Princeton's Tyler Wells remembers well the last loss of his high school career, because it's his only loss.

The senior 132-pounder, who has won three Class 2A state championships and will go for his fourth Saturday at the wrestling state meet in Xcel Energy Center, has won 162 matches since his freshman year.

He's lost just once, in a dual meet in his sophomore year, to a wrestler from St. Michael-Albertville. With a 162-1 record, it's not hard to remember the lone speed bump.

"Caleb Thoennes. He's graduated now," said Wells, who never got a rematch with Thoennes. "I would have liked another shot, but there's nothing I can do about it now."

Wells is soft-spoken, not prone to bursts of verbiage or bravado. He's not going to do any backflips or he-man poses after he wins. Everything he wants to say he says on the mat.

He does know that his favorite victory came in the 2022 state finals, when he beat Chase DeBlaere of Simley in the 132-pound final. "I wanted that match. It felt good to win that," Wells said.

But for this season, he just wants to go out on top, as a four-time state champ.

"I don't really think a lot ahead. I just go out there and wrestle my match," he said. "I just want to have a good end to my high school career."

New Prague revives and thrives

After taking second Thursday in the Class 2A team tournament, New Prague fared well in the opening rounds of the individual tournament Friday, with five wrestlers advancing to the semifinals.

Sophomore Lawson Eller (106 pounds) and seniors Koy Buesgens (145), Colton Bornholdt (152), Evan Farley (160) and Joey Novak (195) combined for eight pins in 10 victories. That included a pin by Novak 23 seconds into his first-round match.

The Trojans' Destiney Lofton will compete in the girls tournament Saturday.

Of New Prague's six participating wrestlers, only Buesgens has won a state title. Eller, Bornholdt and Novak each took second last year, while Farley took fourth.

Novak, who will wrestle next year at Wyoming, said his loss in last year's finals has motivated him.

"It got me working even when I didn't want to," he said. "It probably helped me the most in life so far in my wrestling career."

Novak's 2023 state tournament run follows a season in which he went 49-2 and beat one of the nation's top-ranked wrestlers in the Class of 2023, Waconia's Max McEnelly.

He said he's feeling confident and excited heading into the semifinals.

"I trained all year for this," he said. "I'm ready to have some fun and just go wrestle, honestly."

Meanwhile, Buesgens, who will wrestle next year at North Carolina State, is seeking a third straight state title. He said he, too, is feeling confident heading into the semifinals, adding that he's improved both in his technique and mind-set this year.

"[I'm] taking the pressure off myself, focusing on what I want and telling myself when I get out there, 'I'm the best,' " he said. "It works out when you tell yourself that."

Past champs excel

In Class 2A, all six wrestlers seeking to repeat as state champions made the semifinals.

Albert Lea junior Michael Olson (113 pounds), Simley senior Brandon Morvari (120), Mound Westonka junior Jack Nelson (126), Princeton senior Tyler Wells (132), New Prague senior Koy Buesgens (145) and Simley senior Gavin Nelson (220) each went 2-0 on Friday. Each is the top wrestler in his class. Combined, the group is 269-9 this year. Buesgens, Gavin Nelson and Wells are undefeated.

Morvari and Olson are each seeking a second state title, and Buesgens, Gavin Nelson and Jack Nelson are each seeking a third. Wells is seeking his fourth title.

Class 1A defending champs still alive: Trey Gunderson, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, 120 (won at 106 last year); Nolan Ambrose, Jackson County Central, 132 (113); Alex Diederich, Royalton/Upsala, 132 (126); Gavin Gust, Dover-Eyota, 160 (152); Anthony Sykora, West Central Area, 182 (170); Thomas Dineen, Benson, 195 (195); Ethan Boll, Crookston, 220 (220).

Jim Jackson returns

Guess who was spotted chatting up colleagues in the bowels of the Xcel Center: former Apple Valley and Shakopee coach Jim Jackson.

Jackson, who owns the best winning percentage for a coach in high school wrestling history, came out of retirement this season to guide the Staples-Motley program. The Cardinals had three wrestlers in the Class 1A tournament field.

Six from Simley move on

All 14 wrestlers for Class 2A team champion Simley qualified for the individual tournament. Six are still alive heading into Saturday's semifinals: Austin Grzywinski at 106, Brandon Morvari at 120, Cash Raymond at 152, Travis Smith at 182, Gavin Nelson at 220 and Soren Herzog at heavyweight.

Girls meet also ahead

The girls individual tournament takes place Saturday, with quarterfinals starting at 9 a.m. and championship matches beginning at 4 p.m. It's the second season for a girls state meet, and there's a single class.

Returning champions: Charli Raymond, Simley, 107 pounds (100 last year); Aspen Blasko, Forest Lake, 114 (107); Audrey Rogotzke, Stillwater, 120 (120); Joel Makem, Shakopee, 132 (126); Skylar Little Soldier, Hastings, 145 (132), Riley Myers, Eastview, 145 (138); Grace Alagbo, Apple Valley, 152 (145), Ella Pagel, Northfield, 165 (165).