KOMETS DOMINATE AT STATE
With the disappointment of falling short of capturing the team title long behind them, the Kasson-Mantorville wrestling team was on a mission heading into the Minnesota State Individual Tournament. The previous weekend, the KoMets had sent nine wrestlers to St. Paul in the Section 1AA Tournament and many were poised to continue their success in a field loaded with some of the best wrestlers in the state.
In front of a crowd that packed the Xcel Energy Center with plenty of KoMet blue throughout the weekend, K-M would put forth another dominating performance with three individual state titles and seven place-winners to put an exclamation point on their season.
“We always try to use our current situation as motivation,” K-M head coach Jamie Heidt explained. “For a lot of us, it was a tough loss, but we’ve done a lot of preparation for this moment. We say it a lot, but we take things one event at a time and we were able to use that focus up at the state tournament.”
Leading the way for the KoMets’ performance was 182-pounder Patrick Kennedy. The junior made the last- second decision to wrestle up from the 170 pounds he had wrestled at all season and was poised to defend his crown from a year ago. What took place was a dominating performance which saw Kennedy win his first two matches by pinfall in a total just over two minutes.
In the semifinals, Kennedy earned a 16-5 decision over Christian Kurth of Hutchinson before earning a first-period fall over Perham’s Zachary Peterson to win his third state championship.
“This might be the best Patrick Kennedy we’ve ever seen,” Heidt said of the junior’s performance. “He just kept his foot on the gas all weekend long and was able to jump up again and knock off some top competition at state.”
Also defending a state title was 160-pounder Bennett Berge. The freshman would win his first two matches on Friday with a 13-7 decision over Scott West’s Jace Demmers and a 15-0 technical fall over Orono’s Nick Simafranca. In the semifinals, Berge would meet up with Simley’s Jacob Hageman and emerge with a 3-2 decision to set up a championship match with Waconia’s Cade Mueller.
The battle between the top two seeds in the bracket was an intense one as the two wrestlers headed deep into the third period tied at 1. With time winding down, Berge would shoot and score a late takedown that would help give him his second state title with a 3-2 decision.
“Bennett has made some tremendous improvement over the past couple of years,” Heidt said of Berge. “It all started at the  Christmas Tournament where he kind of made an improvement. He’s made a lot of adjustments and added things to his arsenal and even this year, after he lost to Mueller at the Swalla Duals, he took that and just focused on making himself better.”
The third state champion would come from a wrestler who didn’t join the team until mid-season, but completed the rise of 145-pounder Carlos Ruffo. The junior hasn’t taken long to first in with the standard of KoMet Dominance with a major decision over North Branch’s Austin Sonnek and Fairmont-Martin County West’s Payton Anderson to get to the semifinals.
From there, Ruffo too down the top-seeded Tanner Kroells of Detroit Lakes with a 11-9 decision and defeat Kellen Schauer of Grand Rapids with
a 3-1 decision to cap off his fast rise with his first state championship.
“Carlos has probably had one of the fastest improvements that we’ve seen here at K-M,” Heidt said of Ruffo, who didn’t join the team until after the Christmas break. “There was a little bit of an adjustment period getting into our program and getting him in shape, but he really took off after that. We kind of thought he was going to be a sleeper coming in and he got a couple big wins and took the title home.”
The rest of the tournament would see plenty of success for the KoMets as Grant Parish (195 pounds) and Garsen Schorr (220 pounds) both finished in second place of their brackets while Logan Vaughan (113 pounds) and Robby Horsman (120 pounds) came home with fourth-place finishes. With the addition of qualifiers Matthew Harfmann and Giovanni Ruffo, the KoMets registered their highest point total at state in team history.
“I felt the entire team went up there and competed,” Heidt said. “For guys like Grant and Garsen to push into that championship match was huge and Logan and Robby
did a great job of rebounding to take home fourth place in their bracket. I say it every year, but the competition at state keeps getting better and better and our team did a great job of representing our program.”