GROVE CITY — Area wrestling fans will be in for treat tonight as Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg will march into Grove City to square off against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in a 7:30 p.m. battle of two highly-ranked Class A prep teams.
The Falcons are No. 2 behind only powerhouse Jackson County Central and are unbeaten in 13 duals this season. They have also won four invitationals and placed third in a tough field that was led by JCC and Prior Lake, ranked No. 3 in Class AAA, at the Hutchinson Invite on Jan. 19.
No. 5 KMS has basically the same credentials as ACGC. The Fighting Saints are 10-1 in duals — their only hiccup a narrow 31-29 loss to No. 4 Wabasso/Red Rock Central on Jan. 9 in Wabasso — and have won three of four individual tournaments. The only tournament they didn’t win was Dec. 15 in Redwood Falls when they finished fourth behind Wabasso/RRC and United South Central and Maple River, arguably the two best teams behind JCC in a loaded Section 2.
“I think it’s going to come down to who can save bonus points,” said ACGC coach Mike Amsden. “It’s going to be a great match with a lot at stake for both teams. KMS is very tough and are solid all the way through.”
KMS coach Wes Haglund agreed.
“It will probably come down to bonus points. Our lineup is pretty solid throughout and theirs is, too. It should be one heck of a match.”
Both the Falcons and Fighting Saints have five wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of their weight classes and get the bulk of their points in the mid-to-upper weights. The Falcons have the distinction of being one of only two Class A schools to have two No. 1 wrestlers as unbeaten Larry Bomstad (28-0) heads the 145-pound class and Logan Peterson (28-2) is the top-ranked wrestler at 138.
While KMS doesn’t have a top-ranked wrestler, it does have two guys that are No. 2, unbeaten Zach Carlson (24-0) at 152 and Jordon Rothers (23-1) at 170. Those two weights could be turning points in the match as ACGC will more than likely put out No. 10 Lee Whitcomb (22-5) at 152 and No. 4 Maverick Whitcomb (23-3) at 170.
ACGC also has Lucas Damm (24-4) ranked No. 6 at 220 while Cody Peters (23-1) is No. 3 at 126, Jorge Munoz-Peterson (20-5) No. 7 at 195 and Chase Norton (16-4) No. 9 at 220 for the Fighting Saints.
“Matchups will be key as well, depending on where everyone weighs in at,” said Amsden. “I’m guessing their guys need to get their last few weigh-ins at their section weights, as do we. So you should see a lot of great matchups.”
With all that firepower, the team that can grab some momentum early on might have the upper hand in the non-conference dual between two Highway 12 programs that are separated by about 30 miles.
Highlighting the top of the lineup for ACGC is Rylan Molinaro (17-11), Robert Rasmussen (25-6), Tyler Berghuis (12-2) and Derek Dengerud (18-9). KMS can counter with Caleb Collins (17-10), unbeaten Jordan Engler (12-0), Nick Meyer (18-6) or Cody Peters (23-1).
Both teams have beaten New London-Spicer, currently ranked No. 9 in Class AA, and have a combined 12 wins against schools that are in a higher class. Among feather-in-your-hat wins for ACGC is a 44-21 drubbing of Class AA No. 3 Foley, while KMS has a pair of wins over Class AAA schools Willmar and St. Cloud Apollo.
“The only advantage I think we have is we’re at home,” added Amsden. “Our guys wrestle very well at home and we have a great fan base that packs our gym and gets pretty vocal for added motivation.”
Before the match with ACGC, KMS will wrestle Paynesville at 6 p.m. in Grove City. The evening was originally scheduled to have Sauk Rapids participate as well, but the Storm told the ACGC athletic department that they wouldn’t be able to come because of skin issues the team contracted earlier in the week.