The Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars were the No. 4 seed in the Class A state wrestling tournament and captured the championship after impressive wins over top seed Frazee and No. 2 seed Pierz.

Before the first Cougar match against fellow Hiawatha Valley League member and defending state champion Kenyon-Wanamingo, Knights head coach Matt Ryan said it was a shame the two HVL teams had to face each other in the opening round.

The match just might have been the determining one for the Class A state title. It was by far the most difficult of the day for Zumbrota-Mazeppa: a 31-23 Cougar win.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa scored four straight wins from 182 pounds through the heavyweight to score the come-from-behind victory. The Knights led 23-16 going into the 182 pound match and probably should have had a bigger lead.

At 138 pounds senior Jaeden Sokoloski had a 7-0 lead going into the third period and got pinned with 14 seconds to go in the match. It was a huge swing.

Both Ryan and Cougars head coach Link Steffen said scoring bonus points and avoiding bonus points would be huge in the match.

Only 113 pound sophomore Jeron Matson of Kenyon-Wanamingo was able to pin his opponent. He made quick work of his match with a 37-second fall.

Steffen told KDHL before the match his team had to stay away from letting Kenyon-Wanamingo get on a roll, noting the Knights feed off those pins. His Cougars were very good at staying away from those back points and tallied a couple of pins themselves.

Caden Steffen bumped up to 195 pounds and pinned Peyton Hilke in 3:53 to give Z-M their first lead at 25-23 since 145 when Maverick Jackson achieved a tough win over Nathan Bauer.

After Jacob Bennett collected a hard-fought victory at 220 pounds over Kaya Lindell, the Cougars had a 28-23 lead going into the last match at 285.

That meant Kenyon-Wanamingo had to get a pin at 285 to win and Jarret Haglund bumped up to 285 for the Cougars and sealed the victory with a 8-4 decision.

Z-M defeated top seed Frazee 32-25 and had to come from behind again to do it. Down 19-16 after 170 pounds, Hayden Voxland notched a 3:13 second fall and Caden Steffen added a 3:50 fall to put the Cougars up 28-19.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Jacob Bennett sealed the win with a major decision at 220 pounds to put the Cougars up 32-19 going into the final match.

Frazee's 285-pound Tony Malikowski achieved a pin in 72 seconds to end the match and the Cougars were in the championship.

Before the tournament began, Tom Weeks said in his opinion Pierz was the best team in the field. He also said any of the top five seeds could go home with the title because Class A was wide open with no prohibitive favorite like Kenyon-Wanamingo was last season.

The Cougars breezed to a 35-16 win and their first wrestling title, once again winning the final four weights to secure the win.

Meanwhile Kenyon-Wanamingo had no trouble with Sibley East, winning 37-12 and captured the consolation championship with a 37-19 win over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg.

Making the Class A All-Tournament team were five Cougars and one Knights wrestler. For Kenyon-Wanamingo, 113-pound sophomore Jeron Matson was the lone All-Tournament selection.

For Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 106-pound freshman Michael Majerus, 145-pound senior Maverick Jackson, 182-pound junior Hayden Voxland, 195-pound junior Caden Steffen and 220-pound sophomore Jacob Bennett were chosen.

Weeks predicted at the conclusion of our broadcast that Zumbrota-Mazeppa will be even better next year and should have a good shot at a repeat.

Kasson-Mantorville, also out of the Hiawtha Valley League, steamrolled to a repeat title in Class AA. Scores were 64-3 over Worthington, 54-7 over Foley and 45-18 in the title match with Simley of Inver Grove Heights.

Apple Valley got a bit of a scare in their title match with Anoka. It was tied 24-24 heading into the heavyweight, although the Eagles' unbeaten junior 285-pound Gable Steveson was a lock to win and did not disappoint with a pin in 19 seconds.



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