Can the Scott West wrestling team make a impact in a tougher Section 2AA field this winter?
The Panthers have lost in the section team finals two of last three years and in the semifinals in 2020, after having made the Class 2A state field 15 times in the previous 19 seasons.
Section 2AA got stronger this winter with the addition of New Prague. The Minnesota State High School League reclassified sections for all sports last spring and New Prague dropped down a class and into the Panthers’ section.
New Prague has been a strong program for the last five seasons, finishing second in Section 2AAA to Shakopee the last three years. The Sabers have won the last three Class 3A state team titles.
Scott West, 21-5 in duals last year, will get its first crack at New Prague this season when the two teams meet in a Wright County Conference dual Dec. 11 in Belle Plaine.
Meanwhile, the Guillotine released its first Class 2A team and individual rankings Nov. 25 and Scott West had two ranked wrestlers — sophomore Matt Randolph and senior Zach Tracy.
Randolph, last year’s state runner-up at 106 pounds with a 30-2 overall record, opened ranked No. 2 at 126 pounds. Tracy is No. 2 at 132.
New Prague and Watertown-Mayer are the only two Section 2AA teams ranked in the first team poll at No. 10 and 11, respectively. Scott West lost 37-24 to Watertown-Mayer Dec. 3 after splitting a two matches in a triangular at Becker the day before to open the season.
The Panthers fell 47-15 to the host Bulldogs, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, while beating St. Francis 38-31.
In total, Section 2AA has 21 individual ranked wrestlers with New Prague leading the way with five, followed by Watertown-Mayer with four. Mound Westonka has three, while Tri-City United Mankato West, Glencoe-Silver Lake and Scott West all have two and St. Peter and Delano each have one.
Section 2AA is one of the deepest sections in the state outside of Section 6, which has four teams ranked in the top 12.
In the loss to Watertown-Mayer, the Panthers won six matches and did not have Tracy in the lineup. Sophomore Caleb Tracy earned a 9-3 decision at 112 pounds, while Randolph won by fall at 132.
Junior Landon Church also had a fall at 145 for Scott West, while sophomore Leo Siekmann won 7-0 at 160. Ninth-grader Tristan Holbrook and sophomore Carson Schoenbauer earned 3-0 and 5-2 decisions at 182 and heavyweight, respectively.
Other wrestlers expected to make an impact for Scott West this winter include seniors Ashton Holbrook and Preston Kes, juniors Hunter Lilleskov, Brian Dvorak and Luke Meriweather, sophomore Ethan Dvorak, ninth-graders Dylan Thomas and Tristan Holbrook, eighth-grader Isaac Williams and Mason Breeggemann and seventh-graders Bennet Balk and Austin Symanitz.
In beating St. Francis, Scott West had four wins by pin (Randolph, Siekmann, Thomas, and Schoenbauer). Church won by technical fall, while Tristan Holbrook won by decision, and Lilleskov won by forfeit.
Caleb Tracy won by fall in the loss to Becker, while Randolph, Church and Thomas each had wins by decision.
The Panthers will compete in the annual Christmas Tourney Dec. 17-18 at the Rochester Civic Center. The tourney features many of the state’s top wrestlers from all three classes.
Scott West will get Tri-City United, last year’s Section 2AA champion, in a dual at home Jan. 14.
The Section 2AA team tourney is set for Feb. 17 with the first two rounds, while semifinals and title match are Feb. 19 at Watertown-Mayer. The section individual tourney is Feb. 25-26 in Delano.
This year’s Class 2A state tourney is March 3-5 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The team tourney is the first day, followed by individual action the next two days.