The Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran wrestling team believed coming into this season that big things, including a Minnesota River Conference championship, could be in store.
Never mind that in order to win a conference title, the Royals would have to go through perennial state powerhouse Scott West, a team that had never lost to the Royals, and that has beaten the Royals by an average of more than 50 points in four meetings over the last two years. The Royals never wavered in their belief that the title was theirs to lose, and last Friday night, they proved it.
The 11th-ranked Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran wrestling team upended No. 5 Scott West, 33-27, to cap the MRC season with perfect 5-0 record and hand Scott West their first conference loss. The Royals moved to 10-1 overall this year and 5-1 against section teams, with the only loss coming to fourth-ranked New Prague in a match that went down to the wire.
Traen said he was confident all along that his team could emerge with the conference title this year, despite his team’s dismal record against Scott West in the past.
“If you look at results from last year, we were second, and we knew that Scott west graduated quite a bit — more than we did, anyway,” Traen said. “I wasn’t sure what they were going to come with to replace the graduating kids, though. You never know.”
Traen said his team was pumped up for the match and the win, but the battle now for the Royals is to not get too far ahead of themselves. Scott West has knocked the Royals out of the section tournament a number of years in a row, and there’s a good chance the teams could meet again in the postseason, not to mention a number of other formidable contenders in what is shaping up to be quite a tough section.
‘We’re trying to keep them focused,” Traen said. “This isn’t the end. There’s a very good chance we’ll see Scott West again in Sections. It’s only the first step for us right now, but that should move us to a No. 2 seed behind New Prague.”
Jackson Sweeney gave the Royals the early lead Friday night with a 6-1 decision at 106 pounds, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead. However, at 113, Scott West answered back, taking a 6-3 lead with a pin.
The Royals tied the match at 120, when Adam Traen won a 6-5 decision, but Scott West got the lead right back at 126 pounds, when Zach Siegle, a state place winner last year, defeated the Royals’ Matt Elsenpeter, 8-2, giving Scott West a 9-6 lead.
At 132, however, Aaron Sweeney scored a 17-1 technical fall for the Royals, giving them an 11-9 advantage, which Joe Jobe added to at 128 with a 6-4 decision, putting Watertown-Mayer in front, 14-9.
Scott West got a major decision at 145, climbing back to within a point at 14-13. However, Joe Reinert controlled things at 152 to earn a 17-13 decision, boosting his team’s lead back to four points at 17-13.
The Royals forfeited at 160 pounds, giving Scott West a 19-17 advantage, and Scott West extended the lead with a pin at 170 to go in front, 25-17. However, Austin Torres and Nick Burns earned consecutive decisions for the Royals, each by just two points, at 182 and 195 pounds, to move to within 25-23. Jon Ernst followed with a major decision for the Royals at 220 pounds, giving them a 27-25 lead, and Davion Franklin wasted little time clinching the match for the Royals at heavyweight, pinning his opponent in just under a minute.
“It was big,” WMML coach Joe Traen said. “It was a good win. There were a lot of people there, they had the spotlight going and the fans were wild.”
The Royals were also in action Tuesday, Jan. 29, when they traveled to take on Dassel-Cokato in a non-conference match. The Royals will be back on the mat on Thursday, Jan. 31, for a match against Waconia at 7 p.m. The Royals will also compete at Mankato East in an invitational on Saturday, Feb. 2, a tournament that starts at 10 a.m.
Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]