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Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Mitchell Watkins (right) positions himself for a takedown on Kasson-Mantorville's Logan Adank during their 138-pound match Thursday at Mazeppa Middle School. Watkins won by pinfall at 3 minutes, 40 seconds.

Wrestling: Cougars crushed by Kasson-Mantorville

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Wrestling: Cougars crushed by Kasson-Mantorville
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MAZEPPA -- In 3 1/2 years on the Zumbrota-Mazeppa wrestling team, senior Mitchell Watkins had never missed a single practice.

Then came Monday.


"I've never had influenza my whole life," Watkins said. "Then Monday came and I never felt anything like it before. I went to the doctor and I had Influenza Type B. I was worried about it and I took two days off. ... Every day, worse than the sickness, was thinking about the practice I was missing."

When Watkins, ranked 7th in Class 1A at 138 pounds, hit the mat for his match against Kasson-Mantorville's Logan Adank, everything subsided for a short time.

"Wednesday and today, I didn't feel like myself, but 45 minutes before the match, you got to just block everything out," Watkins said. "You suffer for an hour, then you go home and sleep. It's that simple."

It took Watkins just 3 minutes, 40 seconds to take care of business in a pinfall victory at 138 pounds.

Even through sickness, Watkins admitted he didn't have his best match, but he couldn't complain about the end result.

"He said he'd come out to wrestle and he wasn't going to miss it come Hell or high water," said Cougars head coach Link Steffen. "That's just a testament to the kind of kid he is. That's why he wins matches and that's why he's a good wrestler."

The rest of the dual proved to be a grind for 11th-ranked (1A) Z-M, as the KoMets, -- ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and No. 17 in the country -- cruised to a 61-6 victory.

"They got a nice group of seniors that have been there for quite a while," Steffen said. "They're a tough team."

Starting with a pin by Keaton Schorr over Spencer Defrang at 106 pounds, Kasson-Mantorville opened Thursday's Hiawatha Valley League dual with a 25-0 lead.

Already down 16-0, the Cougars were dealt a major blow at 126 pounds. Joey Majerus, ranked No. 3 at 113 pounds (1A), moved up two weight classes to face the KoMets' Nate Thomas, ranked No. 2 at 126 pounds (2A). In the third period, Majerus was slammed to the mat hard and had to forfeit the rest of the match on an injury default.

"It was a 113-pounder wrestling against a 126-pounder," Steffen said. "That was a match we couldn't control. ... That's the way that goes."

The lone bright spot for Z-M came from Watkins, who tallied all six of the Cougars' points on Thursday.

At 182 pounds, Z-M's Andy Siems was tied at 0-0 with Kasson-Mantorville's Harrison Barnes after two periods. Ultimately, Barnes' aggressiveness on the mat overwhelmed the more timid Siems, who fell in a 4-1 decision.

In the final two matches, the KoMets slammed the door on the Cougars with Bryce Seljan and Sam Stoll winning by pinfall at 220 and 285 pounds, respectively.

This weekend, the Cougars make the trek to southwest Minnesota for a pair of meets. On Friday, Z-M wrestles in a triangular in Olivia against Redwood Valley and host BOLD. Then on Saturday, the Cougars head to a quadrangular hosted by No. 4 (1A) Wabasso/Red Rock Central. Adrian (No. 7, 2A) and Canby will also be at Saturday's meet.

Joe Brown
Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.
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