Section team tourney is Friday at Henry Sibley
The last couple of weeks have done little to answer the question of who might win if Apple Valley and St. Michael-Albertville face each other, as high school wrestling observers predict will happen in the state Class AAA championship match Feb. 28.
What is becoming clearer is that the chances of any other team winning the title are slim.
The gap between No. 1-ranked STMA and No. 2 Apple Valley could be slim, but the difference between the top two and all other teams in Class AAA appears chasm-like. No. 3-ranked Prior Lake wrestled the top two teams in a span of six days earlier this month and didn’t come within 30 points of either.
Last week Apple Valley trounced Prior Lake 48-10 in a match that decided the South Suburban Conference championship. Both teams were 7-0 in the league going into the Feb. 7 match at Apple Valley High School, but the Eagles took a 9-0 lead after two matches and never looked back.
Apple Valley’s Zach Chytka opened the meet with a 6-0 victory over Prior Lake’s Kenny O’Neil, who’s ranked 10th in Class AAA at 106 pounds. In another marquee match at 220, the Eagles’ Paul Cheney, who’s ranked second in Class AAA at that weight, won 11-8 against Alex Hart, who is fourth at 195.
The Eagles’ Gannon Volk, ranked first at 113, moved up to 120 to wrestle Tanner Johnshoy, a two-time state tournament runner-up. Johnshoy took an 8-3 decision.
Maolu Woiwor (113), Mark Hall II (152), Daniel Woiwor (160) and Trom Peterson (195) pinned their Prior Lake opponents. Dayton Racer (145) won his match by technical fall. Seth Gross (132) and Lord Hyeamang (285) were winners by major decision, and Brock Morgan (126) and David Johnson (182) won by decision.
Apple Valley lost three matches in the regular season, all to Illinois teams at the Clash Duals in Rochester. Although the Eagles and St. Michael-Albertville have been in a couple of the same invitationals this season, they have not gone head-to-head yet.
But first, the Eagles have to get through the Section 3AAA team tournament Friday at Henry Sibley High School. They are the No. 1 seed, with Rosemount seeded second. Eastview and Eagan are seeded fourth and fifth, and Burnsville is the seventh seed. The section championship match is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.
Apple Valley, the seven-time defending state Class AAA champion, is seeking its 31st consecutive trip to the state team competition.
After having to be flexible with their lineups because of injuries and illnesses for most of the season, coach Dalen Wasmund said the Eagles are healthy for the section tournament.
“This is the first time since our first match with Kasson(-Mantorville, in early December) that we’ve had all of our guys,” Wasmund said. “I think we’ve done as well as we could, given the circumstances. It hasn’t been an easy season. We found out we have some guys who were able to step up” and contribute on varsity.
Even after getting healthy, the Eagles juggled their lineup a bit, moving some wrestlers up a weight and some down. Part of it had to do with the Eagles needing to settle on a lineup for the Section 3AAA individual tournament Feb. 22-23 at Burnsville High School. Wasmund said earlier this week the team still has some decisions to make about the individual tournament.