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Believe: Kimball Area wins first 1A wrestling team championship

By NICK KELLY, Special to the Star Tribune, 03/27/21, 8:00PM CDT


The Cubs fell behind 15-0 in the first three matches in the finals before rolling to victory, using their season-long one-word motto.

Kimball Area wrestlers celebrate their Class 1A wrestling championship. The Cubs defeated Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie in the final duel match Saturday at St. Michael-Albertville High School. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

The Kimball Area wrestling team didn’t enter the 2020-21 season with any complicated goals. No fancy mission statements. Just one word.


Introduced by assistant coach Doug Joseph at the beginning of the season, “believe” was adopted as its motto. Before the Cubs could actually defeat section opponent Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City for the first time in a decade, they had to believe it. Then before the Cubs won the first state title in program history, they had to believe they could.

And then they did it.

Top-seeded Kimball defeated No. 3 Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie 49-21 to win the Class 1A state wrestling title Saturday at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

“We like to personify the word ‘believe,’ ” Cubs coach David Joseph said. “We told them yesterday and today, ‘Belief doesn’t know what the score is. It just keeps going.’ ”

Kimball proved that Saturday. After the first three matches, the Cubs trailed 15-0. Then, sophomore Gavin Winter pinned Aiden Larson at 126. Kimball rolled to 49 consecutive points from there, not losing another match until heavyweight.

“He was struggling there a little bit to get a pin, and we really needed him to for momentum purposes, and he got it there at the end,” Joseph said of Larson. “So that kind of started the train rolling.”

One of the more swift and impressive victories came from Zack Holtz at 160. The senior captain registered a takedown and three near falls before he won by fall with 1:40 left in the opening period.

The Raiders couldn’t find any way to win until the very end, even when it looked as if they could snatch away some victories. Kimball freshman Haden Rosenow found himself down 8-4 heading into the third period of his match at 182. Then he pinned Tyler Eggert with 1:35 left, clinching the team title.

“He believed,” Holtz said, “and he got ’er done.”

The individual championship session was Saturday night.

Individual competition

Sibley East’s Drayden Morton (132), Minnewaska Area’s Tyson Meyer (182) and Badger-Greenbush/Middle River’s Dominik Vacura (220) each picked up their third state titles Saturday. They’re each undefeated state champions, too.

Joining them as undefeated title winners are Caledonia/Houston’s Brandon Ross (120), Sibley East’s Derek Steel (126), Jackson County Central’s Payton Handevidt (152), Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville’s Mason Gode (160), Chatfield’s Seth Goetzinger (170) and Benson’s Thomas Dineen (195).

Handevidt and Gode also won state championships in 2020.

Class 1A champions

106: Nolan Ambrose, Jackson Co. Central
113: Hudson Burnett, Pipestone Area
120: Brandon Ross, Caledonia/Houston
126: Derek Steele, Sibley East
132: Drayden Morton, Sibley East
138: Kade Sammons, Windom/Mountain Lake
145: Blaine Fischer, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
152: Payton Handevidt, Jackson Co. Central
160: Mason Gode, Long Prairie-GE/Browerville
170: Seth Goetzinger, Chatfield
182: Tyson Meyer, Minnewaska Area
195: Thomas Dineen, Benson Area
220: Dominik Vacura, Badger-G-Middle River
285: Shane Noyes, Canby

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