Wrestling: JCC begins state title defense today
ST. PAUL — The Jackson County Central Huskies seem to prefer taking things one step at a time, and today they’ll take part in the team portion of the Class A State wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in search of their fifth straight state crown.
The first hurdle for the Huskies to clear will be Minneota/Lincoln-HI, a team that defeated Adrian in the Section 3A final to reach the state tournament. JCC — currently ranked fifth in its class — enter the tournament as the fifth seed and is Section 2A’s champion.
Minneota is the fourth seed but is ranked third in Class A. The Vikings have seven entrants for Friday and Saturday’s individual tournament and so do the Huskies. The two squads will square off at 9 a.m. today.
The winner of the Minneota/Lincoln HI and JCC match will wrestle at 1 p.m. in the Class A championship semifinals against either top-seeded Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City or unseeded Sibley East. The first-round losers wrestle at 11 a.m. in the consolation semifinals.
JCC head coach Randy Baker has repeatedly expressed his satisfaction with how his team has performed recently. JCC has won 16 of its last 18 outings. Included in that run are victories over quality teams such as Omaha’s Skutt Catholic, Totino-Grace and Windom/Mountain Lake.
“We’ve been coming on toward the end here. We’ve had some individuals step up and we certainly had a good individual section last week,” Baker said. “Most of the kids wrestled to their seed, so that was good.
“We’ve got some pretty seasoned guys that have certainly helped us and we have some other guys who have been working hard, too,” he added. “I also have some really good assistant coaches who help with strategy and with helping our kids improve and get to the next level.”
Winning a wrestling dual all boils down to matchups. Minneota and JCC each have ranked wrestlers at 106 pounds and 160. Those weights, and a few others, are weights Baker will be keeping his eyes on.
“One-hundred twenty-six pounds is an important matchup, and they have state entrants at 152 and 160, and so do we,” Baker said. “They also have a young heavyweight that has been doing well for them.
“They’re a tough team, and from what I’ve heard they’re not easy to get big points on. They’re a well-coached team and it’s certainly not an easy match,” he continued. “They’re fairly young too. They’re young and hungry.”
“Class A is pretty wide open and there are some really good teams in there,” Baker said. “It just comes down to matchups and how well your kids are wrestling.”
State individual tournament begins Friday morning
The individual portion of the state wrestling tournament begins at 9 a.m. Friday. Along with the Huskies seven entrants to the event, several other area teams also have qualified a few. Worthington enters five, Windom/Mountain Lake has four, Adrian has four, Wabasso/Red Rock Central has four, Pipestone Area has three and Fulda/Murray County Central and Luverne each have one.
The individual state finals are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday evening.