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Class 1A Wrestling: Pierz plans to bring 'A' game to quarterfinals

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg stands in the way of a rematch the Pierz Pioneers would like to have happen. But the Pioneers aren't overlooking the eighth-ranked and unseeded Fighting Saints, Pierz's opponent at 11 a.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals o...

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Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg stands in the way of a rematch the Pierz Pioneers would like to have happen.

But the Pioneers aren't overlooking the eighth-ranked and unseeded Fighting Saints, Pierz's opponent at 11 a.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. In last year's state quarterfinals, KMS (15-3) lost to the Pioneers 44-22.

"We respect them, and I'm sure they respect us," Pierz coach Mark Jensen said of KMS. "We need to bring our 'A' game to compete."

The rematch the top-ranked and second-seeded Pioneers (32-1) would like is against the third-ranked and third-seeded West Central Knights, who administered the Pioneers' only dual meet setback this season-36-24 Jan. 24.

"When you get to the semifinals of the state tournament you don't get to choose who it is," Jensen said. "Obviously there are quality teams. We just have to be ready to go."

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During the regular season, Pierz beat then top-ranked Frazee 36-22, while Frazee beat West Central 42-19. Those teams enter the state tournament ranked 1-2-3.

"We wrestled as well as we could have wrestled the night that we wrestled Frazee," Jensen said. "Then we went to a tournament that weekend and got dinged up a little bit. We had four guys out of the lineup when we wrestled West Central. West Central really wrestled well against us."

KMS is making its fourth state tournament appearance-its second straight. The Fighting Saints were the 1A champion in 2009 and went to state in 2013 and 2016. Pierz is making its seventh straight and its 14th overall trip to state. The Pioneers won state titles in 2004 and 2005.

"This field of teams in the state tournament is about as equal a field as I've ever seen," Jensen said. "There is no outstanding No. 1 team. In years past, nobody was going to beat Jackson County, nobody was going to beat Frazee in a certain year, nobody was going to beat us one year. It's about as even a field as I've seen.

"To win the state tournament you've got to be good and you've got to be lucky."

In Thursday's quarterfinals, West Central will take on Pipestone which lost to the Knights 33-29 Jan. 20.

Pipestone is making its state tournament debut. West Central is making its third consecutive appearance. Last season, West Central finished sixth at state.

Thursday's other quarterfinal matchups:

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โ€ข Sibley East vs. Frazee --- Sibley East has won seven straight duals since losing to 2A state entrant Scott West. Last season, Sibley East lost to Frazee in the 1A quarterfinals. Frazee, a state tournament entrant for the 24th time, was the 1A runner-up last season.

โ€ข Kenyon-Wanamingo vs. Zumbrota-Mazeppa --- Kenyon-Wanamingo is the defending 1A champion and is 7-2 in its past nine duals, including winning the past five. Zumbrota-Mazeppa narrowly lost 29-28 to K-W Dec. 15. Zumbrota-Mazeppa was the 1A runner-up in 2015.

Class 1A 2016 recap

Top-seeded Kenyon-Wanamingo won just six of the dual's 14 matches, but the Knights earned enough bonus points to capture their first team championship with a 26-24 victory over Frazee.

In the third-place meet, Pierz recorded a 39-16 victory over Minneota. Caledonia ended its season with a 36-21 victory over West Central Area in the consolation final.

Class 1A state tournament

Thursday, March 2

Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul

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Quarterfinals

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (15-3) vs. No. 2 Pierz (32-1), 11 a.m.

Pipestone Area (28-3) vs. No. 3 West Central Area/Ashby/Evansville (24-1), 11 a.m.

Sibley East (26-7) vs. No. 1 Frazee (16-5), 11 a.m.

No. 5 Kenyon-Wanamingo (25-9) vs. No. 4 Zumbrota-Mazeppa (23-6), 11 a.m.

Championship semifinals, 1 p.m.

Consolation semifinals, 1 p.m.

Consolation final, 5 p.m.

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Third place, 5 p.m.

Championship, 7 p.m.

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