Stillwater senior Ryder Rogotzke went into the season with one stated goal. Early in the season, one became two, both carrying importance in equal amounts.

After Friday's first round of the wrestling state tournament at Xcel Energy Center, one goal has been reached. The other is still a pursuit.

With his second pin of the day in the 195-pound class, Rogotzke set a state record for pins in a season with 45. He had tied the record last year with 44.

"I came in this season looking to beat the record by a few pins," said Rogotzke, who is committed to Ohio State.

Always looking for a challenge, Rogotzke had one handed to him when he faced Waconia's Max McEnelly in December. Rogotzke, then a 182-pounder, lost to the 195-pound McEnelly 5-3. McEnelly immediately became his white whale. Rogotzke said then he'd wrestle at 195 in the postseason for a shot at McEnelly. Their potential pairing in the final looms as one of the highlights of the meet.

"I thought to myself, 'How else am I going to see this dude during the season unless I bump up to 195 for the state tournament?' " Rogotzke said.

Contrary to the common wrestling viewpoint, Rogotzke feels he's a better wrestler at the higher weight. Besides, he's not just looking for a title.

"I want to challenge myself and not take the super easy way out," he said. "I could win like last year, where I pinned everyone and no one scored and get my hand raised, or here, all eyes on me with the whole stadium watching."

Living that memory

Thursday's stunning rally to win the Class 3A team championship was still fresh in the minds of Hastings brothers Trey and Blake Beissel on Friday.

The brothers — Trey, a freshman 106-pounder, and Blake, a junior at 113 — are both ranked No. 1 in Class 3A at their weights. There was some individual business to take care of, but Blake admitted Thursday's exhilarating comeback victory, when Hastings won the final five matches, the last three by fall, to beat St. Michael-Albertville 33-32 provided added energy.

"It still doesn't feel real," he said. "Everyone was still high, still feeling great."

The older Beissel said coaches stressed before the individual tournament not to lose sight of the job at hand.

"Coach M [assistant coach Josh McLay] was telling us the job isn't finished," Blake said. "We didn't come for just one medal. We came to medal in both. We want to be individual and team champions as well."

Both Beissels advanced to the Class 3A semifinals after winning twice Friday.

The opposite viewpoint

St. Michael-Albertville's Mason Mills, the 113-pound champion last year, saw the other side of Thursday's remarkable Class 3A finish.

Mills said winning a championship last year paid off this year.

"Being a top wrestler, you just got to break through, flip your mind-set and forget about it," said Mills, who won twice at 120 pounds Friday. "It was about putting it in the past. Yesterday was about team, but these next two days are about me."

Missed it, regained it

Wrestling has been far and away the driving force in Prior Lake senior Alan Koehler's life.

A two-time Class 3A state champion, he won twice at 126 pounds Friday. Koehler has long been familiar with success, at the high school, regional and national level, but an injury to his left knee before the season lit a motivational fire.

"It was super tough sitting out," he said. "Watching my teammates and all the tournaments they got to go to while I was just sitting there. I used it as a time to reflect, realize what my goals were. I think I benefited from that time off."

There's a greater sense of appreciation now, said Koehler, who has signed to wrestle at Nebraska next year.

"It made me really think about not taking anything for granted," he said. "During wrestling season, it's hard making weight every week. You can get a little down on yourself. But it made me realize how much I love the sport and how badly I wanted to get back."

Can't quit it

Anoka senior 145-pounder Eli Paulson, the son of U.S. Olympian Brandon Paulson, is into the semifinals after winning a pair of decisions Friday. Paulson committed to play football at St. Thomas as a slot receiver after leading the state in receptions last fall.

But the state tournament is not Paulson's swan song in wrestling. He's planning to wrestle both freestyle and Greco-Roman in tournaments this summer and will continue to coach at PINnacle Wrestling School, a business co-owned by his father.

"You can't just walk away from wrestling," Paulson said with a smile.

After a runner-up finish in 2022, Paulson said he's zeroed in on a state championship this year.

"I'd love that after getting so close last year," he said. "There's a lot of good guys in the bracket, but I'm feeling good right now."

A perfect leader

For four seasons before this one, Lakeville North wrestling was personified by Jore Volk and Zach Hanson, both of whom won Class 3A individual championships last year.

Volk has graduated, but Hanson, a senior 152-pounder, is back and happy to take on the mantle of leadership. Hanson is 32-0 after winning twice Friday.

"This year, not having Jore kind of stinks because he was my guy for so long. We trained together for three, four years," Hanson said. "But being able to see how all of our guys have developed has been fun."

With his wrestling future set at Stanford, Hanson said that, other than winning another state title, the best part of his season has been shepherding the growth of his teammates. The Panthers sent six wrestlers to the tournament this year.

"I wouldn't say it's been more leadership than any year past, but it's been elevated," he said. "They're coming to me, looking for help with technique things, giant things, and I'm happy to help. Just to see them have success, punch their tickets to the tournament and have some fun, it's awesome."