The Prior Lake wrestling team had some strong wins in its final dual of the regular season Feb. 8.
But in the end, the No. 9-ranked Lakers couldn't match the strength of No. 2 Apple Valley, falling 42-24 on the road in South Suburban Conference action.
The Lakers finished with a 7-2 SSC record (13-10 overall) and will now turn its attention to the Section 2AAA team tournament. It's likely that Prior Lake will get another crack at Apple Valley.
Top-ranked Shakopee will be the No. 1 seed when brackets are released, followed by Apple Valley, the Lakers and No. 12 New Prague. Eastview looks to get the No. 5 seed, followed by Lakeville South.
The first round of the section team tourney is Feb. 14 between the bottom four seeds, which will likely be Lakeville North, Burnsville, Rosemount and Bloomington Jefferson, respectively. The quarterfinals are Feb. 16 starting at 4 p.m., followed by the semifinals and the title match. The final three rounds are at Lakeville North.
The Lakers' likely quarterfinal opponent will be Lakeville South.
Prior Lake won the Section 2AAA title five straight years from 2011 to 2015, but has lost in the semifinals the last two seasons, including to Apple Valley last winter and to Shakopee the year before.
Apple Valley, winners of the last 12 Class 3A state titles, has qualified for state 35 straight years. Shakopee beat Apple Valley 32-30 in the SSC season back on Jan. 25 to get the No. 1 seed.
The Sabers also beat Apple Valley last year in conference action to get the No. 1 seed, only to see the Eagles win the section title match.
In Prior Lake's loss to Apple Valley Feb. 8, the Lakers were down 12-0 after 120 pounds.
Senior Zach Smith earned a 7-2 decision for Prior Lake at 126, knocking off Payton McLagan, who is ranked No. 6 at that weight. Sebas Swiggum and Lakers' senior Theo Smith, ranked No. 3 and 4, respectively at 132 pounds, had a tough battle at that weight with Swiggum winning 3-2.
Senior Curtis LeMair, ranked No. 2 at 145, earned a win by fall for Prior Lake at 138 and sophomore Vincent Mosher followed with a 2-0 win at 145. The Lakers were down 15-12 heading into 152 pounds, but lost the next two matches by fall.
Senior Kenny O'Neil, ranked No. 3 at 170, won by forfeit at that weight for the Lakers. But Apple Valley won the next weights to secure the match, including a pin at 182.
Junior Hunter Koenig, ranked No. 6 at 220, won by forfeit at the weight for Prior Lake's final win.