ST. PAUL-It was just a matter of time before Zumbrota-Mazeppa's big boys came out to the wrestling mat. The road for Frazee to win a Minnesota Class 1A state wrestling title was going to require pit stops in succession at Caden Steffen, Jacob Bennett and Jarrett Haglund, all of whom are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes.
The road was too much for the Hornets, as No. 1 seed Z-M made it back-to-back state titles with a 31-19 win in the championship dual Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. Z-M knocked out the Hornets last season in the state semifinals.
"You got to compete," Frazee coach Clay Nagel said. "We wrestled really hard. We were outclassed and our guys hung in there and just kept battling. I'm really proud of them."
Z-M's No. 2-ranked Michael Majerus did his job, opening the dual with a pin with 55 seconds left in the second period to put the Cougars up 6-0. No. 4-ranked Michael Miller scored a takedown in the final seconds to change an 11-5 decision to a 13-5 major decision to cut the Z-M lead to 6-4 for Frazee. Landon Byer and No. 4-ranked Tanner Schermerhorn each won 5-1 decisions and No. 10-ranked Kaden Hiemenz won a 1-0 decision to put Frazee up 13-6.
The lead was nice, but the No. 2-seeded Frazee would've liked a few more points out of their ranked wrestlers, knowing what was on the horizon for Z-M.
"It's tough to predict," Schermerhorn said. "You kind of got to hope you can win a lot of matches down low. We did a good job, but not quite good enough.
"Seven other seniors on the team, it's like I got seven more brothers. It sucks losing, but I wouldn't trade this team for anything in the world honestly. I love every single one of them."
Z-M's Spencer DeFrang got a pin 40 seconds into the match at 138 pounds, Luke Tupper won a 10-4 decision and No. 8-ranked Sam Nordquist won a 3-0 decision to put Z-M back up 18-13.
"Even when we weren't healthy and we scuffled a bit at the beginning (of the season) they still wanted to win and they were still competitive and they were still trying," Z-M coach Link Steffen said. "And that shows up on days like today."
No. 4-ranked Tanner Eischens won a 10-3 decision to cut the Z-M lead to 18-16, but the big boys were waiting. Hayden Stensland, who is ranked No. 8 at 160, moved up to 170 and answered with a major decision for Z-M to get a cushion. Hayden Voxland, who is ranked No 2 at 170, moved up and won a 3-0 decision at 182. Steffen and Bennett moved up to 195 and 220, respectively, to clinch the title with decisions.
Frazee's No. 5-ranked 285-pounder Tanner Tappe won a 4-3 decision over Jarret Haglund, who is ranked No. 1 at 220, but it wasn't enough.
"There's 82 teams in our division that would love to be where we're at," Nagel said. "They wrestled their butts off, they left it out on the mat. We're proud. We've got nothing to feel bad about."
Perham takes 4th, OTC finishes 5th
Perham came away with its best finish at the Class 2A state tournament since its second-place finish in 2008. The No. 4 seed Yellowjackets topped No. 5 seed Foley 31-25 in the quarterfinals before falling to top seed Kasson-Mantorville 48-10 in the semifinals. The Yellowjackets were tied with No. 2 seed Scott West 14-14 in the third-place match, but Scott West got a pin from Jack Fogarty at 152, a 7-2 decision from Jace Demmers at 160 and a pin from Tyler Buesgens at 182 for a 29-20 lead with three matches to go. Perham got a major decision from Zachary Peterson and a pin from Ty Moser for a one-point lead, but Scott West's Calvin Menke got a 9-0 major decision at 285 to give Scott West a 33-30 win.
"It was a little bit of getting over the quarterfinal hump," Perham coach Robb Moser said. "It feels good to get fourth, but the truth is you are still 1-2 for the weekend. It does feel a little bit better. It's a good thing for our program."
Thursday was the best finish for Ottertail Central in the Class 1A tournament because the Bulldogs were making their first trip to the state tournament in program history. OTC lost to top seed Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the quarterfinals 37-19 before topping No. 5 seed Kenyon Wanamingo 55-15 in the consolation semifinals. Kenyon-Wanamingo had a number of wrestlers sent home before the tournament started for violating rules of the Minnesota State High School League.
OTC topped Blackduck-Cass Lake Bena 39-23 for fifth place behind pins from Alex Erlandson at 170 pounds, Wyatt Thorson at 220 pounds and RJ Ehlert at 285 pounds.
"It's still pretty surreal we're down here," OTC coach Scott Hart said. "We wrestled hard all year, so you knew we had potential. After we wrestled Zumbrota-Mazeppa the coach said we were one of the toughest, scrappiest teams they've wrestled all year. That's a pretty good compliment."
106: Majerus, Z-M, pin Carlson, F, 3:05.
113: Miller, F, major dec. Jurrens, Z-M, 13-5.
120: Byer, F, dec. Poulin, Z-M, 5-1.
126: Schermerhorn, F, dec. Vath, Z-M, 5-1.
132: K. Hiemenz, F, dec. Heitman, Z-M, 1-0.
138: DeFrang, Z-M, pin Shipman, F, 0:40.
145: Tupper, Z-M, dec. Roforth, F, 10-4.
152: Nordquist, Z-M dec. H. Hiemenz, F, 5-1
160: Eischens, F, dec. Gehrke, Z-M, 10-3
170: Stensland, Z-M, major dec. Wacker, F, 15-1.
182: Voxland, Z-M, dec. Graham, F, 3-0.
195: Steffen, Z-M, dec. Drewes, 8-5.
220: Bennett, Z-M, dec. Tweeton, F, 5-0.
285: Tappe, F, dec. Haglund, Z-M, 4-3.