Swalla Duals brings best to K-M
Every year the Bob Swalla Memorial Duals brings some of the best Minnesota wrestling teams to Kasson-Mantorville.
And this year tournament organizers have added a ranked Wisconsin squad to the mix, while keeping with the tradition of inviting top teams from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
This year's Swalla Duals, which start at 10 a.m. Saturday at Kasson-Mantorville High School, include seven ranked teams, two nationally ranked teams, 42 ranked wrestlers and 10 No. 1-ranked wrestlers.
"We lost one ranked team, but we replaced that team with Sparta, Wis., and they're a ranked Division II team from over there," K-M co-head coach Paul Mann said. "I feel it's a similar field to last year."
Simley received the No. 1 overall seed. The Spartans are ranked No. 1 in Minnesota's Class AA and No. 11 nationally by Intermat. Simley is in Pool A, but it will wrestle just one dual in pool play due to an odd number of teams in the field. In Simley's pool is New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, which is ranked No. 12 in Class A.
Kasson-Mantorville earned the No. 2 seed. The KoMets are ranked No. 4 in Class AA and No. 43 nationally. They're in Pool B along with United South Central and Fairmont.
Jackson County Central is the No. 3 seed. JCC is ranked No. 1 in Class A and is in Pool B along with Waseca and Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson. LARP is receiving votes (Lean and Mean) in the latest Class AA pool.
Centennial is the No. 4 seed. It is ranked No. 11 in Class AAA and is in Pool D with Sparta and Byron. Sparta is ranked No. 8 in Wisconsin's Division II, while Byron is receiving votes in Class AA.
"I think you look at Pool D and that's where the most interesting matchups are right away," Mann said. "That's one where you wouldn't be surprised if everyone went 1-1 and we had to use tiebreakers to decide it. Sparta is a little unknown, but they've only been beaten once I believe in Wisconsin this year."
The KoMets will see a familiar face in their second dual of the tournament (they open at 11:45 a.m. against USC). At 1:30 p.m, the KoMets will wrestle Fairmont, where former K-M assistant coach Jake Tietje is the head coach.
"I'm sure Jake is motivated and excited," Mann said. "I know he's doing everything he can to get that program turned around, and he wanted to come here and show his wrestlers what it takes."
Fairmont also features a top-ranked wrestler in Trevor Schultz, who's No. 1 at 106 pounds in Class AA. That means Schultz likely will meet K-M's Brady Berge, who is ranked No. 4.
"That's a really fun matchup right off the bat," Mann said.
The KoMets still are trying to get healthy. They'll be without at least two wrestlers Saturday. Nate Thomas is still recovering from a shoulder injury, though Mann hopes to have his former state champion back soon, possibly even next weekend at the Pine Island Invitational. And Darrin Allen is recovering from a knee injury and may not be ready until the section tournament.
And while Simley is a clear-cut favorite to take home another Swalla Duals title, Mann said Saturday will provide a good measuring stick for the program.
"We always like to start our way up at the Swalla Duals, with the goal of peaking at the section tournament and state," Mann said. "Simley is obviously an incredible team. And Jackson County Central is going to be tough to beat. They're kind of a similar team to us. But Saturday is about letting the kids and the coaches see where we're at."