It seemed like a foregone conclusion going in.
And if it wasn’t, it was by the time Pierz stepped on the mat.
Any thoughts of an opponent springing a monumental upset were dashed early on by the ninth-ranked Pioneers, Feb. 14, as Pierz clinched its fourth Section 7A championship in a row.
After a 77-0 first round win over Nashwauk-Greenway-Keewatin, Feb. 11, put the top-seeded Pioneers in the final four, they took down host fifth-seed Holdingford 67-10 in the semifinals before dismantling third-seeded Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena 56-15 in the championship.
Pierz built an 11-0 lead against Holdingford with a pin from seventh-grader Reese Kapsner and technical fall from freshman Brandon Ortman before the Huskers got on the board with a fall by junior Jamey Koetter.
Pierz then put the dual away with seven wins in a row, including pins from seniors Evan Woitalla and Jordon Goebel and sophomore Kolton Eischens, a technical fall by senior Brandon Sullivan, two forfeits and an overtime decision by Chris Ortman in a match-up of ranked wrestlers.
Holdingford would pick up its only other win at 182 pounds, a 16-2 major decision by junior Nathan Brinker, before Pierz closed the dual with a pin from junior Austin Gall and two more forfeits.
In the finals, Blackduck would manage to split the first four weights before Pierz captured nine of the final 10 bouts to secure the title.
Sullivan, Chris Ortman, Woitalla, Eischens, Gall and senior Curtis Brisk earned falls in the dual, with Brandon Ortman and freshman Matt Kummet picking up major decisions and freshman Brett Kapsner winning 2-0.
Pierz was scheduled to host the Section 7A individual tournament, Friday – Saturday, Feb. 21 – 22.
State tournament schedule
Pierz will wrestle against third-seeded Chatfield in the quarterfinals of the Class A state team tournament Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Depending on the outcome, Pierz will either wrestle the winner or loser between Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale and second-seeded Frazee.
The consolation semifinals are at 11 a.m. and the championship bracket semifinals are at 1 p.m.
Third place and consolation championship duals will be at 5 p.m. and the championship round is at 7 p.m.
Individual state action continues Friday – Saturday, Feb. 28 – March 1.