KMS one step from top rung
ST. PAUL -- It will be No. 1 against No. 2 for the Class A championship at 7 p.m. this evening at the Xcel Energy Center.
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, the No. 1 seed, making its first-ever state trip will attempt to duplicate the football championship it won on the other side of the river in November. No. 2-seed Kenyon-Wanamingo never got here until last year, when the Knights captured the consolation title.
The Saints, in typical fashion, came on like a freight train in the upper weights to overtake No. 4 Medford 33-26 early Friday afternoon in the team semifinals. K-W took out No. 3 seed Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 42-17 at the same time.
Today's showdown matches teams with their primary strength at opposite ends.
The Knights have state qualifiers at the first four weights in Oakley McLain and Mitchel, Chad and Drew Lexvold. The Saints counter with four state qualifiers who together have posted a gaudy record of 178-5 through Friday's team competition: Kevin Steinhaus, Mitchell Hagen, Joel Bauman and Brad Kneisl.
Yet if there was a hero for the Saints against the Medford Tigers it was unheralded sophomore Aaron Doraska.
By winning four of the first five matches, Medford led 16-6.
The Tigers were looking for another win from Cole Kavitz (26-10) at 135. He dominated early, taking a 6-2 lead as Doraska gamely fought off several pin attempts.
Kavitz went for a stick in the second period, but Doraska caught his arm and threw a headlock on the Tigers' junior and pressed him to the mat to get a fall in 2:34.
It was a nine, possibly a 12-point swing, and KMS trailed just 16-12.
Medford won at 140 to go up by seven and again at 152 for an eight-point lead, 23-15.
But it was like putting a 50-cent piece on the rail, inconsequential to the Saints Express.
Steinhaus faced another state semifinalist in Jake Elzen (36-6) but it made no difference; the two-time state champion got his second pin and fourth fall of the state tournament and the 243rd win of his varsity career.
Hagen and then Bauman followed with hard-won decisions and a 27-23 KMS advantage.
Kneisl pinned his man in one minute to put it out of reach. In his first four matches at state, the KMS pin machine has four pins in 4:41.
Adam Wentzel, at 285 pounds, lost 3-2 to a 20-win wrestler Tom Schrodt to end the match, but tonight's championship could still be up for grabs when it gets to heavyweight.
Also against Medford, KMS got a key pin from Tyler Carlson at 112 and a decision from Aaron Zimmer, a state qualifier at 145.
KMS 33, Medford 26
103: Zach Keller, M, dec Kurt Timmons 7-6
112: Tyler Carlson, K, pin Adam Utzinger 5:12
119: Austin Peters, M, maj Jordon Rothers 13-4
125: Curt Maas, M, tcfl Joey Paulson 22-6
130: Brad Maas, M, maj Klinton Van Heuveln 13-4
135: Aaron Doraska, K, pin Cole Kavitz 2:34
140: Zach Kanzenbach, M, dec Jacob Engler 5-2
145: Aaron Zimmer, K, dec Brad Keller 10-4
152: Tyler Yule, M, maj Trevor Mahlum 16-7
160: Kevin Steinhaus, K, pin Jake Elzen 4:49
171: Mitchell Hagen, K, dec Calab Svenby 8-4
189: Joel Bauman, K, dec Reid Balzer 11-6
215: Brad Kneisl, K, pin Steve Schulz 1:00
285: Thomas Schroht, M, dec Adam Wentzel 3-2