Mahtomedi High School has a vibrant athletic tradition with state championships in eight different sports and state qualifiers in almost every one.
One sport that always lagged behind was wrestling. Mahtomedi had never gone to state in wrestling.
Until now. The 2019 state Class AA tournament lineup will include the Mahtomedi Zephyrs for the first time.
“We knew this would be our year,” said Reed Lawrence, “and we have worked hard all year to get here.”
Mahtomedi conquered South St. Paul 42-25 in the Section 4AA finals at home Saturday, with Lawrence delivering a pivotal win at 152 pounds, to punch that elusive ticket to state. The crowd was big and noisy. "Best crowd we've ever had for wrestling here. That was really neat," coach Matt Oswald said.
The Zephyrs reached the finals beating two undermanned teams, Chisago Lakes 75-6 and North Branch 60-10, and will take a 23-11 record into the state tournament Thursday, Feb. 28, at Xcel Energy Center.
After the trophy was hoisted for the crowd and all the gold medals were hungs around he kids necks, Oswald huddled with his squad.
“I told them that this is a testament to our program, to some wrestlers who’ve been with us for six years, to guys who’ve worked hard and got other kids out for wrestling, and who grew the sport in Mahtomedi.”
Hearkening to progress made last year — they reached the section finals for the first time, but got smoked by South St. Paul 58-16 — Oswald said the kids vowed right after that match to do everything they could to earn another shot.
“I told them that what they did today is really something special for the sport of wrestling in Mahtomedi, and I am proud of them, their parents are proud, their school is proud and the community is proud.”
In the finals, the Zephyrs got pins by Bryce Fitzpatrick, Ian Wilsey, Collin Grandstrand, and Alec Zell, and decisions by Hunter Wilsey, Jake FitzPatrick, Lawrence, and Nate Kujawa, and a forfeit at heavyweight.
“The 152 match was huge, when Reed went up against a state-ranked wrestler and beat him,” Oswald said. “I think 120 was one that could go either way, too, and Hunter Wilsey stuck with it and got the win (10-9). But 152, I think South St. Paul had that one in the win column.”
“Yeah, he’s beaten me three times,” said Lawrence about Christoffersen — who appeared on his way to another when he took a quick 4-0 lead.
But Lawrence got on the board with an escape, then earned a takedown, then rode that momentum and got the Packer on on his back for three near-fall points, and clung to the 6-4 lead until the horn. Rather than an 18-18 tie, the Zephyrs had opened a 21-15 lead.
"That was huge," Lawrence agreed.
The clincher was Zell’s pin against Caleb Binman in 2:11 that made the score 35-21 with two matches left. Asked if he knee he’d secured the state trip, Zell said, “Not at first, but when I got off the mat and looked up and saw the scoreboard, and all the guys were freaking out, then I knew.” Zell sprinted past the bench slapping palms to celebrate.
Oswald said the process started last summer when the Zephyrs attended a team camp in Wisconsin Dells, which fostered team unity and purpose. From there, he said, “Last summer there was a lot of weight training and a lot of off-season wrestling. Wrestling is a tough sport. You have to work at it.”
The section individual meet will be held Friday and Saturday at South St. Paul.
Mahtomedi 75, Chisago Lakes 6
106 - Lewis Pieper (Mahtomedi) forfeit
113 - Ethan Carlson (Mahtomedi) forfeit
120 - Hunter Wilsey (Mahtomedi) forfeit
126 - Owen Chow (Mahtomedi) pin Hayden Trupe
132 - Jake Fitzpatrick (Mahtomedi) forfeit
138 - Bryce Fitzpatrick (Mahtomedi) pin Nolan Huffman
145 - Ian Wilsey (Mahtomedi) forfeit
152 - Reid Lawrence (Mahtomedi) pin Charlie Schumacher
160 - Nate Kujawa (Mahtomedi) pin Austin Siefert
170 - Collin Grandstand (Mahtomedi) dec Isaiah Sistrunk 9-5
182 - Hunter Hall (Mahtomedi) forfeit
195 - Alec Zell (Mahtomedi) pin Ben Klun
220 - Connor Bleymeyer (Chisago Lakes) pin Isaiah Okoro
285 - Elijah Heatherston (Mahtomedi) forfeit
Mahtomedi 60, North Branch 10
106 - Lewis Pieper (Mahtomedi) pin Zachary Wendel
113 - Ethan Carlson (Mahtomedi) dec Gage Krech 8-6
120 - Hunter Wilsey (Mahtomedi) dec Ashton LaBelle 7-5
126 - Jake Fitzpatrick (Mahtomedi) pin Brandt Bombard
132 - Josh Logan (North Branch) maiden Owen Chow 13-3
138 - Bryce Fitzpatrick (Mahtomedi) forfeit
145 - Ian Wilsey (Mahtomedi) dec Austin Sonnek 9-6
152 - Reid Lawrence (Mahtomedi) injury default over Trevor Anderson
160 - Nate Kujawa (Mahtomedi) pin Sam Sonnek
170 - Collin Grandstand (Mahtomedi) pin Sean Harrington
182 - Hunter Hall (Mahtomedi) dec Isaac Maki 8-2
195 - Tony Kammerer (Mahtomedi) forfeit
220 - Alec Zell (Mahtomedi) forfeit
285 - Brandon Swanson (North Branch) pin Elijah Heatherston
Mahtomedi 42, South Saint Paul 25
106 - Maxx Beeler (South Saint Paul) pin Lewis Pieper
113 - Will Nihart (South Saint Paul) pin Ethan Carlson
120 - Hunter Wilsey (Mahtomedi) dec Roman Cortez 10-9
126 - Jake FitzPatrick (Mahtomedi) dec Maverick Whitethorn 2-1
132 - Micah Diaz (South Saint Paul) dec Owen Chow 8-4
138 - Bryce FitzPatrick (Mahtomedi) pin Camron Wigand 3:12
145 - Ian Wilsey (Mahtomedi) pin James Johnson 1:46
152 - Reid Lawrence (Mahtomedi) dec Quinn Christoffersen 6-4
160 - Nate Kujawa (Mahtomedi) dec Kaleb Barnes (South Saint Paul) Dec 8-6
170 - Collin Grandstand (Mahtomedi) pin Nixon Stroud :49
182 - Gavin Christoffersen (South Saint Paul) pin Hunter Hall 3:04
195 - Alec Zell (Mahtomedi) pin Caleb Binman 2:21
220 - Jarod Stroud (South Saint Paul) majdec Tony Kammerer 14-2
285 - Elijah Heatherston (Mahtomedi) forfeit