Thursday wasn’t the end for Mark Jensen. But it might have been the beginning of the end or maybe the middle of the end for a wrestling coach who has improved the lives of countless numbers of young people.
Jensen is the head coach at Pierz, which finished as the Class 1A team state runner-up Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. The Pioneers defeated Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 44-19 in the quarterfinals and West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 35-21 in the semifinals before falling to Zumbrota-Mazeppa 35-16 in the championship round.
As always, Jensen is one of the best-dressed coaches at the state tourney. Thursday he wore black slacks, gray sport coat, white shirt and maroon tie. The day was his final one coaching the Pierz team, but nine Pioneers will compete Friday and Saturday in the individual portion of the tournament. So the end of the end will come Saturday.
“I thought the kids wrestled well throughout the tournament and I’m proud of them,” he said.
Thursday’s matches gave Jensen a career record of 379-112-2 over 20 years at Pierz. He coached the Pioneers from 1990 to 2006 before stepping down and returned as head coach in 2013.
“This is it for me but I’ve said that before, so who knows?,” he said, joking (I think).
Jensen’s teams won small-school team state championships in 2004 and 2005 and he took nine other teams to state. One of the program’s top wrestlers was Clint Poster, a six-time letterwinner and two-time state champion who went on to wrestle at St. Cloud State. Poster, now a Pierz assistant coach, said the following about Jensen:
“He’s a great role model. I had him in seventh grade and the things he taught me then have really stuck with me, things you can use in your everyday life; how to be a good person, a respectful person, a hard worker. He’s still doing that today. He’s well-respected and he knows his wrestling, too.”
Having stepped away from the job once before, Jensen knows what will change as well as what he will miss.
“I’ll miss the camaraderie of coaching kids, guiding them,” he said. “Wrestling is one of the toughest sports there is because of the sacrifice you give. I’ll miss the peer support that I’ve had from the community and the school. It’s just been phenomenal.
“It’s time for me to hand it over to somebody new. It’s a young man’s game and that’s where I’m at in my life.” Class 1A
Zumbrota-Mazeppa advanced to the final against Pierz by beating Kenyon-Wanamingo 31-23 and Frazee 32-25.Class 2A
Kasson-Mantorville rolled to rolled to its second consecutive state title with a 45-18 victory over Simley in the championship match. The Komets earlier defeated Worthington 64-3 and Foley 54-7.Class 3A
Apple Valley captured its 12th consecutive state title, defeating Anoka 30-25 in the final. The Eagles beat Minnetonka 73-3 in the first round and Hastings 52-12 in the semifinals. Coming Up
The individual portion of the tournament begins Friday morning in all three classes. Championship quarterfinals will be contested Friday afternoon, with consolation rounds, semifinals and championship matches held on Saturday.Class 3A
Anoka 48, Stillwater 13
St. Michael-Albertville 34, Willmar 27
Hastings 36, Owatonna 29
Apple Valley 73, Minnetonka 3Semifinals
Anoka 38, St. Michael-Albertville 26
Apple Valley 52, Hastings 12Fifth Place
Owatonna 30, Willmar 29Third Place
St. Michael-Albertville 36, Hastings 33Championship
Apple Valley 30, Anoka 24Class 2A
Simley 47, Grand Rapids 16
Scott West 50, Totino-Grace 11
Foley 32, Perham 23
Kasson-Mantorville 64, Worthington 3Semifinals
Simley 43, Scott West 22
Kasson-Mantorville 54, Foley 7Fifth Place
Perham 60, Grand Rapids 3Third Place
Scott West 33, Foley 24Championship
Kasson-Mantorville 45, Simley 18 Class 1A
Pierz 44, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 19
West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 30, Pipestone 29
Frazee 33, Sibley East 25
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 31, Kenyon-Wanamingo 23Semifinals
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 32, Frazee 25
Pierz 35, West Central 21Fifth Place
Kenyon-Wanamingo 37, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg 19 Third Place
Frazee 40, West Central/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville 18Championship
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 35, Pierz 16
BY THE NUMBERS
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