The Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran wrestling team got off to a strong start to the season last week with a pair of duals wins and a fourth-place finish at Glencoe-Silver Lake’s nine-team Don Hall Invitational.
The Royals opened the season Friday, Dec. 6, with duals against St. Peter and Eden Prairie as part of a home triangular. The Royals opened the night with a 36-19 win over St. Peter and closed the night with a 38-27 win over Eden Prairie.
“We wrestled pretty well,” Watertown-Mayer coach Joe Traen said of the season-open triangular. “We were a little sluggish in that first match against St. Peter, being our first competition, but then we looked a lot better against Eden Prairie.
The next day in Glencoe, on Saturday, Dec. 7, the Royals finished with three individual champions as they scored 148 team points to take fourth place. Zumbrota-Mazeppa was the champion with 179 points.
Royals 36, St. Peter 19
After a major decision for St. Peter at 132 pounds brought the Saints within 15-10, the Royals rattled off four straight decisions -— two of them by just two points — to take a 27-10 lead, and control of the match.
The streak started with an 8-2 decision for the Royals’ Corey Jobe at 138 pounds, and Joe Jobe followed with a 7-5 decision at 145 pounds. Aaron Sweeney picked up a 5-1 decision at 152, and Jon Vouk earned a 4-2 decision at 160 pounds.
St. Peter briefly stole some momentum back with a pin at 170 pounds, but Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran quickly regained control of the match with a 5-1 decision from Jesse Heck at 182. Logan Cooper’s 9-3 decision at 195 pounds sealed the victory for the Royals, before Zach Larson added a 6-1 win at 285 pounds.
The night also got off to a strong start for the Royals when Kendall Nowlan picked up a 10-3 win at 106 pounds. St. Peter got a pin at 113, but the Royals got it right back at 120, when Bryce Duske earned a pin 9 seconds into the third period.
“They had a couple kids that we expected to see in the lineup that weren’t in the lineup,” Traen said of St. Peter. “That was two good kids that we thought were going to be in the lineup, and they ended up having to forfeit one.”
Royals 38, Eden Prairie 27
WMML seized control of the match early, taking a 20-0 lead thanks to a forfeit, a pin and two major decisions.
Nowlan won by forfeit to start the night, and Collin Flynn’s pin at 113 pounds gave the Royals a 12-0 lead. Duske added an 11-2 major decision at 120, and Jackson Sweeney won 13-0 at 126 pounds, giving the Royals their 20-0 lead before Eden Prairie finally got on the board with a 6-5 decision at 132 pounds.
A technical fall at 138 and a decision at 145 had the Eagles within 20-11, but Aaron Sweeney’s second-period pin at 152 extended the Royals’ lead to 26-11. Eden Prairie scored a decision at 160 and a major decision at 170, closing to within 26-18.
However, Logan Cooper once again sealed the win for the Royals, earning a second-period pin at 195 pounds to put the match out of reach, 32-18, with two matches left.
Eden Prairie got a pin at 220, but Larson once again closed the night on a strong note for the Royals with a pin at heavyweight in the second period.
“Eden Prairie had some really good kids,” Traen said. “I was pleased. We really had very little information on Eden Prairie for matchups, so we just wrestled it straight up, and it worked out for us.”
Don Hall Invitational
The Royals finished in fourth place with 148 points, but had three regular varsity wrestlers out of the lineup, and finished only 11 points out of second-place, which went to Glencoe-Silver Lake/Lester Prairie.
“I thought we wrestled well, but we had three starters out,” Traen said. “The kids that were there wrestled well. The kids we expected to do well did well. We missed a few opportunities to place with some other kids, but it was just one thing here or one thing there.”
Three Royals won individual championships on the day, including Nowlan, who went 3-0 on the day to claim the 106-pound title and remain unbeaten on the season.
Corey Jobe also finished first for the Royals, going 3-0 to claim the title at 132 pounds. Aaron Sweeney also went 3-0, and claimed the 152-pound title.
On his way to the 106-pound title, Nowlan won a major decision in the first round, survived a 2-1 decision in the semifinals, and then defeated Kimball’s Payton Schiefelbein, 10-1, in the finals.
At 132 pounds, Corey Jobe won be technical fall in the first round, and then advanced to the finals with a pin in the semifinals. He beat St. Clair’s Bryce Flowers by technical fall in the finals.
At 152 pounds, Sweeney earned two quick pins in the first two rounds, needing just 1:22 in the first round and 20 seconds in the semifinals. He later earned an 8-6 decision over Trinity at River Ridge’s Dietrich Balsbauh in the finals, and was named the tournament’s MVP.
Second-place finishes for the Royals included Collin Flynn, who went 1-1 on the day at 113 pounds, but suffered an injury; Jackson Sweeney, who went 1-1 at 126 pounds, Third-place finishes for the Royals also went to Duske, who went 3-1 at 120 pounds, Jon Vouk, who went 2-1 t 160 pounds, and Zach Larson, who went 2-1 at heavyweight. Matt Pysick finished sixth at 170 pounds.
The Royals return to the mat on Thursday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m at Rockford. They continue their busy weekend on Friday, Dec. 13, with a home triangular against Norwood Young America and New Prague, beginning with WMML vs NYA at 5 p.m. The Royals will take on New Prague at about 8 p.m. WMML will also wrestle at the Delano Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 14.