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Prep wrestling: Worthington steps up at tough tournament

ZUMBROTA -- Worthington took on some top-tier competition and came away with two wins in three tries Saturday at the Zumbrota-Mazeppa Dual Tournament.The Trojans earned a 35-26 win over Caledonia but dropped a tough 34-25 decision against Class A...

ZUMBROTA - Worthington took on some top-tier competition and came away with two wins in three tries Saturday at the Zumbrota-Mazeppa Dual Tournament.
The Trojans earned a 35-26 win over Caledonia but dropped a tough 34-25 decision against Class AA’s third-ranked team, Albert Lea. The match of the day for Worthington, however, was against Owatonna, a perennial powerhouse that is currently ranked eighth in Class AAA.
The Trojans fended off a torrid Huskies’ comeback effort by minimizing bonus points for their opponents down the stretch. That made all the difference in a 36-35 triumph for Worthington.
“When you enter a tournament like this, in some ways you’re hoping to just come out in one piece,” Trojans’ head coach Mark Prunty said. “Last year - the first year that we went to this tournament - it was a grind for us. This year we went over there and we really showed that we belonged there. I’m really proud of our guys.”
Against Owatonna, Worthington got out to an 18-6 lead when Jacob Prunty (106) pinned Kaden Nelson in 2:23, Hser Eh Pwae (113) won by forfeit and Ethan Pavelko (126) stuck his opponent in just 1:10. The Huskies answered with three straight wins, temporarily giving them a 20-18 lead.
The Trojans got back to it at 152 pounds. There, Zach Bruns started a string of three straight pins when put his foe on his back in 3:14. Cody Michelson (160) and Vince Riley (170) needed only 52 and 54 seconds, respectively, to pin their opponents and the Trojans led 36-20 with four matches to go.
Owatonna won all of the last four matches, but only one win was by more than just a decision. Brandon Kempema (182), Nic Putnam (220) and Ty Veen (285) not allowing bonus points was crucial in preserving the win.
“Our kids knew their role,” coach Prunty said. “We knew going in that Owatonna in their upper weights had some really good kids. Our guys did a nice job going out there and battling, not giving up those extra points. Sometimes how you lose is just as important as how you win.”
Ironically, the veteran head coach said Worthington’s best bout was perhaps the one it lost.
Going into the 160-pound bout against Albert Lea, the Trojans trailed 25-10 with Jeffrey Camacho taking a key 6-3 decision at 138. Michelson (160) and Riley (170) came through with clutch decisions of 5-3 and 4-2 to keep the Trojan hopes alive.
Down 25-16, Kempema stuck Tigers’ 182-pounder Brady Nielsen in 3:43 to bring his team back within three.
“Kempema’s pin really put us back in the match,” coach Prunty said.
Albert Lea gave itself a little bit of a breathing room with a decision at 195, but Nic Putnam came back with a 3-1 victory at 220. That set the score at 28-25 in favor of the Tigers. The Trojans had a chance to pull off the upset with one match to go.
Unfortunately for Worthington, it wasn’t meant to be. Albert Lea’s Matt Palmer got the pin to seal a victory.
“The kids wrestled extremely well all day,” coach Prunty said. “Against Albert Lea, we had a chance to win the dual going into the last match, which is fantastic. We won a couple nailbiters to keep us in it. That was probably our strongest match of the day.”
Three Trojans - Riley, Pwae and Prunty - ended the day with a mark of 3-0. Riley and Pwae had a pin each while Prunty stuck two of his opponents. Michelson, Camacho and Pavelko were all 2-1.
Worthington (11-3 overall) will see its next action in a home triangular against Fulda/Murray County Central and Fairmont/Martin County West on Thursday.

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