

"My coaches have always been very supportive of whatever I choose to do," Graber said. "And that's a huge part of where I am today and where I am now."

Her head coach, Geoff Staab, made it clear nothing was fluky about Graber's victory.

"She's shown she can wrestle with the boys. She can can compete with them and beat them," he said.

Staab said Graber gave some thought to wrestling boys last year but chose not to.

"Then this year, from the beginning, her mind was set competing against the boys," Staab said. "From the get-go, she was like, 'I'm going to wrestle boys this year.' "

Staab wasn't at all surprised at the result Friday. "It's just her drive to succeed. She puts a lot of time into wrestling," he said.

While Graber was focused on the future, she acknowledged the significance of Friday's result.

"It's nice to know that I'm kind of paving the way for other girls and that a lot of younger girls that are joining wrestling look up to me," Graber said. "It's really nice to be able to show them that girls do have a place among the boys and that girls can do everything that those boys can do."

Woodbury's Alex Braun goes bigger

Woodbury 145-pounder Alex Braun has built a reputation as a consummate wrestler, proficient and skilled.

But the after spending two high school seasons without a loss, during which he won the Class 3A 138-pound championship in 2023, Braun felt like he needed a challenge to help him prepare for his collegiate future at Oklahoma.

So midway through January, he chose to move up to 152 pounds, seeking the opportunity to wrestle undefeated St. Michael-Albertville superstar Landon Robideau in the finals of a meet.

He lost 7-5 but made a strong run at the usually dominant Robideau. It proved to be Braun's only loss in two years, but he believes the loss paid dividends.

"I felt like I had to find something to challenge myself," Braun said. "Unfortunately I lost, but it was a good learning experience, a good match, and I know I can hang with the best kids, even at the weight above me."

Mounds View's Quin Morgan wrestles with an edge

It was a disappointing and deflating loss for Mounds View in the Class 3A finals Thursday, an ill-fitting end to an otherwise perfect season. Being routed by St. Michael-Albertville was difficult to swallow, senior 215-pound captain Quin Morgan said.

"STMA's a great team. A lot of studs throughout the whole lineup," Morgan said. "But there was a chip on our shoulders today. I know I had one. I wanted to go out and show the people here I was going to wrestle to the best of my ability."

Two Mustangs are still alive in the chase for a state championship: Brett Swenson at 114 pounds and Morgan.

Defending champs still alive

Seven state champions remain in the 3A bracket. The list, with their weight class as a champ in parentheses: Blake Beissel, Hastings (113), 121; Trey Beissel, Hastings, (106), 127; Alex Braun, Woodbury (138) 145; Landon Robideau, St. Michael-Albertville (132) 152; Jed Wester, St. Michael-Albertville (160), 172; Cole Han-Lindemyer, Farmington (182), 189; Mark Rendl, Forest Lake (220) 285.