ST. PAUL -- The No. 10-2A Perham Yellowjackets face a difficult test and a familiar foe in the top-seeded and No. 1-2A Kasson-Mantorville KoMets. The two teams will square off in the opening quarterfinal round of the state team championships beginning at 9 a.m., Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The teams met in the same round at last season's state tournament with the KoMets winning 43-10. Nine current Yellowjackets wrestled in that match, including injured Patrick Glynn, who will not see action at this year's tournament. No. 4 Cody Nylander was the only returning Yellowjacket to win a match against K-M in 2012.
Nylander is currently the only ranked wrestler in the Yellowjacket lineup with a record of 35-2.
The KoMets boast a host of ranked wrestlers, nine total, with five ranked No. 1 in their respective weight class.
"We realized how tough they were last year," Perham Head Coach Robb Moser said. "From what I've heard, they're better this year. They're solid all the way through."
Moser is flexible in terms of strategy for this match-up and may even sit a few regulars depending on the score or situation.
"Sometimes, you take your better wrestler and you beat 'em up at nine in the morning and then you expect him to perform two hours later and Friday and Saturday," said Moser. "That may be asking too much. I don't know."
Anything can happen at the state tournament and sometimes strange things occur. It is not out of the realm of possibility for Perham to upset the KoMets. K-M lost in the semifinals last year to eventual state champions Simley and also lost the third place match to Foley. Both of those teams are back at this year's tournament, as well, ranked No. 2 and No. 3.
The KoMets will feature No. 1-ranked wrestlers: 126-Nate Thomas, a senior (39-3); 132-Brady Berge, an eighth-grader (41-1); 138-Coltan Laganiere, a senior (35-4); 195-Broc Berge, a senior (41-2), and junior heavyweight Sam Stoll, who is undefeated at 42-0.
"For me it kind of comes down to we've got to perform down at that state tournament before we'll get a lot of respect for next year," Assistant Coach Phil Moenkedick said. "Last couple of trips down there we haven't performed that well. The biggest thing is you can gauge it on wins or losses or just have the mindset to go in and wrestle hard and push yourself as far as you can and whatever happens, happens."
Perham also has four entrants in the individual tournament: Josh Werner, Luke Sailer, William Parks and Cody Nylander. Nylander was on a roll toward a probably state championship last year when injury forced him to default to Tyler Petit, of Plainview/Elgin-Millville.
"Nylander, like last year, if he puts it together, he's hard to beat," said Moser. "On his A-game, there's no doubt in my mind he can win a state title. "The thing for us that was so frustrating was of all the state tournaments I've ever seen, of all the weight brackets I've ever seen, that was the one where we said, 'Look! It's right there."
"I think it's a matter of the weight that he's in and just him being so athletic at that weight," Moenkedick said. "There's not really a clear-cut standout at his weight."
"Luke's been there enough times," Moser said. "He has a knack for shining."
Sailer has appeared three times as an individual and three times on the team at state.
"He doesn't say much," Moser said. "He works hard and goes about his business."
"I'm just trying to focus on practice and make sure all my technique is good," Sailer said. "I expect our team and myself to place. I'm just going to give it my all and see what happens."
"Josh (Werner) was kind of a hard luck story last year," Moser said. "I thought he was certainly capable of being a state tournament entrant and didn't get there. He did have the toughest weight in our section. That's kind of the byproduct of cutting out some of those weights. When you cut one out of the middle and add one at the top - 32, 38 and 45 just got a lot tougher. He earned it."
This will also be the first year that new weight classes are in effect. The National Federation of State High School Associations which writes rules for wrestling adopted the current 14 weight structure following an exhaustive study by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Actual weigh-in information of 195,000 wrestlers was analyzed and the current structure was developed to include approximately 7.14 percent of all wrestlers per weight with the intent of providing an equal distribution of all wrestlers across all weights. The new structure also includes a new weight in the low 180-pound range.
"I''m really excited," Werner said. I really wanted to make it down my senior year. I was definitely not favored. Once I made it past the semis, I was really excited."
