Wrestling: Z-M stuns Nos. 1 and 2 seeds to win Section 1A crownROCHESTER – For Zumbrota-Mazeppa sophomore heavyweight Shane Bode the Section 1A wrestling championship felt like a movie and he played the star.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
ROCHESTER – For Zumbrota-Mazeppa sophomore heavyweight Shane Bode the Section 1A wrestling championship felt like a movie and he played the star.
Bode, who came in with a 12-24 season record, delivered a 10-0 major decision victory at 285 pounds to secure the Cougars’ third consecutive section crown with a 33-31 victory over Kenyon-Wanamingo at the Mayo Civic Center.
The drama proved too much for Bode’s mother, Marie, to watch and she spent the entirety of Bode’s match kneeling with her back to the action, ears plugged and crying as her son, who she calls, “The Gentle Giant” brought home the title for Z-M in dramatic fashion.
“It just felt like every great American story,” Shane said.
The “Gentle Giant” stands at 6-foot-6 but never stood taller on the wrestling mat. The Cougars needed a decision in the final match for a tie but Bode did one better. With the Z-M crowd on its feet and chanting “Shane” Bode scored a three-point near fall in the second period to go up 8-0 and secure a four-point victory.
“This has been our goal all year,” sophomore Chase Steffen said. “This whole week has been nothing but ‘section champs, section champs.’”
Bode’s moment served as just one of several for the Cougars on a day where they needed everything to fall into place.
Steffen provided a spark for the fifth-seeded Cougars in their upset victory over No. 1 seed Chatfield with a 12-11 last-second decision over Jeremy Benike at 152 pounds. Steffen, who suffered a neck injury earlier in the season, aggravated the injury during the match with 24 seconds left and trailing 11-7. Steffen didn’t know if he could finish the match, but found a way to get a takedown and a three-point near fall for the victory.
“I said, ‘You have 24 seconds left, can you just not get pinned, because if he quits it’s another three points for them,” Z-M head coach Link Steffen said.
The Cougars rolled after that and picked up three consecutive falls en route to a 37-28 victory.
“Something like that … it gives you a lot of motivation,” junior Mitchell Watkins said. “Just seeing Chase win said, ‘If chase can win after being out for a little bit, we can win.’”
The momentum from the win over Chatfield seemed destined to peter out against second-seeded Kenyon-Wanamingo, who defeated Wabasha-Kellogg 38-21 to reach the finals, as the Knights grabbed a 22-8 lead after the 138 pound match.
But the two-time defending section champs weren't going to abdicate the throne without a fight. As it happened the first time the Knights and Z-M met Dec. 6 in Cannon Falls where Matt Hodgeman pinned Mitchell Donkers at heavyweight for a 33-29 Cougars win, the second meeting came down to the wire.
Sophomore Cody Heit picked up a 3-0 victory over Kevin Hope at 145 and Steffen delivered a pivotal victory again with a 1-0 win over Drew Sathrum at 152.
Link Steffen pointed to that match as one Z-M needed to go its way to have a chance. It also spurred the Cougars into a comeback. Junior Nathan Bennett won 10-5 at 160 and freshman Dillon Downes followed with fall over Mason Stevenson at 170 to give Z-M a 23-22 lead, its first since freshman Joey Majerus’ major decision at 106 pounds.
Alex Jackson, who missed the first dual between the two teams, pinned Evan Block to retake the lead for K-W.
Andy Siems came up with a fall at 195 for the Cougars and Taylor Parker held Nick Langer to an 8-2 decision to give Z-M a chance to win it in the heavyweight match.
The state wrestling team tournament begins March 1 at the Xcel Energy Center.