The Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran wrestling team prevented Scott West from making what would have been a sixth consecutive trip to this year’s Class AA state wrestling duals tournament, but ultimately fell short of a state tournament berth of its own during the Section 2AA Final Four last Saturday night at Watertown-Mayer High School.
Top-seeded New Prague defeated the second-seeded Royals 43-17 in the championship match, earning their first trip to the state duals meet since 1999. That championship match came shortly after Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran had defeated Scott West, 36-25, in one semifinal, and New Prague had defeated fourth-seeded Hutchinson 32-30 in the other. In losing to New Prague, the Royals were denied what would have been their first ever trip to state.
New Prague 43, WMML 17
The Royals had battled New Prague in a close match earlier this season. With all the momentum from the Royals’ second victory over Scott West this season, the section title seemed up for grabs until New Prague came out on fire.
The Royals actually took an early 3-0 lead on Jackson Sweeney’s 5-1 decision at 106, and after New Prague tied it up at 113 pounds and took the lead on a technical fall at 120, Matt Elsenpeter’s technical fall for the Royals had the match tied once again, 8-8.
However, that’s when things fell apart for the Royals and New Prague went on a tear. The Trojans won the next six matches, including a pin and a pair of major decisions, and took a 31-8 after the 170-pound match.
Austin Torres, wrestling his first match of the evening after winning by forfeit against Scott West, finally ended the Royals’ skid with an 8-7 decision at 182 pounds. However, that match also clinched the win and the state berth for the Trojans, leaving the Royals with two few matches and too many points to make up. After a couple more pins for New Prague, Davion Franklin won by fall at heavyweight for the Royals, his second pin of the night.
WMML 36, Scott West 25
Scott West led 25-15 with only four matches to go after a pion at 170 pounds, but the Royals’ heaviest weights came through in a big way.
Scott West decided to forfeit at 182 pounds after the Royals announced Torres, bringing the Royals within 25-21. That’s when Nick Burns came up with one of the biggest wins of the match for the Royals at 195 pounds, winning a 6-4 decision to bring the Royals within a point with two favorable matchups left for the Royals.
Indeed, Jon Ernst and Davion Franklin came through at 220 pounds and heavyweight, respectively, for the Royals, both winning by fall to secure a win that send the home crowd into a frenzy. Ernst’s pin over Ray Carter in 3:07 gave the Royals a 30-25 lead, ensuring that only a pin would win it for Scott West. Franklin certainly wasn’t going to let that happen, as the state’s seventh-ranked heavyweight needed just 16 seconds for a pin of his own that sent Watertown-Mayer into the championship.
In the early-going, it was a back-and-forth affair. Jackson Sweeney won a 2-0 decision at 106, but Scott West tied it at 113. Adam Traen won a 6-5 decision for the Royals at 120, but New Prague tied it up again at 126. Aaron Sweeney once again gave the Royals the lead with a 7-2 decision at 132 pounds, but a 6-5 decision at 138 for Scott West once again tied the match at 9-9.
Scott West earned the first bonus point of the match with a major decision at 145 pounds, but the Royals got it back and then some when Jon Vouk earned a huge pin for the Royals at 152 pounds. However, Scott West got the six points right back with a pin at 160, and another one at 170 had the Royals on shaky ground until they won the final four matches.
WMML 40, St. Peter 23
In the Section quarterfinals, the Royals advanced to the final four with an easy and expected home win over seventh-seeded St. Peter on Thursday, Feb. 14. The Royals got pins from Jackson Sweeney, 106, Elsenpeter (126), Burns (195) and Franklin (hwt) in the win.
Aaron Sweeney (132) also won a major decision for the Royals, and Adam Traen, Nate Hillmann and Jon Ernst all won decisions as well.
Despite the loss to New Prague, the Royals’ season isn’t over yet. They’ll still have a chance to send individual wrestlers to next week’s state tournament at the Xcel Energy in St. Paul during the individual section tournament in Waconia this weekend. Action gets under way Friday, Feb. 22, at 5 p.m., and again on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m.
Contact Matt Bunke at email@example.com