William Parks is definitely a feel good story for the Yellowjackets as he has worked hard all season and been a bull, at times, on the mat to get wins.
"We were kind of hoping someone would get through," Moser said. "We knew Parks had a chance; I was pleasantly surprised. He just kept knocking them off along the way. He was really jacked up. I've never seen him that excited. He's got a great attitude."
"It's unbelievable," Parks said. "Overall, against the competition I had, I thought I did pretty well."
Tournament and match information:
K-M and Perham wrestlers qualified for the Individual Tournament
106 #2 Gabe Shea, 9 (36-3)
120 #7 Ryan Erdmann, 12 (32-9)
126 #1 Nate Thomas, 12 (39-3)
132 #1 Brady Berge, 8 (41-1)
138 #1 Coltan Laganiere, 12 (35-4)
145 #7 Branden Schorr, 12 (32-11)
170 #5 Corben Hansen, 12 (32-10)
195 #1 Broc Berge, 12 (41-2)
285 #1 Sam Stoll, 11 (42-0)
132 Josh Werner, 12 (32-7)
138 Luke Sailer, 12 (30-8)
170 William Parks, 10 (26-16)
220 #4 Cody Nylander, 12 (35-2)
2012 meeting between the two teams:
Class AA QUARTERFINAL
Kasson-Mantorville 43, Perham 10
106 --- Brady Berge, Kasson-Mantorville pinned Elliot Werner, Perham, :59.
113 --- Ryan Erdmann, Kasson-Mantorville dec. Sam Pirrotta, Perham, 7-1.
120 --- Jesse Johnson, Kasson-Mantorville major dec. Chase Curtis, Perham, 10-0.
126 --- Brandon Lueders, Perham dec. Logan Adank, Kasson-Mantorville, 10-4.
132 --- Branden Schorr, Kasson-Mantorville major dec. Josh Werner, Perham, 9-1.
138 --- Coltan Laganiere, Kasson-Mantorville dec. Luke Sailer, Perham, 8-3.
145 --- Andy Bigelow, Kasson-Mantorville dec. Brady Sazama, Perham, 5-3.
152 --- Corben Hansen, Kasson-Mantorville tech fall Patrick Glynn, Perham, 4:22 17-2. 160 --- Cody Morris, Kasson-Mantorville dec. Ty Haverland, Perham, 7-6.
170 --- Darrin Allen, Kasson-Mantorville dec. William Parks, Perham, 11-6.
182 --- Garrett Biegler, Perham dec. Harrison Barnes, Kasson-Mantorville, 9-7.
195 --- Broc Berge, Kasson-Mantorville pinned Gio Garcia, Perham, 1:26.
220 --- Cody Nylander, Perham major dec. Bryce Seljan, Kasson-Mantorville, 11-2.
285 --- Sam Stoll, Kasson-Mantorville dec. Jesse Hein, Perham, 5-3
State Wrestling Tournament Schedule
Thursday's Team Competition
9 a.m./ 3A and 2A quarterfinals
11 a.m./ 1A quarterfinals, 3A-2A consolation semifinals
1 p.m./ 3A-2A-1A championship semifinals, 1A consolation semifinals
5 p.m./ 3A-2A-1A third-place matches, consolation finals
7 p.m./ 3A-2A-1A championship matches
Friday's Individual Competition
9 a.m./ 2A first round
11 a.m./ 3A first round
1 p.m./ 1A first round
5 p.m./ 2A championship quarterfinals
6 p.m./ 3A championship quarterfinals
7 p.m./ 1A championship quarterfinals
8 p.m./ All wrestlebacks
Saturday's Individual Competition
10 a.m./ 3A-2A-1A consolation quarterfinals
11:15 a.m./ 3A-2A-1A championship semifinals
1:15 p.m./ 3A-2A-1A consolation semifinals
5 p.m./ 1A-2A-3A third-place and fifth-place matches
7:30 p.m./ 1A-2A-3A championship matches