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Wrestling: DeFrang clutch for the Cougars

Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Spencer DeFrang tries to get around Pierz's Reese Kapsner during their 138-pound match in the Class 1A championship Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center. DeFrang won by pin in 3:15. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

ST. PAUL – Adversity was staring Spencer DeFrang in the face. Down 7-0 to Kenyon-Wanamingo's Jaeden Sokoloski after two periods, it looked like Zumbrota-Mazeppa would lose its third straight match in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.

That didn't matter too much. The 138-pounder has faced adversity all season. And instead of backing up, DeFrang fired up.

“He always wants to win. Whatever he does, he wants to win at it and that showed up today on the mat,” said Z-M head coach Link Steffen.

With Sokoloski tired out, DeFrang dominated the third period and turned a seven-point deficit into a six-point swing for the Cougars with a pin at 5 minutes, 46 seconds.

“I tried a headlock in the end of the second and that didn't work,” DeFrang said. “So that's when I thought, 'Try it again.' Another opportunity opened up at the end and I took it and got it.”

And DeFrang kept on winning. Against top-seeded Frazee in the state semifinals, DeFrang won a 10-4 decision over Blaine Beaty. Then in the finals against Pierz' Reese Kapsner, DeFrang got his second pin of the day in 3:15.

DeFrang's roll became a vital lift for the Cougars en route to the school's first state wrestling title.

“I'd say he was the MVP for us,” said teammate Caden Steffen. “He gets the game ball today. He stepped up.”

Z-M's Spencer DeFrang celebrates after pinning K-W's Jaeden Sokoloski in the 1A quarterfinals.Considering how the season went at times for DeFrang, it was an unlikely MVP performance.

Things started slow for the Cougars' junior as he tried to cut too much weight early on. Then, a knee injury continued to hamper DeFrang.

“He cut down to a lower weight and it was too low for him. He kept trying and kept trying but it was simply too low, so we put him up a weight,” Link said. “Then he got injured. A lot of things were going up and down for him. And then he started to level off the last couple weeks.”

For the guys later down the line, they could see DeFrang's success early in all three state matches helped Z-M get on a roll.

“He's hurt all season and he comes out and pins two top-notch kids,” Caden said. “It was something else.”

The momentum mattered. DeFrang felt it. And the blue medal around his neck confirmed it.

“It felt like a big part of the match,” DeFrang said.

Adversity tried to take DeFrang down several times. And on Thursday, he got to stand tall.

“We've been working on being state champions the whole year,” DeFrang said. “It just feels amazing having accomplished it.”

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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