Dalen Wasmund remembers the start of his teaching career as if it were yesterday. It was as a math teacher at the high school, Apple Valley, where he now serves as wrestling coach.
His classroom debut in 1982-83 just happened to coincide with the start of the Eagles’ supremacy on the mat.
Apple Valley has appeared in every wrestling state tournament as a team during his tenure at the school. That’s right, 34 consecutive trips.
For that streak to continue, though,the Eagles must likely prevail against their toughest section challenge to date — Shakopee. The two schools are both ranked nationally and are 1-2 in the state in Class 3A. The Section 2 meet begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Rosemount, with both schools expected to advance to the championship in the evening.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us,” Wasmund said.
Apple Valley has won 24 Class 2A or Class 3A state championships during its run. The Eagles defeated Shakopee 40-14 for their initial title. They have won 11 consecutive Class 3A championships.
“We had a favorable situation because we had a lot of great coaches in the school, but it’s still hard to imagine,” Wasmund said. “I don’t think anybody could have foreseen this happening.”
Shakopee edged Apple Valley 29-28 earlier this season in a South Suburban Conference matchup. It was the Eagles’ first setback to a Minnesota team in a dual meet since falling to Wayzata in 2006.
“We’ll have a little more incentive,” Wasmund said. “We have to turn some things around. We’re going to have to be almost perfect to beat them. We have very little room for error.”
Jim Jackson is in his second season leading Shakopee after coaching at Apple Valley for 17 seasons before stepping aside in 2012.
“These are two of the top teams nationally that could be going against each other,” Wasmund said. “People will want to come out and watch this for sure.”
Shakopee has four wrestlers ranked No. 1 by The Guillotine while Apple Valley has only one — Gable Steveson (285 pounds). The top-rated Sabers are Aaron Cashman (113 pounds), Carson Manville (126), Brent Jones (132) and Alex Lloyd (152).
“They can make a lot of different moves with their lineup. I expect it to be better than the first time we met,” Wasmund said. “We don’t have as many choices.”
And for the winner, Wasmund says: “Whoever it is will have a good shot at the state title.”