State Wrestling: Five from area ready for Class A individual tournament
Experience paid off for Zumbrota-Mazeppa Saturday as the Cougars wound up with three individual state qualifiers from the Section 1A tournament.
Junior Joey Majerus (113 pounds) will head to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for the fourth-consecutive season, while senior Cody Heitman (145) is back for the second time in three years after missing out in 2013. Senior Hunter Prodzinski (182) is making his first trip to state.
Majerus, ranked third at 120 but wrestling a weight below that, is looking to improve on two third-place finishes in 2011 and 2012, and a fourth-place medal last year.
“He wants to win a state title,” said Z-M head coach Link Steffen. “What makes it even tougher is he’s coming off a loss this past weekend against a very good wrestler. He’s got to overcome that and half the bracket is rated in state.”
The path to the finals will be a tough one for Majerus, but Steffen and his staff are not worried about a four-time state entrant being ill prepared for the task at hand.
“We help him a little bit, but Joey can take care of himself, too,” said Steffen. “For the most part, Joey takes care of a lot of his own stuff. We try to motivate him in different ways, as with each of our kids.”
Heitman, who is ranked eighth and did not place in his previous trip to state, will have to take his mind back to 2012, to make sure that any nerves are calmed before taking on Class A’s top ranked 145-pounder, Larry Bomstad of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
“The second time, it’s not so scary,” said Steffen. “He’s been up there before, and he only wrestled one match the last time, so we’re hoping he can get in and get placed. He’s got a tough first-round draw with Bomstad. That’s good and bad because if you end up losing, that guy is more than likely going to win because he’s 42-0 and a state champion and he’s a tough kid. Cody will go after him, but if things don’t work out, it’s likely he’ll continue on and keep Cody alive for at least two matches.”
Prodzinski, who Steffen calls a “team wrestler,” exorcised some demons at May Civic Center, losing 6-4 to Niko Anderson of Fillmore Central/Lanesboro/Mabel-Canton, the top-ranked 182-pounder in Class A. Prodzinski, who is ranked 10th, did not have a true-second place match at sections.
“(Prodzinski’s) never really wrestled well in individual tournaments, so this is a whole new experience for him,” Steffen said. “He obviously wrestled well last weekend in the individual sections, and I can see it means something to him. He wants to do well, going out in his senior year. And I think he can win some matches.
“But it’s the state tournament,” Steffen added. “You have to be ready, and that’s what we’re going to try to do with each one of these guys this week as we try to prepare them as best we can and try to simulate that state tournament in practices as much as you can.”
Another area wrestler will have a similar draw as Heitman as Goodhue’s Matthew Lexvold, a senior, will face No. 1 Louie Sanders of Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in the 126-pound Class A bracket. That bout will come a few weights before the area’s final state qualifier takes the mat in Lake City’s Shane Siewert, who placed fifth last year. The ninth-ranked senior Tiger will compete at 152 pounds.
The Class A individuals will take the mat at 9 a.m. Friday with quarterfinal matches starting at approximately 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday, all consolation quarterfinals will begin at 9:30 a.m. with championship semifinals following at 10:45 a.m. The consolation semifinals will resume around 12:45 p.m. Third- and fifth-place matches will commence at 4:30 p.m., with championship bouts scheduled for 7 p.m.
Area first-round opponents
126: Matthew Lexvold (27-12) vs. (1) Louie Sanders of LC-WM (34-2)
152: (No. 9) Shane Siewert (23-3) vs. Dylan Pullis of Border West (29-10)
113: (3-120) Joey Majerus (37-3) vs. Pelican Rapids' Danny Franco (25-8)
145: (8) Cody Heitman (26-7) vs. (1) Larry Bomstad of ACGC (42-0)
182: (10) Hunter Prodzinski (36-6) vs. (7) Nathan Brinker of Holdingford (29-7)