Wrestling: Z-M falls short against Chatfield; Lake City goes 0-2Since winning the Section 1A tournament for a third straight time last year, Zumbrota-Mazeppa knows it has a target on its back.
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
MAZEPPA – Since winning the Section 1A tournament for a third straight time last year, Zumbrota-Mazeppa knows it has a target on its back.
And a team that has had the Cougars in its sights all season is ninth-ranked (1A) Chatfield, which was upset as the top seed in last year’s section semifinals by fifth-seeded Z-M.
“Since last year, we’ve had a lot more fans from other schools cheer against us,” said Cougars’ head coach Link Steffen. “Come section time, Chatfield is certainly gunning for us.”
With a week to go before Section 1A matches get underway, the Gophers sent a message to Z-M and the rest of the section with a 36-27 victory at Mazeppa Middle School.
The Cougars were underdogs in last year’s section tournament and managed to punch another ticket to state. If Chatfield stands in the way again, Steffen and the rest of Z-M’s lineup know they have a tough, aggressive team standing in the way of a section four-peat.
“They have a talented group,” Steffen said. “They have this surprise tactic where they come out very aggressive and attack right away. They’re very good at it.”
Joey Majerus picked up a first-period pinfall for Z-M at 113 pounds, sticking Ty VanSickel in 1 minute, 19 seconds. But the Gophers took a 15-6 lead through four matches.
Needing to slow Chatfield’s momentum, the Cougars leaned on a freshman in Devin Manzy.
Facing Tye Bentz at 132 pounds, Manzy fell behind 7-3 in the second period after a 3-point near fall.
“By then, I was just getting angry,” Manzy said, “and the crowd was cheering me on, so I knew I had to do something.”
Manzy responded with a takedown and a 2-point near fall in the waning seconds of the second period to tie the match at 7-7. After a scoreless third, Manzy and Bentz went to overtime.
“By then, I wasn’t feeling any tiredness,” Manzy said. “The adrenaline was going by then.”
With that extra boost, Manzy secured a double-leg takedown with 37 seconds left in the period, winning 9-7 and cutting the team deficit to 15-9.
“He’s a young man who’s coming into his own,” Steffen said of Manzy. “He shows up to work every day, he’s learning how to wrestle and it’s starting to show.”
But Manzy would be the only close victory Z-M received against Chatfield as the Cougars went 1-3 in matches that were decided by three points or less. At 138 pounds, in a showdown of two top 10 138-pound wrestlers, the Gophers’ Harvey Friederichs (2nd) got a takedown with 18 seconds left to defeat Mitchell Watkins (6th) in a 3-1 decision.
The Cougars’ Hunter Prodzinski, at 152, and Seth Tapper, 220, both lost in 6-3 decisions.
With consecutive pinfalls from Chase Steffen and Dillon Downes at 160 and 170 pounds, respectively, Z-M cut Chatfield’s lead to 27-24. But the Gophers cemented the match on a 6-1 decision by Cody Bly and a 57-second pinfall from Justin Viss at 182 and 195, respectively. Shane Bode ended the match on a high note for the Cougars with a pinfall in 33 seconds at 285 pounds.
Defeated, but undeterred, Steffen and the rest of the Z-M lineup set their sights on the section tournament, and another potential showdown with Chatfield.
“I told them afterwards that there’s proof again that positive things can happen for us,” Steffen said. “We just have to practice hard and put a little more effort to it to put ourselves in that position again.”
Lake City goes 0-2
Two Lake City wrestlers – Shane Siewert and Will Balow – went a perfect 2-0 on Thursday, but the Tigers took their lumps in losses to Zumbrota-Mazeppa (43-25) and Chatfield (44-23).
“(Against Z-M) we knew we had to score more points at the bottom of the lineup, but we just didn’t score enough,” said Lake City head coach Lonnie West. “And Chatfield, they’re as good as advertised. … If you can stay close to them up to 145, you can keep it tight.”
Against the Cougars, the Tigers held a 13-9 lead after five matches, thanks to wins by Kevin McGinley (106 pounds), Carston Dammann (120) and Andrew Schmidt (126). Then at 145, Lake City went up 16-13, thanks to sophomore Shane Siewert.
Wrestling third-ranked Cody Heitman at 145 pounds, Siewert gave himself a 2-0 advantage at the end of the first period with a last-second takedown.
“That was a great feeling for sure to get a little bit of room to be safe,” Siewert said of the takedown. “That helped a lot.”
After a scoreless second period, Siewert put up another point on an escape on the way to a 3-0 win via decision.
Against Chatfield, Siewert found the win column again with a 4-2 decision over Ryan Meeker.
“Those were a huge confidence booster heading into sections,” Siewert said. “I’ve beaten (Meeker) earlier in the year, including one in overtime, so I knew I could do it.”
West added, “You saw the likely one, two and three seeds in the individual (section) tournament, and with who he’s beaten, Shane should get the No. 1 seed. It was a big night for him.”
Z-M dominated from 160 pounds to 182 before Balow won in a commanding pinfall victory at 195 pounds, planting Seth Tupper in 2:50. Andrew Denzer also notched a Lake City victory at 285 in a 4-2 decision.
Against Chatfield, the Tigers fell in a 26-0 gap after six matches before Siewert won via decision, sparking a three-match win streak for Lake City. In that stretch, Derek Bremer (152 pounds) and Mitchell Noll (160) each secured victories.
At 182, Balow, ranked seventh in Class 1A, got his second win of the night with a pinfall in 54 seconds against Sam Fryer.