With only five wrestlers with winning records - among those with double-digit victories - Minnetonka, the defending Section 6AAA champion were the underdogs to repeat Feb. 17 at Mound-Westonka High School.
Regular season duals showed Minnetonka losing to the three higher-seeded teams.
But this was the post-season, and it belonged to the Skippers once again.
Minnetonka received five pins and a forfeit win, defeating second seed Mound-Westonka 43-26 in the championship.
"Our guys, we really put a lot on emphasis on dual sections. We went after it way more than the other opponents," Minnetonka junior captain Boyd Mumbuwa said.
A 24-0 start, falls from Andrew Sanders, Zach Wallace, Spencer Schroeder, and Mumbuwa, seemed insurmountable for a Minnetonka squad destined to score 12 points at the end of the match.
Mumbuwa's win came over Ethan DeVore, a transfer from Eden Prairie, a wrestler that had given the Skipper trouble in the past. Not this time. The match lasted 90 seconds.
"I just went out and wrestled. Didn't think about last time or who the other wrestler was. I just went out there and did what I needed to do," Mumbuwa said.
Junior captain Caleb Schumacher's 12-1 win at 138 pounds coupled with the Skippers' ability to limit big points from Mound-Westonka's top wrestlers was a recipe for a second consecutive section championship.
"It was pretty simple. If you can get a pin, go get that pin. If you can't, do what you can to not give one up," Mumbuwa said of the Skippers' strategy.
Freshman Sean Agan won a 12-5 decision at 170 pounds with Nathaniel Hayden scoring a pin in 77 seconds for the championship clincher for Minnetonka.
"It was a mentality from the whole team that we were going to go out there and fight and we were going to out there and win," Schumacher said.
Mumbuwa, a 35-match winner this season, was one of five Skippers returning from the 2016 section championship line-up.
Returning to the Xcel Energy Center, as a team, to wrestle in the state tournament, it doesn't matter who Minnetonka draws. It's another wonderful experience.
"It's a very long three days," said Mumbuwa of being a team and individual qualifier as a sophomore. "Being in the moment down there, it's an experience is all I can say."
Minnetonka beat Chaska/Chanhassen in the semifinals, 43-29, a rematch of the 2016 finals.
A dual about 50-50 matches, it was the Skippers who won most of them, especially early in the match.
First-period pins from Wallace and Bixler were added points from the regular season meeting. By the time Mumbuwa earned a fall and Schumacher outscored Chaska/Chanhassen senior Andrew Brkovich 12-9, the deficit was 25-4.
"Yeah, my middle matches were big for our team, but it took everyone to win. We had Boyd coming through with pins. Other guys stepping up and winning big matches," Schumacher said.
The Storm Hawks did make it interesting, pins from Matt Boyum, Anders Severtson and Jon Laurent as well as a 17-6 major decision from Collin Olveson drew the top seed within 31-26.
Minnetonka got a first-period pin from Sam Durkee, his third win of the season, at 195 pounds with heavyweight James Johnson scoring a pin.
A 12-3 major decision from PJ Velazquez were the lone points over the first six matches for Chaska/Chanhassen.
The Class 3A State Wrestling Tournament is Thursday, March 2, in St. Paul.
The focus now shifts to the Section 6AAA Individual Tournament at Hopkins High School on Friday, Feb. 24 (5 p.m. start) and Saturday, Feb. 25 (11 a.m. start).
Chaska/Chanhassen qualified seven wrestlers a season ago. That number will be tough to beat although the Storm Hawks will have a handful among top seeds.
Olevson (32-5) and Boyum (23-5) figure to be No. 1 seeds at 138 and 160 pounds.
Velazquez enters the section tournament with 20 wins and a Ninth Grade State League title, but may find Mumbuwa and Eden Prairie's Jahsa Rankins in his bracket.
Other state hopefuls are Severtson (19-13) and Brkovich (19-19), both seniors.
The top two wrestlers at each of the 14 weight classes advance to state March 3-4.
Chaska/Chanhassen started the section tournament with a 47-31 win over Minneapolis Washburn.
Pins from Velazquez and Adam Myhre combined with forfeits to Sam Wolff and Olevson and a 15-0 technical fall from Brkovich gave the Storm Hawks a 29-10 lead.
Boyum and Severtson also recorded pins with heavyweight Ethan Jackman adding a fall at the 2:46 mark of the second period for Chaska/Chanhassen.