Eagles seeded first in state wrestling

Apple Valley evens the score against Shakopee

Apple Valley senior captain Jalen Thul pins his Prior Lake opponent during the Eagles' final regular-season match. Last week Apple Valley defeated Shakopee 28-19 in the Class 3A, Section 2 final to qualify for the state tournament for the 35th consecutive year. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy
Apple Valley senior captain Jalen Thul pins his Prior Lake opponent during the Eagles’ final regular-season match. Last week Apple Valley defeated Shakopee 28-19 in the Class 3A, Section 2 final to qualify for the state tournament for the 35th consecutive year. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

The state high school wrestling tournament still is a week away, but Apple Valley might have cleared its biggest obstacle to a 12th consecutive team championship.

The No. 2-ranked Eagles defeated No. 1 Shakopee 28-19 in the championship match of the Class 3A, Section 2 team tournament last Friday at Rosemount High School. The victory gave Apple Valley its 35th consecutive section team title, a streak that started in 1983. It also means the Eagles are favored again to win the state team tournament Thursday, March 2, at Xcel Energy Center.

Apple Valley (19-2) wrestles unseeded Minnetonka (14-4) in the first round of the state tournament, with the winner facing Hastings or Owatonna in the semifinals. Anoka and St. Michael-Albertville are the top seeds in the other half of the bracket. The Class 3A team championship match is 7 p.m. March 2.

After losing to Shakopee 29-28 in its season opener Dec. 1 – a loss ultimately responsible for ending a lengthy streak of conference championships – Apple Valley waited patiently for a chance at a rematch. The Eagles routed Burnsville 81-0 and Prior Lake 48-9 in the first two rounds of the Section 2 tourney.

Shakopee won three of the first four matches, jumping to a 10-3 lead. But everything changed in the 132-pound match, where Apple Valley’s Sebas Swiggum upset Shakopee’s Brent Jones 7-5 in overtime. Jones, a three-time state champion, is ranked No. 1 in the state at 132; Swiggum is ranked fifth.

That helped Apple Valley stay close enough until the Eagles finally took the lead in the later stages of the match. Devin Roberts won by one point at 152 and senior captain Jalen Thul won 2-0 at 170. The Eagles still trailed 19-16 when Tyler Kim scored a takedown in the final seconds to defeat Shakopee’s Abe Ngaima 5-4 at 195.

Tanyi Besong won 8-5 at 220, which left Shakopee in the position of having to beat the nation’s No. 1-ranked heavyweight – Apple Valley junior Gable Steveson – to pull out the match. That didn’t happen, as Steveson pinned his opponent in 48 seconds.

Adam Michelson (113 pounds) and Kyle Rathman (138) also won for Apple Valley. The Eagles won eight weights to Shakopee’s six.

In the Section 2 quarterfinals, Eastview beat Lakeville North 34-30, avenging a regular-season loss to the Panthers. Rosemount fell to Prior Lake 72-9. Shakopee defeated Eastview 58-18 in the semifinals.

The Section 2 individual tournament is Friday and Saturday at Prior Lake High School.

Section 3

Eagan reached the Class 3A, Section 3 team final for the second consecutive year but lost for the second consecutive year. The Wildcats won by fall at the first two weights but took only one more match after that as they fell to Hastings 40-15 last Friday at Hastings High School.

Andrew Wick and Jack Johnson-Macpherson pinned their opponents at 106 and 113 as Eagan took a 12-0 lead. Hastings won 11 of the final 12 matches. A victory by Eagan’s Xavier Rosenbloom at 138 wasn’t enough to break the Raiders’ run.

Eagan defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 76-3 and Woodbury 43-24 on its way to the section final. The Wildcats will compete in the section individual tournament Friday and Saturday at Park of Cottage Grove.

Section 1

Farmington’s two-year streak of state team tournament appearances ended with a 33-28 loss to Northfield in the Class 3A, Section 1 quarterfinals. Northfield trailed by one point going into the 285-pound match, which the Raiders won by fall.

Lakeville South couldn’t overcome an early 22-point deficit and lost to Rochester Mayo 40-27 in the quarterfinal round. Owatonna went on to win the Section 1 team championship.

The Section 1 individual tournament is Friday and Saturday at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.