KoMets soar to Swalla title

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Kasson-Mantorville's Ryan Erdman works his way to a win over Simley's Zach Spylstalla in their 120-pound match Saturday as part of the Bob Swalla Memorial Wrestling tournament at Kasson.

Over the last three seasons, the Kasson-Mantorville wrestling team has won the Section One, Class AA title each season and finished no worse than fourth place at the state tournament each year.

Yet for all the KoMets' success, a title at their big home tournament — the annual Swalla Duals — has eluded them.

Believe it or not, entering Saturday's event the KoMets had not won the Swalla Duals title since 1998. For the last four years, Simley — the five-time defending state champion — has stood in their way.

But Saturday the KoMets finally cleared that hurdle, beating their rivals from Simley and claiming their first Swalla title in 15 years.

"That's awesome," K-M eighth-grader Brady Berge said. "It's a good win for us, and now we go right back to work and try to separate ourselves from them even more."


K-M and Simley both easily rolled into the tournament finals. In the championship dual, K-M jumped to a 22-0 lead and never looked back, winning 37-22.

After the dual, K-M co-head coach Paul Mann took a realistic approach to his team's win. While the KoMets finally knocked off Simley and put themselves in position to be the No. 1 seed at the state tournament in March, he knows the result could be much different in St. Paul.

"This win is a nice little reward for the boys for all the hard work they've put in to this point," Mann said. "But this isn't going to make us back off. We're not peaking yet, and we have a lot of hard work to do. We know that Simley is going to be working just as hard to try to find a way to beat us. So we need to keep working and try to separate from them. It's a nice win, but there is still work to do."

The KoMets won the first five matches, including four decision wins. That gave them some breathing room, though Simley made a dual out of it by winning four straight in the middle.

"We got momentum, then they took it for a little bit, but the guys didn't back off," Mann said. "The coaching staff, coach (Jamie) Heidt, and everyone did a great job. It was a total team win."

K-M cruised into the title match with three easy wins over Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson (58-11), Sparta, Wis. (58-9) and Centennial (53-12).

Two other local teams competed Saturday — LARP and Byron. They met in the fifth-place dual, with LARP edging the Bears 39-30.

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