Viking wrestlers ranked No. 1 in Section 3A
This season has not been Minneota's finest hour — based basically on numerous injuries and the fact several players didn't compete this year.
To it's credit, the Minneota Vikings have earned the No. 1 spot in the upcoming Section 3A tournament that begins Thursday, Feb. 15.
The four surviving teams from Thursday's action will face off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 at Windom. The Section 3A Championship will follow at 2 p.m.
The winner will enter the state tournament.
A play-in match between Adrian (8) and St. James (9) will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Minneota. The winner will wrestle No. 1 Minneota at 7:15 p.m.
Other matches will include:
Wabasso/Red Rock Central (4) vs. Jackson Co. Central (5) at Lamberton, 7 p.m.
Canby (3) vs. Pipestone Area (6) at Canby, 7 p.m.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (2) vs. Windom Area/Mt. Lake, at Tracy, 7 p.m.
If Minneota survives on Thursday, they will wrestle either Wabasso/RRC or Jackson Co. Central in the first match on Saturday.
The other bracket will include: Canby or Pipestone Area vs. Tracy-M-B/W-WG or Windom Area/ML.
Minneota has defeated Wabasso/RRC; Canby; Pipestone; Windom Area/ML and Tracy-M-B/W-WG this year.
However, they've lost 120-126-pounder Brant Buysse due to an injury, are likely to have TJ Esping back at heavyweight after he suffered a broken finger, and while the team expects Eric Carrasco back (106), he suffered an arm injury and nothing is certain.
"We're ranked No. 1 — but shorthanded," said Coach Joel Skillings.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove is ranked No. 2 — and while the Vikings beat them, they present a formidable foe. And with at least Buysse out, on paper, that makes the match closer.
Pipestone is the defending Section 3A Champ, having defeated Minneota in the finals last year.
Records of the Minneota wrestlers include:
Blake Reiss 22-13
Cole VanOverbeke 29-9
Shawn Buysse 26-9
Teddy Pesch 22-8
Austin Kloos 15-14
Brant Buysse 19-6
Kade Lozinski 19-14
TJ Esping 25-4
Eric Carrasco 15-12
Jonah Gruenes 17-12
Kyle Banks 15-16
Layne Lozinski 12-15
Jason Johnson 5-9
Jackson Esping 10-17
Josh Laleman 14-17
Truman Wambeke 1-4
James Gednalske 0-5
Trey Gronke 1-5