Kasson-Mantorville wrestlers won the Class 2A title a year ago and are heavy favorites again. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune)
Most observers and wrestling fans believe the Class 2A team championship was decided nearly two weeks ago, when No. 1-ranked Kasson-Mantorville, the two-time defending champion, defeated No. 2-ranked Simley 34-25 in the Section 1 final.
It was a rematch of the 2017 state championship match, but took place at the section level this year after the Minnesota State High School League reconfigured section alignments.
Simley coach Will Short said it was unfortunate that the two best teams in Class 2A were in the same section, but that he understood the high school league’s priorities.
“They’re not interested in having the best teams in the tournament. They want regional representation and that’s been the way they’ve always done it,” he said.
Kasson-Mantorville has rarely been challenged this season. The KoMets are undefeated and have defeated every opponent, with the exception Simley, by more than 20 points.
Third-ranked Scott West has an outside shot at taking down Kasson-Mantorville. The Belle Plaine/Jordan co-op is the best Class 2A program to never win a title for the better part of two decades, with 17 state tournament appearances and four runner-up finishes.
Simley’s superb 220-pounder Daniel Kerkvliet is the best individual wrestler in Class 2A regardless of weight. He is a two-time state champion (190 last year, 170 in 2016), won a world championship at the UWW Cadet Championships last summer and came within one point of defeating Apple Valley’s Gable Steveson in a match last month despite wrestling up at heavyweight.
The only undefeated wrestler in the field is Kasson-Mantorville’s 182-pounder Patrick Kennedy (23-0), the 2017 champ at 170. Other returning champions: Mankato West 126-pounder Charlie Pickell (113 last year), Simley 132-pounder Jake Gliva (126), Waconia 152-pounder Tyler Wagener (145) and Foley heavyweight Mitch Trigg.