There is speculation that Apple Valley might face a serious challenge in its quest for a 10th consecutive Class 3A team title and 23rd overall. The source of that speculation is none other than Apple Valley coach Dalen Wasmund.
Wasmund expressed concern that his team, should it reach the finals as expected, will face a battle if the opponent is St. Michael-Albertville.
“They might be more balanced throughout their lineup,” Wasmund said. “We’ve got some great wrestlers, but we’ve got some ups and downs. They’re consistently good and don’t have any holes.”
Twelve of the 14 St. Michael-Albertville starters qualified for the individual tournament, the most of any team in Class 3A. Eleven are ranked among the top 10 in the state and three are ranked No. 1 at their weights, according to the most recent rankings by www.theguillotine.com. Those three are Mitchell McKee (126), Jake Allar (138) and Jordan Joseph (182).
Apple Valley counters with nine individual qualifiers and three top-ranked wrestlers of its own: Mark Hall (170), Bobby Steveson (195) and Gable Steveson (220).
In 2013, the Knights appeared poised to end the Eagles’ string of state titles. The teams wrestled to a 28-28 tie in the finals and were awarded co-championships.
• Apple Valley is making its 34th state tournament appearance, the most of any program in state history. St. Michael-Albertville is making its 25th tournament appearance, third in state history.
• Farmington, the No. 4 seed, is making its first tournament appearance. The Tigers wrestle South Suburban Conference rival Prior Lake, which is seeded No. 5, in the quarterfinals. The teams split a pair of dual meets during the season. Prior Lake won 44-25 in the Ron Edwards Duals on Dec. 13. Farmington returned the favor 39-27 in the Kasson-Mantorville Duals on Jan. 24.
• The first four wrestlers in Centennial’s lineup are two sets of siblings: Emily (106) and Tyler Shilson (126) sandwich the Bergeland brothers, Jack (113) and Jake (120).
• Bobby Steveson’s only loss for Apple Valley this season was to Totino-Grace senior Lance Benick, a 3-2 decision in the 195-pound finals at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament. Steveson (32-1) is the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the nation at 195 pounds. Benick is ranked No. 1.
• St. Michael-Albertville senior Jordan Joseph won the Class 3A 170-pound championship as a sophomore but stepped away from wrestling last year to concentrate on baseball. After earning a spot on the Gophers baseball team, Joseph has picked up where he left off on the mat. He’s 41-1 and ranked No. 1 at 182 pounds.
• There are six undefeated wrestlers in the Class 3A individual tournament: Adam Hedin, Rosemount, 41-0, 132 pounds; Carson Brolsma, Osseo, 39-0, 152; Mark Hall, Apple Valley, 38-0, 170; Gable Steveson, Apple Valley, 39-0, 220; Andrew Piehl, Rogers, 35-0 and Alex Hart, Prior Lake, 31-0, heavyweight.