Sabers and Eagles start the season off with a bang

By Brian Jerzak

Apple Valley – What a way to start the high school wrestling season. When the clock hit double zeros, and Apple Valley’s Tanyi Besong completed his 3-1 victory, the scoreboard read Shakopee 29 Apple Valley 28. For the first time in ten years, the Apple Valley Eagles’ wrestling team came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard against a team from Minnesota. It was the first time since 1991 that the Eagles lost a conference dual meet.

I don’t know how long ago wrestling programs must have their schedules set, but kudos to the Apple Valley Eagles and Shakopee Sabers for putting on an outstanding show and for jumping right into the season with a number one versus number two match up. The gym was packed with wrestling fans from around the area. In addition to Apple Valley and Shakopee fans, I spotted an Owatonna shirt and Farmington shirt in the stands, and I am sure there were, even more, communities represented.

The dual meet had just about everything you would want and some things you don’t. Six matches were decided by four points or less. There were wrestlers doing all they could to either get bonus points or save bonus points late in matches. Unfortunately, there were penalty points for unsecured shoelaces and an injury default. Six matches would involve two wrestlers ranked in The Guillotine top ten. There were two coaching staffs moving kids up and down the line up trying to get the matchups they wanted.

“All the guys wrestled great,” said Shakopee’s Brent Jones. “They all wrestled with their hearts out – especially our 195-pounder (Abe Ngaima) and our 220-pounder (Pat Ruhland). They wrestled tough for us at the end to get us the win.”

It all added up to high drama from match one – well match two since the public-address announcer announced before the 106 match that Shakopee would forfeit at 285.

With team points at a premium, Shakopee’s 3rd ranked Max Crowe’s 2nd-period ride out of 8th ranked Dylan Anderson was the first of many key moments in the dual. It led to a big 4-2 victory and the first team points for the Sabers.

After Apple Valley had gone up 9-3, Shakopee’s number one ranked 113-pounder, Aaron Cashman bumped up to 120 and had a workmanlike performance to defeat the 10th ranked 120 pounder Peyton McLagan 9-5.

Unfortunately for Apple Valley and 126th pounder Brady Gross, he appeared to injure his ankle and could not continue. The six-point injury default victory was an unfortunate, but critical moment in the dual meet.

The Eagles’ 6th ranked 132 pound Sebas Swiggum did what was expected of him when he pinned unranked Sammi Treml. That setup Shakopee’s number one ranked Brent Jones bumping up to 138. In his way was 6th ranked 138-pounder Kyle Rathman. Jones showed why he is ranked number one by not only defeating Rathman but majoring him.

“I thought I wrestled really well,” Jones said. “I have never been able to major him ever in my life.”

That extra point would prove to be critical because of back-to-back shoelace infractions by Shakopee’s Jones and then Sam Webster. Neither had their shoelaces taped down properly. The first infraction would cost Shakopee one team point and the second infraction cost the Sabers’ Webster one point, forcing him to start his match down 1-0. The 8th ranked 138-pounder who bumped up a weight worked his way back and still defeat 5th ranked Nate Larson.

“That was my fault,” Shakopee head coach Jim Jackson said. “They were right. I have to look in the mirror. I am the head coach – the buck stops with me. I should have known better.”

The number one ranked 145-pounder Alex Crow moved up a class and kept the Sabers rolling with a major decision win over 10th ranked Devin Roberts. The bonus points continued for Shakopee as number one ranked 152-pound wrestler Alex Lloyd secured the second straight major decision with a 20-9 win.

It looked like the Eagles were about to be out of the match, but 5th ranked 160-pounder Jalon Thul moved up two weights and used a late 3rd-period takedown to win 12-4 and get his team a bonus point. 10th ranked Jonah Johnson was locked in about the most exciting 0-0 first period you could imagine. Both Johnson and Shakopee’s Jack Casey looked to have takedowns secured, but both scrambled out of trouble multiple times. Early in the second period Johnson finally caught Casey in a bad position and got the fall. The victory would cut the Shakopee lead to one point.

The final two matches were critical for the eventual victors. At 195 Ngaima broke open a scoreless match with Apple Valley’s 9th ranked 195-pounder, Tyler Kim, when he executed a five-point move and nearly got the fall. Kim would come back, but Ngaima’s lead was too much to overcome. His 8-4 victory meant, to get the tie, Apple Valley’s 4th ranked 220-pound wrestler – Besong – needed a major decision victory over Shakopee’s Ruhland. Last season in the section finals Besong pinned Ruhland, but the night was Shakopee’s night. Besong dominated the match but was not able to get through Ruhland’s defense enough times to score more than one takedown. Besong’s 3-1 win would make the final score 29-28 for the Shakopee Sabers.

“It was a great dual meet,” Jackson said. “It was great for wrestling. You want to be ready at the end of the year. That is the biggest thing. Hopefully, we can do it again, but (Apple Valley) is a tremendous program with tremendous kids. Six of those kids I taught in middle school. They wrestled extremely well.”

It was a great night in Apple Valley. Yes, it was just the first match of the season, and yes, it is likely the two teams will meet again with the stakes much higher, but for one night it was a great night of wrestling.

Shakopee 29 Apple Valley 28
285 Gable Steveson (AV) FF
106 Max Crowe (SHAK) Dec. Dylan Anderson (AV) 4-2
113 Regan Schrempp (AV) dec. Tyler Jones (SHAK) 4-0
120 Aaron Cashman (SHAK) dec. Peyton McLagan (AV) 9-5
126 Carson Manville (SHAK) inj default Brady Gross (AV)
132 Sebas Swiggum(AV) fall Sammy Treml (SHAK) 1:48
138 Brent Jones (SHAK) maj. dec. Kyle Rathman (AV) 10-2
SHAK lost 1 team point before 145
145 Sam Webster (SHAK) dec Nate Larson (AV) 4-2
152 Alex Crow (SHAK) maj dec. Devin Roberts (AV) 15-4
160 Alex Lloyd (SHAK) maj dec. Tony Watts (AV) 20-9
170 Jalon Thul (AV) maj. dec.Carson Poshusta (SHAK) 12-4
182 Jonah Johnson (AV) fall Jack Casey (SHAK) 2nd period 53 sec
195 Abe Ngaima (SHAK) dec. Tyler Kim (AV) 8-4
220 Tanyi Besong (AV) dec. Pat Ruhland (SHAK) 3-1

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