By Tyler Ohmann
Having been to state the past six years as a team, Pierz, hoped to return to the title for the first time since the
Pioneers captured the 2005 title.
With a 32-1 record, the state’s No. 1 ranking and a No. 2 seed entering the state tournament, that hope was not unfounded.
That happened to be exactly where the Pioneers found themselves come
Thursday evening — wrestling Zumbrota-Mazeppa for Class A dominance.
The Cougars knocked off No. 1 seed Frazee and the defending champs, Kenyon-Wanamingo, while Pierz beat Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sundberg and avenged its only loss of the season with a win over West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville.
It was set to be a good match-up and it started just that way.
After ZM got up a 4-0 lead, Pierz’ Sebastian Warzecha won by major decision at 113 pounds to tie it up.
Once again the Cougars regained the lead, only to see the score tied back up at 10 by a Brandon Ortman pin for the Pioneers at 132 pounds.
However, that is where it began to slip away.
Pierz fell behind 19-10, 23-16, despite decision victories by Jalen Jansen at 152 and Logan Lease at 170.
Both teams were strong at the top weights, but the Cougars rattled off four straight decision victories to capture the title.
First, senior Brett Kapsner lost his first match of the year, 5-4. Matt Kummet followed suit with a 3-1 loss, also his first of the year.
Sophomore Carson Huls and senior Troy Fischer lost 5-0 and 5-3 respectively to make it official, a 35-16 loss.
“That was a tough one,” Kapsner said. “I came out real flat.”
However, it was a strong ride into the title game for Pierz.
In the quarterfinals, the Pioneers rolled over KMS, 44-19.
After falling behind 0-6, back-to-back decisions by Warzecha and sophomore Jake Andres tied it up.
Ortman won by major decision at 132 for Pierz, and Andrew Tomala, a senior, won by decision to keep the match close.
Jansen gave the Pioneers their first lead with a pin at 152 pounds.
Kapsner added a pin, Kummet a major decision win and Huls a decision win to go up even bigger.
Austin Dickmann closed out the victory with a pin at heavyweight.
In the semifinals, the Pioneers were up against the only team to defeat them in a dual all year, the Knights.
The Knights went up 9-0 early, but Lukas Popp changed the direction of the match with a pin with nine seconds left to keep Pierz close.
Ortman, Reese Kapsner and Tomala all won by decision to give Pierz the lead.
However, the Pioneers would fall behind again, 18-15.
Brett Kapsner earned a pin at 170 pounds. Kummet and Huls both earned major decision wins at 182 and 195, respectively. All three of the wrestlers moved up one from their normal spots.
“I think our depth at the top was key at state,” Kapsner said.
Dickmann lost by decision at 220, but that was enough to make the lead insurmountable.
Fischer capped off the victory with a pin to make it 35-21.
Pierz concluded the team season with a 34-2 dual record and Class A runner-up finish.
“The team wrestled well, and up to our potential,” said Pierz head coach Mark Jensen. “The Zumbrota team was pretty strong, and they deserved to win, they were a better team.”
“But there is only one thing better than being the champion and that is second place, so I’m proud of the guys,” Jensen added.