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KMS grabs glory again

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg team members celebrate their victory over Kenyon-Wanamingo in the Class A wrestling final on Saturday evening at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 3
With KMS trailing 19-0, Saints' 130-pounder Aaron Doraska cranks Kenyon-Wanamingo's Skyler Quamme to his back during the Class A team final as KMS coaches Wes Haglund, left, and Craig Johnson hope for a pin. Doraska won 12-10. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 3
Brad Kneisl, top, of KMS works over Caleb Langer of Kenyon-Wanamingo in the 189-pound match. Kneisl won 10-4 to clinch the championship for the Saints. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton3 / 3

ST. PAUL -- The Fighting Saints won their second state title of the school year on Saturday. Now all they need is one more for a piece of hardware to be placed in each town: Kerkhoven, Murdock and Sunburg.

"This is the greatest feeling I've ever had," said Brad Kneisl on the floor of the Xcel Center after KMS had brushed off an upset attempt by No. 2 Kenyon-Wanamingo 32-25 last Saturday afternoon.

Kneisl, a starting tackle on the Saints' championship football team, provided the decisive points with his 10-4 victory over Caleb Langer (28-6) at 215-pounds, good for an insurmountable 32-19 lead.

Kneisl (45-5) had lost twice on Friday but came back to win his fifth-place match on Saturday.

"I was disappointed, but I've got no excuses," said Kneisl. "This (the team title) is more important, anyway, than an individual title."

Fittingly, in his final high school match, future Gopher Kevin Steinhaus' pin at 160 put KMS into the lead for the first time, 20-19.

It was his seventh win of the tournament, 50th of the season and 250th of his career. He has only 12 career losses, the last coming in ninth grade in this building in the state semifinal round.

Senior Mitch Hagen (49-0, 7-0 at state) went into overtime to beat a more-muscular opponent in Josh Jacobson. Hagen got a single-leg takedown at the edge of the mat and a three-point nearfall for five points and a 7-2 win.

Junior Joel Bauman (45-2) added a first-period fall for a 29-19 KMS lead with two matches left.

The drama was down low. As expected, the Knights put KMS on the defense with four state qualifiers, including state champion Drew Lexvold, in the first four weights, taking a 19-0 lead.

Aaron Doraska, the hero in Friday's win over Medford with a vitally-needed comeback win, stopped the bleeding again.

Trailing Skylar Quamme 6-0, Doraska got busy with a reversal and three back points in the second period and added more back points in the third. He survived a reversal and near back points to win 12-10.

"Well, I knew we had to win," said the 135-pound sophomore. "(My teammates) were counting on me to get it going."

KMS wrestlers would win the next seven matches. The outcome was still in doubt when sophomore Trevor Mahlum locked up Jarid Groth at 152 pounds. The match went to overtime where Mahlum scored a takedown which set off a euphoric celebration in the KMS fan section

The top seed still trailed 19-14 but had state champs stationed at the next three weights.

Still, Saints head coach Wes Haglund pointed to his early weights as being a key.

"My light weights limited our losses by not getting pinned," said Haglund. "We were pinned only twice the whole (team) tournament. I can't feel too bad about that."

The Saints (17-1) lost one match each of the last two seasons but didn't make it to state last year when they lost in the Section 3A final to Canby.

Junior Jacob Engler, who won by a major at 140, said: "This feels really good. We earned it. We've worked hard for this."

The two state high school titles this year are the first ever for the towns, either separately or as a consolidation.

KMS 32, Ken-Wanamingo 25

103: Mitch Lexvold, KW, mj Kurt Timmons 10-2

112: Oakley McLain, KW, dec. Tyler Carlson 15-10

119: Chad Lexvold, KW, dec Jordan Rothers 3-0

125: Drew Lexvold, KW, pin Joey Paulson 3:25

130: Guy Wunderlich, KW, dec. Klint VanHeuveln 8-3

135: Aaron Doraska, KMS, dec. Skyler Quamme 12-10

140: Jacob Engler, KMS, mj Nathan Cordes 17-6

145: Aaron Zimmer, KMS, mj Jake Baalson 15-3

152: Trevor Mahlum, KMS, dec. Jarid Groth 5-3, OT

160: Kevin Steinhaus, KMS, pin Derek Melhouse 2:17

171: Mitch Hagen, KMS, dec. Josh Jacobson 7-2, OT

189: Joel Bauman, KMS, pin Aaron Dahlgren 1:28

215: Brad Kneisl, KMS, dec. Caleb Langer 10-4

285: Luke Hainka, KW, pin Adam Wentzl :46