By Jim Rueda firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mankato Free Press
---- — ST. PAUL — Five 1-point matches.
That’s all Scott West co-head coach Darren Ripley could talk about after his team was defeated 33-21 in the championship of the Class AA wrestling meet Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
“We lost the close ones,” Ripley said. “If win all of those by a point instead of lose, that’s a 30-point swing in the team score.”
The Panthers reached the championship dual with a 40-27 quarterfinal win over Milaca and a 30-23 victory over second-ranked Foley. Eighth-grader Jackson Stauffacher got the Panthers off to a good start against Simley, defeating fourth-ranked Jake Gilva 6-4.
Simley rebounded to win the next two bouts, and that forced Scott West to make some adjustments.
“We had to bump everybody up after that,” Ripley said. “But we got the matchups we wanted, we just needed to win some of those 1-pointers.”
Scott West’s No. 1-ranked David Flynn downed fourth-ranked Cortez Arredondo 3-2 in four overtimes at 126 pounds, but Simley returned the favor later when third-ranked Trom Peterson defeated second-ranked Derek Dahlke 5-2 at 182 pounds.
Despite the setback in the finale, Scott West got some good news at heavyweight with the emergence of Josiah Schatz. The unheralded sophomore stepped into the spotlight in the semifinals and stayed there through the championship dual.
Against Foley, Schatz took on senior A.J. Belanger with Scott West clinging to a 24-23 lead.
With 30 seconds left in the match, Schatz rolled Belanger over and delivered a pin to give the Panthers the 30-23 win. He went on to pin his Simley opponent, as well.
“I don’t know, I just went out and wrestled the best that I could,” said Schatz, who was held out of the quarterfinal round and went into the tournament with a 6-5 record.
“I didn’t have anything unusual for lunch, just the usual stuff; I had sandwiches and ice cream and stuff like that.”
“He was one of our bright spots today, that’s for sure,” said Ripley. “He looks like a very promising wrestler. I’m glad we’re going to have him for two more years.”
On the day, Jackson Stauffacher (106 pounds), David Flynn (126), Zach Siegle (145) and Andrew Fogarty (170) all went 3-0 for Scott West.
As for the runner-up team performance, Ripley said he was pleased with the effort.
“We started out the season ranked ninth in the state, and we finished wrestling for the championship,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of these kids”