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Minnesota state wrestling: Prunty 3rd, Byrne 6th

Jacob Prunty of the Worthington Trojans, shown here in a Friday match, finished third at 126 pounds in the Minnesota state Class AA tournament. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)1 / 2
Worthington High School senior Mason Byrne (wearing the dark singlet) wrestles Saturday at the Minnesota state tournament in St. Paul as coaches watch at the far left. Byrne won the match, which gave him 100 wins in his career. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)2 / 2

 ST. PAUL -- Worthington High School head wrestling coach Mark Prunty took two senior Trojans with him to the 2018 Minnesota state tournament, and both of them placed.

His son, Jacob Prunty, placed third at 126 pounds in Class AA. The other, Mason Byrne, placed sixth at 195 pounds and along the way secured his 100th career victory.

All in all, a good tournament for WHS at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

“I thought both Jake and Mason made the most of their state tournament opportunities,” said the veteran coach.

Not every personal goal was achieved. Jacob has had his eyes set on a state individual championship since his junior year, when he finished fourth at 120 pounds (going 4-2, with both of his losses coming by one point). He wanted a state title at 126 pounds in this, his senior season, but came up short again when he lost his semifinal match to Charlie Pickell of Mankato West.

As for Byrne, his biggest moment came in his final match in the wrestlebacks, where he decisioned Jacob Schmitz of Dassel-Cokato 8-5 for his milestone career win. If Byrne had not achieved that win at that time, he would not have gotten another chance. With the win, he not only avoided getting stuck at 99, but he assured himself of placing at state.

Immediately after the 100th win, Byrne and his coaches held up a hand-made sign of congratulations for Worthington fans to see. Coach Prunty said that before they were allowed to display it, they had to get permission for that, and for a congratulatory photo, from a security guard.

There were no balloons, however, which usually accompanies a 100th-win celebration.

“I don’t even know how you hide those and bring them in to the state tournament,” Coach Prunty said.

In his semifinal match with Pickell on Saturday morning, the younger Prunty was thrown onto his back just 40 seconds into the first period. The throw came with back points and Prunty, trailing 5-0, could not sufficiently recover. He rode Pickell hard in the third period but was unable to turn the Scarlet over, and lost 11-1.

“It was hard,” Mark Prunty said. “It’s really, really hard to come back after a semifinal loss. Jake was feeling good before his match, and first place was his goal. But I was happy how he was able to put it behind him quickly.”

In his next match, Prunty decisioned Cael Berg of Simley by a 3-0 score. And in his third-place bout, he looked in total control en route to a 6-2 win over Cade Lundeen of Thief River Falls.

Prunty, who will wrestle for Concordia-Moorhead next year, finished his senior season with a 38-3 record. He was 156-8 for his career.

After notching his 100th, Byrne lost his last wrestleback match 3-2 to Nick Nolan of Watertown-Mayer-Mayer Lutheran 3-2. That sent him into a fifth-place battle with Jim Paulson of Kasson-Mantorville, which Paulson won by fall in 2:31.

Byrne posted a 27-6 record in his senior season. And he fought through adversity to do it. Not only did he go up in weight for the sectional and state tournaments (he competed mostly at 185 during the regular season), he was not at optimum physical condition at state. In his final Section 2AA match, he tweaked his knee, which limited his practice time. He may have been wrestling with a meniscus tear at state.

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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