It’s been written about in these pages already, but in case you haven’t heard, a new team champion will be crowned in Class 3A.
Apple Valley, which had won or shared the past 12 Class 3A team titles (co-champs with St. Michael-Albertville in 2013), was defeated by Shakopee in the Section 2 final, ending a remarkable 35-year run of state tournament appearances.
Is that a good thing for the Class 3A field? It does give other teams, such as giant-killer Shakopee, Anoka and St. Michael-Albertville hope, and that’s always a positive. Apple Valley had a polarizing effect on fans. But the Eagles’ sustained continued excellence, which some loved and others did not, always drew eyes.
Shakopee, top-ranked in Class 3A, has just one dual-meet loss, to Frazee in The Clash duals in January. Anoka, winner of the Minnesota Christmas tournament in December, has just one loss to a Minnesota team, a 29-28 decision to Scott West in early December. St. Michael-Albertville lost by just two points to Shakopee midway through the season and has few weaknesses.
Apple Valley’s incomparable heavyweight Gable Steveson is shooting for his fourth consecutive title. He hasn’t lost a high school match since eighth grade, a string of 159 consecutive victories.
St. Michael-Albertville senior 126-pounder Patrick McKee will be seeking his third consecutive championship. He won at 106 pounds as a sophomore and at 120 last year. McKee (45-0) has been on a roll since winning the 120-pound championship at the prestigious Who’s No. 1 tournament in Pennsylvania in October.
Centennial junior Emily Shilson is back. She won at 106 pounds in the Section 4 meet and will be making her second try to become the first girl to win a state meet match. Shilson (25-6) will wrestle Owatonna’s Blake West in the first round Friday.
Other undefeated wrestlers are Maple Grove 106-pounder Joey Thompson (42-0), Anoka 152-pounder Tyler Eischens (45-0), Owatonna 160-pounder Peyton Robb (44-0) and his teammate, 182-pounder Cade King (40-0), Moorhead 182-pounder Riley Schock (23-0), Hastings 195-pounder Trey Rogers (42-0), and North St. Paul heavyweight Corey Guenther (33-0).