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Photo: Ryder Rogotzke (top) of Stillwater Area High School pinned Cole Edwards of Prior Lake to win the 182-pound AAA Minnesota state title this winter. (Jeff Beshey/The Guillotine)
Note: This is the first part of the full-length feature on Ryder Rogotzke of Stillwater, Minn., the top high school pinner in 2021-22 who was named as WIN’s Junior Schalles Award winner. Click on the subscription link or call 888.305.0606 to get an annual 12-month subscription to WIN. Start your print or digital subscription with the May issue to read the remainder of the article on how Rogotzke believes he can break the Minnesota career record for falls by the end of his senior season next winter.
By Mike Finn
Ryder Rogotzke said he first saw himself as a pinner about the same time his father, Perry, first introduced the sport to this current high school junior from Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota.
“The one quote he built into my head was: ‘Send a message,’” said Rogotzke, who captured the 182-pound state championship this year by recording a state-record 44th pin in the state final. “Well, the best way to send a message for me has been to pin everyone.”
And that’s about what the future Naval Academy wrestler accomplished this past winter in a season that saw him also win a Super 32 championship last October and go 56-1. Ten of those victories came via a forfeit and only two of his victims lasted an entire match against Rogotzke, who learned to overcome any new defense used by his opponents; aware of his pinning reputation.
“I would just keep adapting moves, not changing my style or anything because the same moves would keep working,” said Rogotzke. “I adapt on how I’m doing the move and the set-up. It becomes more complicated, but the moves don’t change.
“People say I have a funky style so I’ll be in on a front head and I’ll kick their back leg out and they land in a cradle and I stick them. When I was younger, I had a wicked headlock, along with a three-quarter and that type of stuff.
“I’m not always going to land in it so I’m always pushing to set up the pin, rather than just getting back points.”
Such dominance and creativity are why Rogotzke was selected as the winner of WIN’s Junior Schalles Award, presented annually to the top high school pinner. The award is named after America’s greatest pinner, Wade Schalles, who once pinned 109 wrestlers in a college career at Clarion that also led to a pair of NCAA championships. Since 1999, he has been the namesake of both the Junior Schalles and Schalles Awards, given to the top pinners on the high school and college levels, respectively.
“Unconventional and exciting; those adjectives define Ryder Rogotzke,” said Schalles, who is thrilled to see the Minnesota native set to attend the Naval Academy where Schalles’ son Jake also competed. “To say I’m excited for his future as a collegiate wrestler as a Midshipman would be an understatement. No one is safe when they’re wrestling Ryder because he takes risks that others avoid. That’s how you become the nation’s best at putting people on their backs.”
Rogotzke’s pinning confidence that he got from his father is something possessed by his siblings, older brother Roman, who wrestles for South Dakota State, sister Audrey, who wrestled at 113 pounds on the boys team and won a Minnesota girls state championship this winter as an eighth grader, and younger brother Axel, who is in fifth grade.
“My dad installed a pinning mindset into me and in them and the coaches I’ve had the past 10 years have reaffirmed that,” Ryder said.