Wrestling story lines

Will Apple Valley's window ever close? The Eagles have been the standard-bearer for Minnesota wrestling for more than a generation. They've had a tremendous run thanks to top-flight talent such Mark Hall, Gable Steveson and Destin McCauley. Apple Valley is the heavy favorite to win another Class 3A title this season. And with just four seniors in the starting lineup and five non-seniors ranked in the top 10 in their respective weight classes, the Eagles' run of success looks set for the near future.

Daniel Kerkvliet changes mind: Simley's stellar 220-pound junior, who had verbally committed to Minnesota in 2016, recently changed his commitment to Oklahoma State instead. Speculation is that he projects as a heavyweight in college, but would be slotted behind Apple Valley's Gable Steveson if he came to Minnesota. The relentless Kerkvliet, a two-time Class 2A individual champion, has a 95-3 record over the past two seasons. He's ranked No. 2 nationally at 220 pounds and No. 3 overall in the class of 2019. In September, he won a world championship, taking the 100 kg title at the World Cadet Championships in Athens.

Patrick McKee is No. 1: The St. Michael-Albertville senior, a two-time individual state champion (106, 120), prepared for his final high school campaign by winning the 120-pound championship at the prestigious "Who's No. 1?" tournament in Bethlehem, Pa., in October. McKee, who will join older brother Mitchell at Minnesota next year, was seeded No. 4 going into the tournament. He defeated top-seeded Robert Howard of Bergen (N.J.) Catholic 5-1 in the final. McKee is expected to wrestle at 132 pounds for the Knights this season.

Lynden Wilson is tougher than cancer: The Hastings junior, nephew of Raiders' coach Josh McLay, has beaten back Hodgkin's lymphoma not just once, but twice. His treatment has included two rounds of chemotherapy, sapping much of his strength. Yet Wilson is not yet ready to give up on his goal of wrestling for the Raiders, who took fourth place in the Class 3A state meet last February and are likely to return this season. McLay lists Lynden as the expected starter at 132 pounds this season. "He is still recovering from the chemo effects on his body," McLay wrote in his preseason outlook. "I hope he is able to wrestle and stay healthy because it is what he loves."

Shilson aims for first state victory: Centennial junior Emily Shilson became just the second girl in state history to wrestle in the state meet when she qualified at 106 pounds last year. She lost her only match but is back, a year more experienced, trying to become the first female wrestler in state meet history to win a match. There's added motivation for Shilson and the entire Centennial team. The Cougars are wrestling in memory of coach Steve Peterson, who died of brain cancer Nov. 10, just two years after being elevated from assistant coach to head coach.

Jim Paulsen