After a regular season that sputtered along in fits and lurches, Zumbrota-Mazeppa junior Spencer DeFrang rid himself of more than a few disappointing memories with the best meet of his career.
DeFrang, a 138-pounder who had gone into the state tournament with an 11-8 record, recorded two pins and a victory, including a decisive pin over highly regarded Reese Kapsner in the finals, to help the Cougars to a 35-16 victory over Pierz that gave them their first Class 1A wrestling championship Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
“That was probably one of the better feelings ever,” said DeFrang, who emerged from the victory with both arms raised and biceps flexed as the Zumbrota-Mazeppa faithful roared their approval.
“I don’t usually do that,” DeFrang said. “It just came out.”
The impetus for Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s victory came last year, when the Cougars lost to Caledonia in the Section 1 finals.
“Yeah, that hurt,” Zumbrota-Mazeppa coach Link Steffen said. “It bothers me to this day. But they were the better team that day. That fueled us to get better this season.”
The Cougars are usually at their strongest in the heavier weights but found surprising success at the lower weights, with DeFrang’s victory the biggest of them all.
“We know [Pierz] is strong at the upper weights, too, so we knew we couldn’t take them lightly,” Steffen said.
Steffen said he wasn’t sure winning the title was possible a few weeks ago. “We weren’t sure we had it in us,” he said. “But we stayed consistent and it worked itself out.”