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Prep Wrestling Tournament - Individual 3A competition. Trae Story, Roseville, top, and Alex Hart, Prior Lake, wrestled in a 195-lb. match. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(mlevison@startribune.com (cq -program) ORG XMIT: MIN1303011956310717

wrestling five story lines

Apple Valley back to being Apple Valley

1For a time last season it appeared that Apple Valley might be coming back to Earth. St. Michael-Albertville was ranked No. 1 for much of the 2012-13 season and the sentiment among wrestling followers was that the rest of the state was finally catching up to the Eagles. Then Apple Valley and the Knights tied for the state championship, giving the Eagles their eighth consecutive title. Expect this season to be more like previous seasons, with the Eagles clearly the class of Minnesota wrestling. They have five wrestlers ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes: Seth Gross, 138 pounds; Dayton Racer, 160; Mark Hall, 170; Bobby Steveson, 182; and Paul Cheney, 220. Apple Valley is ranked No. 5 nationally by both InterMat.com and the Amateur Wrestling News.

The return of Scot Davis

2In 35 years as a head wrestling coach, including 25 at Owatonna, Scot Davis racked up a national-record 996 dual-meet victories. Davis resigned before the 2011 season amid allegations of recruiting and spent the 2012 season coaching wrestlers at Flathead High School in Kalispell, Mont. A two-year suspension from coaching leveled by the MSHSL has passed and Davis is back as the head coach at Eden Prairie.

Prior Lake steps up

3After years of trying to become an elite-level program, Prior Lake is building on three consecutive Class 3A state tournament appearances and looks to be the biggest challenger to Apple Valley. The Lakers have developed a reputation for strength at the higher weights and this season is no different. They have six wrestlers ranked at 152 pounds and higher, led by Blake Carlisle, No. 1 at 152, and two No. 2-ranked wrestlers, Alex Hart at 220 and Luis Pinto at heavyweight.

Don’t pick against Simley

4 Strange as it seemed, Simley was ranked No. 4 in Class 2A in the preseason rankings. Yes, that Simley, coached by wrestling royalty in Will and Jim Short with five state championships in a row to its credit. While Foley, Totino-Grace and Kasson-Mantorville (the teams ranked ahead of the Spartans) are all quality teams, Simley’s convincing victory in Rochester Century Duals on Saturday is an indication that it doesn’t plan on giving up its crown easily.

Heavy light weight

5 The most competitive weight clearly looks to be 138 pounds in Class 3A. The weight is heavy with talented wrestlers like Gross, Mark Voss of St. Michael-Albertville, Luke Rowh of Hastings, and Ben Brancale of Eden Prairie. Expect plenty of talented wrestlers, such as Osseo’s Carson Brolsma, to elect to compete at a different weight rather than trying to survive that gauntlet.

JIM PAULSEN

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