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Section wrestling preview: Mayo hopes to make noise in 1AAA, K-M a favorite in 1AA, while 1A is wide open

The high school wrestling team sections kicks off Thursday and a number of Rochester-area schools have their sights set on reaching the Xcel Energy Center.

Mayo wrestling
Mayo's Calder Sheehan (right) wrestles during the Minnesota Christmas Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 at Rochester Community and Technical College. Sheehan and the Spartans are hoping to make a run at a Section 1AAA title.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin
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Art Trimble wasn’t exactly sure how his Mayo wrestling team was going to stack up this season.

With the graduation of 10 seniors and six starters, including state qualifier Marshall Peters — as well as Rick Kobayashi and Dedric Burger — the longtime Mayo head coach found himself wondering how things were going to fall into place this year.

“I kind of was going, ‘Man, what are we going to look like this year?'” Trimble said. “I wasn’t sure.”

The Spartans took their lumps early at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament and The Clash National Duals, but they took it in stride, using it to get better.

Now winners of 10 of their last 11 duals — plus team titles at the Darrel Jaeger Invitational at Stewartville and the Pine Island Invitational — the argument can be made that no wrestling team from southeastern Minnesota has improved more than the Spartans as they get ready to host the Section 1AAA quarter- and semifinals as the No. 2 seed Thursday.

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“It comes down to people just sliding into spots, figuring it out and really improving over the course of the year,” Trimble said. “I mean, we’re way better than we were at the beginning of the season, that’s for sure.”

That's due to Trimble witnessing a number of individuals take that next step this season.

Freshman standout Calder Sheehan (138 pounds) and junior Dylan Peper (182) are both ranked in the top 10 of Class AAA in their respective weight class by The Guillotine. Peper joins Logan Burger (170) as part of a group of juniors that has played a key role, while Ben Timmerman (132), Ian Funk (152) and Gavin Pike (220) have provided not only wins on the mat but senior leadership off it.

Seventh-graders Max Erickson (113) and Kellen Burger (120) have been a surprising boost as well for the Spartans.

“Everybody really stepped up and filled their roles and then two huge seventh-graders coming in with Max Erickson and Kellen Burger,” Trimble said. “I mean to be .500 on varsity as a seventh grader – and not even at 106 – is really impressive, it shows a lot about those guys to be able to step up to that high level of competition right away."

Mayo wrestling
Mayo's Ian Funk (in green) wrestles during the Minnesota Christmas Tournament on Friday, December 17, 2021 at Rochester Community and Technical College.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin

But it’s this group’s ability to work and willingness to hone in on their weaknesses is what truly makes it stand out.

“They’re so coachable,” Trimble said. “My assistant coach (Luke) Ties and I were really just commenting on when we faced Faribault on (Feb. 4), we saw at least five things where we talked to the kids the day before and then they executed that in the matches the next day, which is so cool.
"It’s so rare at the high school level where you can make those little adjustments and boom, they just get it the next day and show it out on the mat. So we're really impressed with the coachability of our kids.”

It’s a big reason the Spartans contended for a Big Nine Conference title with a 10-2 mark in conference. And with Albert Lea and Farmington no longer in Section 1AAA, the Spartans path to the state team tournament is paved a bit better, as well as for individuals like Sheehan and Peper.

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“We have a shot of making a run for state this year,” Trimble said. “It opens up a lot more opportunities for individuals, too, because both those teams have some great individual wrestlers.”

But first up is the team section meet and the Spartans will most likely need to go through top-seeded Northfield to make that run at state.

The Raiders won the Big Nine with a perfect 10-0 conference record, beating the Spartans 41-19 on Feb. 2 in what was the only Section 1AAA loss for Mayo and its only loss in its past 11 duals.

“Northfield is as tough as nails,” Trimble said. “Just real solid all the way through.”

Faribault, the No. 3 seed, could possibly give the Spartans fits in a potential semifinal match. Mayo did beat the Falcons 41-29 on Feb. 3.

Kasson-Mantorville, Dover-Eyota punch tickets to state.

SECTION 1AA: Kasson-Mantorville the favorite

Unlike Section 1AAA, 1AA has a clear favorite in Kasson-Mantorville.

With perennial power Simley now in Section 4AA after the latest section assignment realignment by the Minnesota State High School League, two of the state’s best could now meet in the state tournament instead of the section final.

