(DATE CHANGE: The section meet had originally been scheduled for Saturday, but due to a conflict with gymnastics, the wrestling meet has been moved to Friday evening. The meet starts at three, with the Magic’s first match beginning at 4 p.m.)
For the first time in a few years, Monticello will head to team sections Friday as something other than the top seed. Despite that, the Magic have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
First and foremost, they’re the two-time defending champions. The experienced wrestlers know what it takes to get it done this time of year, and the less experienced ones are likely eager to continue the program tradition.
Secondly, and just as importantly, they’re finally wrestling with a full lineup. For just the second time all year, and thanks to an eighth-grader at 106 pounds, Monticello will not be taking any automatic forfeits in a match.
Besides that, Monticello has a little home mat advantage. Team sections are taking place at Monticello High School on Friday, giving the boys familiarity and an atmosphere they hope to be able to take advantage of.
“It’s a little bit of an advantage” said Coach Andy Zigan, in reference to the crowd. “I hope people come out and support us. It’s going to make a difference.”
And if those factors aren’t enough to give the Magic confidence heading into the biggest meet of the season, there is one other source.
The Magic can derive confidence from the last meet of the regular season, where Monticello crushed the competition, winning the nine-team Mound Minnetonka tournament by 31.5 points.
The Magic got off to a quick start in the lighter weights at the tournament last Friday, which is something they’ll need to accomplish this Friday as well.
“That’s the meat of our lineup,” said Zigan. “If they can get off to a good start, it’s going to give the upper weights some confidence.”
Friday, Tevin Zavidel earned a second-place finish at 113 pounds. That was backed up by Logan Stiller earning a championship at 120. The senior earned a decision, a major decision and then a 6-3 decision in the finals to win his bracket.
At 138 pounds, the Magic continued their winning ways. Zach Beaumaster picked up wins, 27, 28 and 29 on the year as he picked up three pins on his way to an individual championship.
Carter Barnes, wrestling at 152 pounds, finished second after earning two pins to get to the championship match.
Colton Hageman earned a 5-3 decision in the third-place match at 160 pounds. And at 170 pounds, freshman Seth Gardner earned a second-place finish after picking up a pin and a decision in his first two matches.
At heavyweight, Brent Riddle earned a major decision in the first round and a pin in the second before falling in the championship match for a second-place finish.
Each individual wrestler could take something positive away from the tournament. But even more importantly, the team walked away with their name on the top of the scoreboard. That should give them confidence as they head into a tough section meet. The Magic, seeded second, will wrestle their first match at 4 p.m. If seeds hold, Monticello would wrestle Benilde St. Margaret in the semifinals at 5:30 and Totino Grace in the finals at 7.
The Magic were knocked from the top seed by finishing with a dual meet record of just 10-12, but Zigan and his guys understand that at this point in the season, the past doesn’t matter.
“Everything up until now has been practice,” said Zigan. “Now it counts.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at email@example.com