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Trojans' Jake Prunty advances to state AA wrestling semis

Jacob Prunty, Worthington, is pictured Friday while on his way to a 13-0 major decision over Ian Wilsey of Mahtomedi in the 126-pound weight class. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)1 / 2
Mason Byrne (195 pounds) of WHS controls Riley Wingert of Plainview-Elgin-Millville en route to an 18-3 win by technical fall. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)2 / 2

ST. PAUL — Looking just as tough as he wants to be, Worthington High School wrestler Jacob Prunty eased into the semifinals of the Minnesota state wrestling tournament on Friday, winning two matches in the first and quarterfinal rounds.

Teammate Mason Byrne won his first match Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, but lost in the quarterfinals, which caused him to compete in the wrestlebacks later Friday night.

Prunty, at 126 pounds, defeated Ian Wilsey of Mahtomedi 13-0 in the first round, then took care of Cameron Kowitz of Foley in the quarters. He will wrestle two-time state champion Charlie Pickell of Mankato West today in the semifinals.

A senior, Prunty will bring a 36-2 record into today’s match with Pickell, who is 46-2.

“I feel good. I’ll feel better tomorrow when I can eat. But I feel good,” Prunty said, smiling, moments after the Kowitz victory.

After weigh-ins Saturday morning, Prunty will be able to eat a cheeseburger. But he’ll have his hands full with Pickell, and he knows it, even though Prunty has already met the Scarlet dynamo twice in his varsity career — as a freshman and a sophomore — and won both matches. They have not met, however, since Pickell became a state titleist.

“He’s really good at stringing one move to the next one,” Prunty said of Pickell. “I’ve got to throw everything I’ve got on him. Keep moving. Keep grinding on him.”

It should be an intriguing match. Both wrestlers are very aggressive. And Prunty, too, is well known for going from one takedown attempt to another without rest. It will be offense versus offense and aggressiveness versus aggressiveness.

Byrne, also a senior, looked dominating in his first match Friday at 195 pounds, scoring an 18-3 technical fall in 3:51 against Riley Wingert of Plainview-Elgin-Millville.

Then in the quarterfinals, Byrne lost 11-2 to Ty Moser of Perham. Twelve seconds into the match, Byrne gave up a low shot on the legs, and Moser rode him the remainder of the first period to take a 5-0 lead into the second. Byrne, whose strength is on top, started there at the beginning of the second period but quickly gave up an escape.

“I knew he was good,” Byrne said. “I was going to take my points when they came.”

But he wasn’t able to take enough.

“I just couldn’t get any stuff I was trying to get. I didn’t want to let it go and let something worse happen. So I tried to make something happen from my feet. … I gotta put that one behind me. Keep going.”

He did, indeed, put it behind him. He won his wrestleback match 7-2 over Carter Utecht of Pine City-Hinckley-Finlayson.

Byrne has faced an uphill climb from the start of the 2018 tournament. He competed for most of the season at 182 pounds, and when he moved up to 195 he was assured that he’d give up weight to his opponents.

WHS head coach Mark Prunty was happy, though, that both of his state tournament wrestlers went at it hard in their first two matches.

“We’re pleased that the kids have gone out and wrestled aggressively — both matches,” Coach Prunty said. “Moser’s been around a long time. We knew it was going to be a tough match. Moser made it a physical match, and that gave him an advantage, being he’s 195.”

As for his son, Jacob: “We like what we see,” said the coach. “I think he’s peaking at the right time.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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