By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Anytime you win a wrestling match it’s considered a big deal, but some victories are a little bigger than others.
Just ask Zach Kuhns of Maple River. He pinned Class AA’s No. 1-ranked wrestler — Austin Anderly — of Le Sueur-Henderson in the first period Saturday to win the championship of the 113-pound weight class at the Mankato East Cougar Invitational.
“I knew he was good but I had never wrestled him before,” said Kuhns, who is currently ranked sixth in Class A with a 19-5 record. “I had seen him when he was younger and then watched him after he transferred to Le Sueur so I knew he was going to be a good wrestler.”
The match was all Kuhns as he got the first takedown, then got a two-point nearfall and finally administered the pin in 1:35.
“That was just a cheap tilt I used to get the first back points,” Kuhns said. “The pin was kind of one of my secret weapons that I learned from watching (defending state champion) Taner Trembley of Lake Crystal. It’s kind of a half-crab that got him to his back and then I just finished him off.”
Watertown-Mayer ended up winning Saturday’s eight-team meet with 240 points. The Royals finished with five individual champions and three runners-up.
Maple River was second with 167 points (1 champ, 4 runners-up) and Marshall was third with 152 points. Rounding out the team placings were Austin in fourth place (116.5), Mankato East in fifth (100), Central of NYA in sixth (98), Le Sueur-Henderson in seventh (75) and Mankato West in eighth (42).
The East Cougars came away with one champion in Cody Lorentz at 160 pounds. He pinned his way through the tournament, sticking Bryce Kallenbach of Watertown-Mayer in the semifinals and upending Allec Estrada of Austin in 36 seconds in the title bout.
“It’s been a so-so season for me,” said Lorentz, who improved to 18-10. “I think I’m wrestling a little better lately. It’s that time of year when you have to get solid and start looking towards the postseason. But I’m still focused on the regular-season meets we have left.”
Mankato West also had one champion in Tyler Jakes at 195 pounds. Jakes had a fall in 2:40 against Nick Burns of WM in the semifinals and then decisioned Maple River’s Tyler Olson 10-4 in the finals.
Jakes, who is seven wins away from the West school record for career victories, has decided to stay up at 195 instead of trying to drop down to 182. He is now 20-1 on the season.
“I just feel better here (at 195),” he said. “It was a tough cut to 82. Now I can eat healthy and not have to worry about the weigh-ins anymore.”
The area’s only other champion was Chris Pfarr of LSH. He improved his record to 27-2 with a semifinal fall in 57 seconds against Riley Grinstead of Austin and a 19-4 technical fall in the finals against WM’s Jon Vouk.
Saturday’s 285-pound finale proved to be a good one as it featured Class AA’s sixth-ranked Austin Natch of Marshall against Class AA’s seventh-ranked Davion Franklin of Watertown-Mayer. Both wrestlers had chances for pins before Nath delivered the coup de grace in 3:35.