Vikings dominate the day

TRACY – Saturday proved to be a busy day for local wrestling fans as five area teams competed in the Plum Creek Wrestling Tournament at Tracy’s Veterans Memorial Center. After six hours of mat time were complete, the Minneota Vikings had successfully defended their title at the annual tournament, demolishing their opponents en route to a perfect 4-0 record.

With the exception of their dual against Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley, which Minneota won 42-33, the Vikings did not concede more than nine points to their opponents. For the seventh-ranked team in Class A, the weekend rout was another piece in the quest to return to the state tournament.

“I think we’re a good work in progress,” Minneota head coach Joel Skillings said. “We’re still a young group of people and they’re really coming together as a team. I guess that’s the most important thing and they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it. So we’re just going to keep trying to find areas where we can improve.”

A noticeable area of improvement for the Vikings has been at the upper weights. After graduating a pair of the state’s best in Adam Josephson and Josh VanOverbeke after last season, the Vikings turned their final three weight classes over to Willy Flood, Luis Macias and Doug VanKuelen. The trio went a combined 9-1 on the day, with six of their wins coming by pin fall.

“Those guys are putting in a lot of time and they’re very coachable kids,” Skillings said. “They maybe came into the season a little green, but the more mat experience that they get and the more time they get to see good competition the better they are going to get.”

Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley took second place with a 3-1 record, though it merely eked out a win over the Marshall/Lakeview Tigers.

The Tigers led 27-9 after Ramzi Gregoire’s pin of Keith Abraham at 145 pounds. The United followed up by scoring falls in five of the final seven bouts to force a 39-39 tie between the two section rivals. It took nearly 10 minutes to determine the winner, but on the eighth tie-breaker (first points scored in each match) D-B/LQPV was named the victor by a margin of 12-10.

“It was a little heart breaking I think for the boys, but I think it showed them that we can wrestle with Dawson and we have the capability,” Marshall head coach Justin Bouwman said. “A lot of our kids came out and put on a good show. We had it going and kind of missed a step in there somewhere and they caught us there at the end.”

Marshall/Lakeview bounced back with a rousing 66-12 win over Fulda/Murray County Central, just as they had avenged a loss to Minneota to start the tournament with a 48-30 clobbering of Tracy-Milroy- Balaton/Westbrook-Walnut Grove.

“I think some of the guys took out some frustration on Fulda after losing that close one to Dawson,” Bouwman said. “One of our goals all week was to wrestle with Dawson and beat Dawson, hoping to get us the No. 1 team seed in the section in the north. I think we kind of took it out on them.”

The host Panthers took fourth with a 1-3 record, while Fulda/MCC went 0-4.

Minneota led all teams with seven undefeated individuals for the tournament. Five Vikings went 4-0, while three of those competitors recored three of their victories by pin fall.

The United and the Tigers each had three undefeated individuals, with United grappler Jordan Staab going 4-0 with four pins. Ramzi Gregoire was the only Tiger to win in all four duals, picking up a pair of pins in the process.

Logan Axford and Austin Peterson were a combined 8-0 with five falls for the Panthers, whereas Ben Loosbrock’s 3-0 mark for Fulda/MCC was the only unblemished record for the Warriors.

Each of the teams will be back in action during the upcoming week. Marshall travels to Wabasso to take on the Wabasso/Red Rock Central Bobcats on Tuesday, and the United play host to both Benson and Minnewaska Area the same day. TMB/WWG hosts Worthington on Tuesday as well.

Fulda/MCC travels to Worthington for a triangular on Friday, but the marquee matchup of the week is on Thursday as the No. 7 Vikings host the No. 5 Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Saints for a dual with major implications for seeding come sections.

“We’ve seen them in a tournament, but to be honest, duals are always different,” Skillings said of KMS. “It’s going to be one of those situations where I think we’re going to go in and try to get our, I guess, our brand of wrestling. But they’re really a very, very good team and we need to respect that. We’ll just try to see where they’re at and where we’re at and where we can go in the next few weeks.”