Johnson breaks through for Christmas Tourney Championship
Back at the beginning of the winter season, Kasson-Mantorville Jamie Heidt was asked if there was one wrestler that stood out in his mind that stood out in his mind. The KoMets have been loaded with talent over the years and along with the usual suspects, there always seems to be one wrestler that comes into his own and surges to the front of the pack.
After some thought, Heidt gave the name of Jared Johnson. The senior had seen plenty of success coming into the season with a third-place and fourth-place finish at the state tournament in his resume, but Heidt believed that this would be the year that Johnson would break through and win that state championship.
At last week’s Minnesota Christmas Tournament, Johnson took that first step by winning the 113-pound championship in a field that will be as loaded as the one he’ll have to navigate in March to capture that state title. His performance makes Heidt believe that the victory will be the tip of the iceberg in Johnson’s 2017-18 season.
“Obviously it’s an extremely competitive tournament that he won,” Heidt said. “It’s one of those things that he’s placed in all these major tournaments and now he has that championship under his belt.”
Johnson’s performance started with a 16-0 technical fall over Kody Klonecki (Holmen, Wis.) in the first round and then a fall over St. Michael-Albertville’s Cole Becker in the second round. After a dominating Friday performance, Johnson earned a 3-0 decision over Javon Taschuk (Stillwater) before handing Albert Lea’s Nic Cantu his first loss of the season with a 7-0 decision in the semi-finals.
Johnson capped off his tournament run against Forest Lake’s Derrick Cardinal in the finals and earned a thrilling 7-5 decision in sudden death to take home the title.
“I think this is only going to catapult him through the rest of the season,” Heidt said of Johnson’s performance. “He continues to work hard and keep that pedal down and he’s going to be where he wants to be at the end of the year.”
The rest of the performance for K-M was uneven against one of the top fields they’ll see all season. In addition to all three defending state champions (Class AAA Apple Valley, Class A Zumbrota-Mazeppa) in attendance, there were several other top programs from Minnesota and Wisconsin taking part in the tournament.
As a result, K-M would finish 10th in the 30-team field. While Heidt would say that his team had a solid performance, he still agreed that his team had work to do between now and the end of the season.
“You can talk to any coach there and they’ll tell you that this tournament exposes you and your team,” Heidt said. “If you want to see what you can work on, it’s right there over and over again. It’s a really easy measuring stick for our team and we need to be put in those situations so at the end of the year, we are ready for it.”
The KoMets had five place-winners in all for the tournament and Robby Horsman was the highest finisher outside of Johnson, placing fourth in the 120-pound bracket. Jim Paulson finished sixth in the 195-pound bracket while Dalton Andrist (170 pounds) and Logan Vaughan (106-pounds) each finished in seventh-place of their brackets.
“There’s definitely some positives there,” Heidt said. “We had a lot of tough matches, but we have to get to the point where we’re able to execute at critical times to win those matches. We’re not quite at that point yet. The positive is that we’re close, but we have some work to do.”
The KoMets will have a HVL dual prior to the holiday break as they’ll travel to Triton on Thursday night. They will return to action after the new year when they take part in the Cheeshead Invitational in Kaukauna, Wisconsin on January 5-6.