Apple Valley nabs seventh straight Class 3A crown

The Eagles have veterans, dominant eighth-graders -- and tradition.

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It’s an even 20 team championships for Apple Valley, whose wrestlers celebrated their latest Class 3A title Thursday night after defeating St. Michael-Albertville.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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A mix of savvy veterans and skies-the-limit youth paced Apple Valley to a seventh consecutive Class 3A team wrestling championship Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.

The Eagles, ranked among the top three high school teams in the country by a handful of outlets, used five consecutive pins at the middle weights to breeze to a 49-24 victory over St. Michael-Albertville.

Dakota Trom's pin 50 seconds into his match with Mark Voss at 132 pounds broke a 9-9 tie and Apple Valley never looked back.

Trom, a senior, earned pins in all three of the Eagles' matches during team competition to help Apple Valley seal its 20th overall championship in 31 team appearances at state.

"A really good achievement for us to accomplish something like that," said Trom, who begins his bid to become Minnesota's 12th four-time state individual champion Friday. "We're here to compete, and that's what we did."

Fellow senior Brandon Kingsley capped the pin parade 22 seconds into his team championship match at 160 pounds.

In between, a couple of kids who have yet to take a class inside the high school stepped up large.

Eighth-graders Mark Hall (145 pounds) and Mason Manville (152) earned back-to-back pins in a combined two minutes of action. Kingsley's pin one bout later clinched the championship.

The celebration, though, was about as subdued as they come. For 13 team members, another mission starts in the morning.

"I'm honored to be on this team," Manville said. "I'm happy for right now, but as soon as I hit that bed, I'm focusing on everything else."

BRIAN STENSAAS

2A: Five in a row for Simley

Cody Hazelett is not the typical Simley wrestler.

Sure, the 195-pound senior fits the Spartans' mold: a tough, hard-working, dedicated athlete who fits his life around wrestling during the high school season.

But Hazelett is different. Football is his sport. He's got a scholarship to play linebacker at Northern Illinois in his back pocket. Wrestling is a part-time endeavor, which is why his success so defines the Spartans.

Simley won its fifth consecutive Class 2A team championship, rolling over previously undefeated Scott West 36-22. The Spartans spotted Scott West the first match of the night, then won seven in a row to take a commanding lead and were never threatened.

Hazelett wasn't a dominant wrestler Thursday. He wrestled two of three matches, winning one and losing one. He came through when it counted, however, with a pin in the finals.

"A kid like Cody is what our program is all about," Simley coach Will Short said. "He's a part-time wrestler, but he's a great athlete and he dedicates himself to the wrestling program when he's here. We have a lot of kids like that at Simley. They see the connection we have here. It's like a second family and they want to be part of it."

Simley finished the season with a 28-3 record. All three of the Spartans' losses were to teams from other states in holiday tournaments.

"That proved to us what we needed to do," Hazelett said. "We always go 100 percent. It's always intense. That's what it takes to be a winner."

JIM PAULSEN

1A: Three in a row for Jackson Co.

Randy Baker calls Luke Norland "the coolest cucumber we have."

Jackson County Central's third Class 1A team championship in a row needed every bit of Norland's cool.

After spotting previously undefeated Kimball leads of 15-0 and 18-6, Jackson rallied with five victories in six matches, three of them pins, in beating the Cubs 35-28.

Baker called Norland's pin at 152 pounds the biggest of the match.

"We weren't sure what we'd get there," Baker said. "We thought maybe he would get us three points. But he came up big. When he won there, that got us a little fired up."

Even with Norland's inspirational pin, Jackson would not have won had it not been for the performance of the Moore brothers.

Eighth-grader Keegan won a major decision at 138 pounds, freshman Paden pinned his man at 145, and senior Cooper remained undefeated on the season with a major decision at 170.

"That's the kind of thing they've been doing all year," Baker said. "We expect that out of Cooper. This is his fifth year at the state tournament. He knows what to do."

JIM PAULSEN

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