Apple Valley returns to State in a tension-filled 2AAA team tournament

By Brian Jerzak

One of my favorite weekends on the Minnesota high school sports calendar is wrestling’s team section tournament weekend. The state tournament is great, but there is something magical about watching a team make it to state. While looking for a section tournament this weekend, I found a section where I thought I could get three great dual meets. I looked at Section 2AAA with three teams in The Guillotine top twelve.

After an evening of wrestling, my hunch was correct – I saw three great duals. A total of eleven points decided the two semifinals and the finals.

Prior Lake, Farmington, New Prague, and Apple Valley cruised into the semifinals.

Although they were unranked, Prior Lake would push the number one-seeded Apple Valley Eagles to the brink. The Lakers’ number one ranked 107 pounder – Liam Collins quickly put the underdog Lakers in front 6-0. Three matches later, Apple Valley’s Louis Prouty’s second-period fall tied the match at nine.

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This year’s Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic includes two Minnesota standouts

A pair of three-time Minnesota state champions are on the national all-star team taking on a Pennsylvania all-star team tonight at Peters Township High School outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. New Prague’s Koy Buesgens and Simley’s Gavin Nelson are set to compete at 145 and 215 pounds, respectively at the annual Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic.

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Mahoney, Wagner, and Hackman are MWCA Coaches of the Year

Every spring at tournament time, coaches from each high school section vote for their respective Section Head and Assistant Coach of the Year. Head coach selections are then put on a ballot to be voted on by all coaches at the State Tournament for Class AAA, AA, and A Coach of the Year.

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Early fireworks key New Prague’s trip to State

By Brian Jerzak

The state tournament is a great event. The electricity in the building – especially Saturday night during the individual finals – is spectacular. While the sheer number of people is dwarfed, the atmosphere in a packed gym during a section team tournament – in some ways – is even better. The 2AA semifinals featured three of the top six ranked teams in AA and a fourth that was deemed Lean and Mean by the latest Guillotine rankings. To say the atmosphere in New Prague Saturday night was electric would be an understatement.

“Our fans are awesome,” New Prague head coach Dan Wagner said. “They got everyone here. We told them that could be a difference maker – the atmosphere. Our kids wrestle better at home in that atmosphere, and the fans showed up.”

Sometimes in wrestling, the critical match of the dual takes place before the crowd is even settled into their seats. That was the case during the Section 2AA team finals between New Prague and Watertown-Mayer. Lightning struck early and paved the way to the Trojans’ 37-32 victory and a trip to the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament.

The Trojans and Royals would be tested to get to the finals. Although New Prague would win the match by a comfortable margin – 38-20, Coach Wagner knew it would take a complete team effort.

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Community Raised – Dan Wagner and New Prague Wrestling

By Brian Jerzak

I haven’t talked to many coaches of successful high school programs – wrestling or otherwise – that haven’t had great support from their community. Wrestling programs around the state are littered with alumni – both paid and volunteer – rolling with the kids on the mat or raising money to help pay for those mats – doing what they can to help the program they grew up loving.

The New Prague wrestling program has a very similar story – with one key difference. Not only was the Trojans’ wrestling program raised by a passionate wrestling community, but so was their head coach.

Dan Wagner was born and raised in New Prague. He got involved in wrestling early.

“Dr. John Berg had started a youth wrestling program before my time,” Wagner said. “My dad asked me if I wanted to try wrestling, and that is where it started. I didn’t have much wrestling background in my family, but New Prague was a small town, and the doctor in town was running some youth practices.”

Success on the mat didn’t come immediately for the future coach.

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The Guillotine – February 16, 2023

The February 16, 2023, issue of The Guillotine has arrived! Content in this issue includes: No Longer The Hunter – Zach Hanson | Thinking Globally – Skylar Little Soldier | Lace ‘Em Up | Camps, Clinics, and Training | High School Rankings | Just Do It – Essay by Logan Ash | Following In The Footsteps – Koy Buesgens | MWCA Report | View From The Matbird Seat | Officially Speaking | Where Have They Gone? Dave Carlsrud | MSHSL State Tournament Schedule | Performance Nutrition – Artificial Sweeteners | Ask The Doc.

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