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Wrestling: Worthington wins Section 3AA title, advances to state

WABASSO -- Worthington is on its way to the Minnesota state high school wrestling tournament, following its wins over Wabasso/Red Rock Central 32-26, and Fairmont/Martin County West 34-25 at the Section 3AA Final Four on Saturday in Wabasso.

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Adam Watts/Daily Globe Worthington's Jacob Prunty celebrates as the Trojans clinch the Section 3AA championship with a 34-25 victory over Fairmont/Martin County West on Saturday in Wabasso.
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WABASSO -- Worthington is on its way to the Minnesota state high school wrestling tournament, following its wins over Wabasso/Red Rock Central 32-26, and Fairmont/Martin County West 34-25 at the Section 3AA Final Four on Saturday in Wabasso.

For the second year in a row, a showdown between Worthington and Wabasso/Red Rock Central at the Section 3AA Final Four came down to the heavyweight match, but this time the roles reversed and the Trojans came out ahead in the section semifinal.

“A year ago it was a whole different feeling,” Worthington head coach Mark Prunty said. “It was probably the biggest low you could ever feel as a team. And I can’t say how much it means for this team to win a year later. I’m very proud of these guys. They work hard and they deserve this accomplishment. I don’t want to take anything away from the other teams -- they battle in the room every day like we do. But this is pretty special.”

With Worthington holding a 3-point lead going into the final match against W/RRC, Trojans heavyweight Nic Putnam needed a victory to clinch the dual. And he came up big. Putnam found himself in an early 1-0 hole after his opponent Jared Welch scored a second-period escape. But Putnam promptly scored a takedown for two points, followed almost immediately by another Welch escape, to tie it up at 2-2. Putnam took the lead with an escape right away in the third period and held onto the lead for the remainder of the 2-minute period.

“Heavyweights are not really high scoring matches, usually its 1-1 or 2-2 or something like that,” Putnam said. “So I just knew I had to hit one or two good moves, and even if I didn’t have anything left in me, I had to give it more. I wasn’t going to see that match go by and not give it my all.”

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But even with the victory over the Bobcats in the bag, Worthington still had a long road to hoe, with Fairmont/Martin County West standing in front of them in the final -- a team they narrowly defeated 31-27 earlier this season.

“We told the kids during the Wabasso match, ‘Don’t get too high. Don’t get too emotional, because we’ve got another tough dual with Fairmont,’” Mark Prunty said. “You have to stay even keel. We had a little bit of time in between matches just to collect our thoughts and shut out the lights and get ready for the next one.”

They must have listened, because the Trojans came out firing on all cylinders, and the lightweights came up big to set the team up for success.

Damon Schutz lost 5-0 to W/RRC’s Connor Simmonds at 106 pounds, but did well to not give up any bonus points to the 106-pounder with a 21-2 record. Erik Artiga (113 pounds) earned an 11-5 decision over Cale Steuber, Jacob Prunty (126 pounds) got a 14-6 major decision over Jordan Wolter, and Brayden Donkersloot (145 pounds) got a 6-0 decision over Nathan Simmonds to keep the Trojans within striking distance at 10-13.

“One big win right off the bat was important,” the Worthington coach said. “What the kids did down below was incredible. It was a complete team effort. I’m so proud of this team.”

The Red Bulls took three out of the next four matches, to take a 25-16 lead with three matches to go -- with the lone Worthington win being a Mason Byrne (170 pounds) pin over Tristan Lange in 1:38.

But the Trojans’ senior heavy hitters were ready to go.

The three Worthington seniors -- Vince Riley (195 pounds), Brandon Kempema (220 pounds) and Putnam (heavyweight) all go first period pins to take 18 points and clinch the nine-point victory. Riley won in 0:29, Kempema won in 1:20, and Putnam won in 1:59.

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“It’s pretty special,” Putnam said of qualifying for state in his senior season. “There’s no better send-off than this. And we aren’t done yet. It just feels awesome.”

As good as the lightweights were against F/MCW in the final, they were even better in the semifinal.

“None of it would have been possible if the guys down below didn’t do their jobs,” Mark Prunty said. “You go right out of the gate from 106 and we didn’t lose until 138. I’ll be honest, to win the dual, we thought we had to win 106-to-132. We did. Because they are very strong in the middle. And not only did we do that, but we picked up some bonus points. Really in both duals, our lightweights did their jobs, because we were ahead going into the middle and upper-weights.”

Against the Bobcats, Artiga (106 pounds) won a 5-2 decision, Schutz (113 pounds) got a pin in 4:44, Lay K Paw (126 pounds) won a major decision 12-4, and Jacob Prunty (132 pounds) got a 15-5 major decision to jump out to a 23-0 lead.

But W/RRC matched that, winning the next five matches, to pull back within three at 23-20. But Riley ended its run, pinning Lance Wagner in 1:59 in the 182-pound match.

Bobcats Isaac Schmiesing (195 pounds) and Devan Lieble (220 pounds) earned three points a piece with decisions over Marcos Herrera and Kempema. That set up Putnam’s big win with a 3-point Trojans lead.

“I had to win it for my team to win,” Putnam said. “And I couldn’t let those guys down.”

The Section 3AA champion Worthington Trojans advance to the state tournament on March 2-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

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SECTION 3AA
CHAMPIONSHIP
106: Simmonds (FMCW) dec. Schutz
113: Artiga (W) dec. Steuber 11-5
120: Rohman (FMCW) dec. Hennings 12-7
126: Prunty (W) dec. Wolter 14-6
132: Ringnell (FMCW) maj. dec. Paw 12-2
138: Anderson (FMCW) dec. Pavelko 3-1
145: Donkersloot (W) dec. 6-0
152: Maldonado(FMCW) pin Anderson 3:50
160: Fitzgerald (FMCW) dec. Neuberger 5-2
170: Byrne (W) pin Lange 1:38
182: Steuber (FMCW) dec. Herrera 6-2
195: Riley (W) pin Rahn 0:29
220: Kempema (W) pin Tordsen 1:20
285: Putnam (W) pin Krumholz 1:59

Related Topics: WRESTLING
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