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Wrestling: Z-M sinks Cannon Falls

Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Hayden Stensland escapes from Peter Fitterer during during their 106-pound match Friday at Mazeppa. Stensland won by pinfall, helping the Cougars to a 42-25 victory over the eighth-ranked (2A) Bombers. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Cannon Falls' Paul Fitterer reachs back for the leg of Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Joey Majerus during the Cougars' 42-25 victory over the eighth-ranked (2A) Bombers. Fitterer, ranked No. 1 (2A) at 113 pounds, beat Majerus (No. 4 at 120 in 1A) 7-6 in the third overtime period. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

MAZEPPA – Wrestling meets are constant waves of emotion. A takedown elicits excitement from one side, despair from the other. The constant roar of direction from the crowd, the coaches and the wrestlers changes on a whim depending on the happenings on the mat.

And with every final whistle, some team colors stand and applaud, while the others sulk and ask a friend, a brother, a husband, what just went wrong.

All of those feelings were felt dozens of times Friday in Mazeppa, as the hometown Cougars upset eighth-ranked (Class 2A) Cannon Falls, 42-25.

Perhaps the loudest ovation was for Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s Seth Tupper, a victor by fall 1 minute, 27 seconds into his 195-pound match against Nathan Melhouse.

“Tupper with the pin, that’s Seth,” said Z-M head coach Link Steffen. “He’s a kid that just came out for wrestling a couple years ago, but he’s learning by leaps and bounds. He’s in the weight room all summer long. He’s stronger than a bull. And he just keeps working, and a super nice kid, too, and a good student as well. It’s good when good things happen to good kids.”

Tupper’s victory was the exclamation point on a comeback that started with Z-M down 19-9 after Connor Rohr earned a major decision over Freedom Hunt at 138 pounds. Cody Heitman (145 pounds), Dillon Downes (160) and Hunter Prodzinski (170) all recorded pins while Devin Manzy (152) and Chase Steffen (182) notched decisions. That left Tupper facing Melhouse with the score 33-19 in Z-M’s favor.

And with No. 1-ranked Clay Broze on deck, and the heavyweights getting warm, anything could have happened to erase that 14-point lead.

But the momentum stayed with the Cougars, a surge they had early before Paul Fitterer beat Joey Majerus in the most-anticipated match of the night at 120 pounds.

“That was a good match for him, they need that kind of stuff,” said Cannon Falls head coach Dudley Flodeen said.

Fitterer was down 3-1, then 6-4 before clawing back to tie it 6-6. As the two wrestlers entered overtime, Fitterer seemed to have the momentum. After neither wrestler could score a takedown, Majerus chose to start the first 30-second period down, and Fitterer rode him out. The two changed positions, and with Z-M holding a 9-0 lead in the dual, tensions among the Bomber faithful rose.

After a 20-second struggle, Fitterer escaped, giving a double fist pump on his way back to the center of the mat. Those clad in black and red cheered, and would continue to do so through back-to-back falls by Ryan Epps and Keston Lopez.

“The crowd got their money’s worth in that one,” Steffen said.

But then began the march back for the Cougars, a seemingly impossible task from the stands. But it was a mission that was not spoken of among the Cougars.

“I know Joey took that one to heart pretty hard, he was in position to win that match, and that’s why Fitterer is rated No. 1 (at 113). He capitalizes on any little mistake, and that’s exactly what happened,” Steffen said.

“It was going to be tough after Joey lost,” Steffen continued, “but you can look at that two ways … Spencer DeFrang (at 113) was absolutely fantastic. That little guy works so hard … and that helped set the tone for us. But, there you go, the very next match, your big gun gets beat in Joey. But the guys rebounded nicely.”

Friday was just the first of many matches for the two teams, so all the emotions will be felt over and over. And the waves will crash into the shore Saturday when the Bombers (1-0) head to the New Prague tournament.

The Cougars (1-1), who lost 42-24 to Class AAA Lakeville North earlier Friday, will head off to the Glencoe-Silver Lake Tournament.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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