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Shakopee wrestlers used tested strategy to win third straight 3A title

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 03/25/21, 7:00PM CDT


The Sabers sought to keep St. Michael-Albertville from gaining bonus points while falling behind early before rallying to win their last four matches.

Shakopee wrestlers reacted after winning the Class 3A team championship, a moment that teams have not been able to celebrate in-person in a state tournament venue since last March. Photo: Carlos Gonzalez *

At first, it was all about cutting their losses. In the end, it was about complete domination.

Leaning on its top-heavy lineup, Shakopee rallied with victories in the final seven matches to storm past St. Michael-Albertville 30-24 and win its third consecutive Class 3A team wrestling state championship.

The Sabers were the No. 1 seed in the meet by virtue of their 24-0 record heading into the tournament Thursday at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

They survived a strong challenge from Anoka in the semifinals, coming back to win 34-25 after falling behind 25-16 with four matches to so. The Sabers trailed again in the finals, 24-3, after St. Michael-Albertville 145-pounder Jed Wester pinned Shakopee’s John Kroll.

A loss, sure, but it was the way Shakopee lost that mattered.

Until Kroll was pinned, Shakopee was keeping the score close by not allowing the Knights to rack up bonus points. The Sabers lost six of the first seven matches of the finals, getting only a tight 3-1 victory from No. 1-ranked Blake West at 113 pounds. But in doing so, they kept St. Michael-Albertville from running away with the match until they could get to the strength of their lineup.

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