Wrestling: Cougars, Bombers fall in section semifinals
ROCHESTER – Pins. Technical falls. Major decisions. All have one thing in common: Bonus points, bonus points, bonus points.
Those additional marks in the scorebook are often what separate two teams during a dual. And the extra points, while not necessarily glaring at the time, can make or break a season.
Zumbrota-Mazeppa found out the hard way Saturday during the Section 1A semifinals at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Chatfield, the second seed in the tournament, and the seventh-ranked team in Class A, held on to beat the Cougars, 33-32, for a spot in the championship dual.
To get to the title bout, the Gophers won eight of the 14 matches against Z-M. But, more importantly, Chatfield picked up at least four points in five of those victories. The Cougars, meanwhile, won six times, all but one of which was worth a minimum of five points.
“When you’re wrestling good teams like that, you can’t afford to give up any extra bonus points, and we did in a couple of spots. But, they also did, too,” said Z-M head coach Link Steffen. “They were just one point better than us. Man, it was a fun dual. The crowd got its money’s worth today. I feel good about the dual, but I also feel kind of bad because the boys worked so hard to win that dual and the next one if there was a next one.
“I feel bad for those seniors that poured their hearts and soul into that dual. But, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.”
The Cougars took two quick leads on the Gophers with pins from Hayden Stensland (106 pounds) and Joey Majerus (120). Chatfield would flex its muscle through the next five matches, earning three decisions between a major and a fall.
That set the score at 25-12 in favor of the Gophers. But it would not last long.
Dillon Downes (160), Noah Prodzinski (170) and Hunter Prodzinski (182) totaled 14 points between them to give Z-M a one-point lead heading into the 195-pound match.
And then the bonus points came again for Chatfield, and it put the dual out of reach.
Gophers Cody Bly (195) and Jacob Bleess (220) both won major decisions, giving Cougar heavyweight Shane Bode an impossible task: earn seven points to tie the dual.
Bode did his best, pinning Logan Karver. But, the six points came up short, sending Z-M into the individual portion of the postseason.
And that’s the difficult part for wrestlers, moving on from one end to the season, to the beginning of another.
“(We’re) one hundred-percent focused on individuals starting on Monday,” Steffen said. “We run our practices that way, and we cater to the individual starting this week. We really get them focused on wrestling a tournament style instead of a dual-style tournament. That’s how we prepare.”
The Cougars, and the rest of the section, will be back at Mayo Civic Center Friday and Saturday for the individual section tournament.
Chatfield, who placed third at last year’s state tournament, won the team title with a 41-14 dismantling of top-seeded, and eighth-ranked Kenyon-Wanamingo.
Champs too much for Bombers
Cannon Falls, who fell 37-24 to top seed and fifth-ranked Kasson-Mantorville in the Section 1AA semifinals, had its chances against the defending Class AA champions, including a five-weight winning streak that saw the Bombers take an 18-6 lead through 138 pounds.
But that put Cannon Falls squarely in the heart of the KoMet’s lineup, something K-M used to its decided advantage.
The Bombers lost the next four matches, one by decision, one by fall and two by technical fall, and, just like that, the KoMets were ahead 25-18.
But it was K-M’s ability to keep its shoulders off the mat that was the key to the early parts of the dual.
“They were good at keeping the matches close,” said Cannon Falls head coach Dudley Flodeen. “They did a good job. They’re coached well, I guess.”
Ryan Epps (120), Keston Lopez (126) and Connor Rohr (132) all picked up major decisions for the Bombers, but all three had their opponent turned at one point. But no KoMet heard the mat slapped against them, a possible four-point swing that was underscored later on when K-M picked up three additional pins, and two technical falls that Cannon Falls fell just short of accomplishing.
Paul Fitterer (113), Hayden Strain (138), Derek Johnson (182) and Clay Broze (220) also won matches for the Bombers, who will now focus on the individual Section 1A tournament that begins Friday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. The tournament concludes Saturday.
“We just have to focus on the individual stuff now, and figure out where people want to be for the section tournament,” Flodeen said, adding that the weights are “pretty much set, (but) we’ve got a couple of spots we’re not sure of yet.”
The KoMets would go on to defeat Albert Lea, 39-18, to earn their fifth-straight section championship.