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Yet still, the KoMets know anything can happen in the postseason after being stunned by Lake City 40-32 in the Section 1AA semifinals a year ago.

And with the likes of Albert Lea and Zumbrota-Mazeppa now joining Section 1AA, a title for K-M will be anything but easy. Albert Lea (23-6) was given the No. 3 seed and has four wrestlers ranked in Class AA by The Guillotine, including top-ranked Michael Olson (106) and second ranked Logan Davis (113). The Tigers have gone to state 13 times as a program.

The Cougars (15-3) are seeded second and gave the KoMets one of their closest matches of the season with K-M winning 40-24. That was Z-M's only loss in Section 1AA action.

And of course, the KoMets still have Lake City to deal with as the fourth-seeded Tigers (17-7) are hoping to recreate similar magic to last season.

However, it seems the KoMets have been using last year’s loss to Lake City as fuel for this entire season.

They have been a machine, winning duals by an average of 60.9-11.5 en route to a 23-1 overall and 8-0 dual record in both the Hiawatha Valley League and Section 1AA. The KoMets have six wrestlers ranked by The Guillotine. Logan Vaughan (152), Cole Glazier (170) and Bennett Berge (182) are all No. 1 at their weight classes, while Kail Wynia (195) is ranked No. 2, Reed Parrish (285) is ranked No. 4 and Joseph Kennedy (132) was added to the latest rankings at No. 10.

Tournament time is just around the corner, less than a week away for high school wrestling teams in southeastern Minnesota.

Section 1A: Let the chaos ensue

Section 1A is where things could really get fun.

Three teams are ranked by The Guillotine in Chatfield (No. 8), Dover-Eyota (No. 9) and Goodhue (No. 11), while Caledonia/Houston and Kenyon-Wanamingo received votes in the Feb. 10 poll.

From the outside it looks like Chatfield is in the driver’s seat, having gone a perfect 5-0 in Section 1A duals, with wins against Goodhue 51-24 on Jan. 15 and Dover-Eyota 35-31 on Feb. 3. For that reason, the Gophers were given the top-seed in Section 1A. Overall, they are 11-1 in duals and wrapped up the regular season No. 2 in the most recent Post Bulletin power rankings. They also have five (Javier Berg, Gage Bartels, Kail Schott, Grady Schott and Campbell Berge) wrestlers ranked in the top-six in their respective weight classes. Berg (106) — a freshman — and senior Grady Schott (182) are both ranked No. 2.

Yet, don’t overlook Goodhue.

The No. 2 seeded Wildcats (24-4) ended the year winners of their last nine duals, including an impressive victory over Class AA Zumbrota-Mazeppa. Mason Taxdahl (182), Wyatt Mulder (195), Cody Lohman (220) and Caleb Kurtti (285) collected four consecutive pins to turn a 25-15 deficit into a 33-31 win. Lohman is ranked No. 3 at 195, while Maddox O'Reilly (No. 4 at 145) and Makae O'Reilly (No. 6, 152) are also ranked for the Wildcats, whose only losses in 2022 have come to Class AAA Albert Lea and Hastings as well as Kasson-Mantorville.

Yet, don’t sleep on Dover-Eyota (16-8).

The No. 3-seeded Eagles have been ranked in the top-12 in Class A throughout the season and seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.

They picked up some momentum with a good showing at the Mike Fastnacht Memorial on Feb. 5, finishing third behind Simley (234.5) and Forest Lake (212) with 178 points, before wrapping up the regular season with wins over Caledonia/Houston (52-26) and Kenyon-Wanamingo (46-27). The Eagles have four wrestlers ranked in the top 10 with sophomore Bolton Thesing (No. 8, 126) and junior Jackson Duellman (No. 9, 220), joining the great duo of Brodie Kellen (No. 5, 145) and Gavin Gust (No. 4, 152) in the latest rankings by The Guillotine.

Section 2A: Westfield hoping to make a run

The Westfield Razorbacks (a co-op between Hayfield and Blooming Prairie) were given the No. 3 seed after a 14-10 overall record in duals and a 3-2 record against Section 2A opponents — falling to top seeded Maple River/United South Central and No. 2 Medford.

Yet, Westfield always has one of the toughest schedules around with five of its 10 losses coming against Class AA or Class AAA schools. Freshman Bo Zweiner (No. 9, 120) joins senior Tyler Archer (No. 10, 182) in the latest rankings by The Guillotine.

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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