Mound-Westonka junior Tyler Hebig watched the referee signal a pin in his match against Hutchinson’s Julian Garlipp at 152 pounds.
In 16 seasons as head wrestling coach at Mound-Westonka, Todd Munsterteiger has watched plenty of promising talent come in and go out of the wrestling room. One thing he's never witnessed, however, is his team hoisting a section championship trophy.
The White Hawks have produced a handful of respectable lineups over the years, most notably in the mid-2000s, but were always cemented in the same section as perennial state entrant (and six-time champion) St. Michael-Albertville.
"It was a race for second place," Munsterteiger said.
Not this year.
Class 3A, Section 6 is about as wide-open as they come. No team is ranked by the Guillotine. No one wrestler is ranked higher than second in his respective class. Three of the 14 weight classes have no ranked wrestlers.
When the nine coaches seed the section field Wednesday, the consensus is the eventual champion late Saturday afternoon will come from one of four teams. Maybe.
"Anybody is capable of it," Hopkins coach Pat Marcy said. "It's all about who performs that day."
While section newcomer Willmar is considered the favorite, the Cardinals hardly have tickets pre-punched to their first state team tournament since 2005. By most accounts, the defending section champion Royals, Mound-Westonka and Wayzata all factor into the mix as well.
"We could be in [Section 3] with Apple Valley and have no shot, as other teams have found out," Wayzata coach Tim Hartung said. "The carrot you dangle in front of your team is, 'Hey, we have a shot.' We're capable if we wrestle our best."
Those comments came a day after Willmar defeated the Trojans 43-19 in a late-season dual, further solidifying Hartung's belief that the Section 6 outstaters will give the Section 6 metro teams a good run.
"They beat us up pretty bad," Hartung said. "But there's no reason to be crybabies, hang your head and feel bad about it. It's all about [this weekend]. We got our butts whooped, and if we don't change anything that will be the result again. I don't think any coach will tell you anything is a lock."
The Trojans' season personifies that sentiment.
Wayzata lost to Rosemount by 19 points in late January, then defeated Eagan by 14 a day later. Those same Wildcats lost to the Irish a week before that.
Wayzata lost to Hopkins, which defeated Willmar.
"It's so much a roller coaster all over the place; consistency is hard to find," Hartung said. "You just have to make sure the guys are ready physically, and that their minds are coming with them."
Munsterteiger hopes the comforts of the White Hawks home gym -- site of Saturday's tournament -- is a bonus.
"I'd still call us a dark horse but for the first time in my career we're heading into the section tournament with a shot," he said. "The kids are fired up."