Wrestling: Yellowjackets headed for sixth state appearance since 2004
THIEF RIVER FALLS -- For the sixth time since 2004, the Perham Yellowjackets wrestling team is heading to the State AA wrestling tournament after a sweep of the Section 8AA tournament in Thief River Falls.
On paper, none of the scores appeared close. Perham defeated: Staples-Motley in the quarterfinals 48-19; Fergus Falls 41-19 in the semifinals and took the championship match 40-19.
"It was not as easy as it looked in the box score," Head Coach Robb Moser said. "The boys did wrestle very well though. Overall, I thought our matches with Fergus Falls and Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus (PLPRB) were the two best matches of the season for us--very consistent, very under control."
Six Perham wrestlers went undefeated at the section championship, four of who represented Perham at the state meet last season in the individual portion, Brandon Lueders, Cody Nylander, Luke Sailer and Jesse Hein.
"The guys that you normally count on to do very well did--Lueders, Werner, Sailer, Haverland, Nylander, and Hein," Moser said.
Hein put a stamp on the ticket to St. Paul with the last match of the championship round. Hein pinned PLPRB's Nick Keramp in just 13 seconds. The match prior, Nylander took out Kurt Kent in a mere 41 seconds.
While the heavies and the expected did their jobs, contributions came from the entire team in three team matches that were all decided by at least a 21-point differential. The feat was also accomplished with three early season starters missing.
"This truly was a team effort," Moser said. "If you would have told us at the beginning of the year that we could win sections with three projected starters out, Tyler Fudge, Payton Jordahl, and Andrew Moberg, I would have been a bit unsure. These guys have really come around in the last month."
In their last nine duals, Perham is 8-1. Their only loss coming to undefeated No.2-Class A Kimball Area 42-30 in the finals of the Don Dravis Duals.
"We saw some nice contributions from Collin Nietzke and Brady Sazama," said Moser. "Chase Curtis had a huge pin for us against PLPRB that really set the tempo. Gio Garcia had two very big wins for us as well."
With the help of three forfeits and pins by Sam Pirrotta, Brandon Lueders and Luke Sailer, the Yellowjackets had plenty of points early in the opening quarterfinal victory over Staples-Motley.
Up 30-6 halfway through the match, Perham cruised to the 48-19 victory.
A streaky Fergus Falls squad swept the first three matches to a 10-0 lead in the semifinals. A Lueders technical fall shutout cut the lead in half leading a five-match sweep by Perham, including a 13-5 Josh Werner major decision and a 12-0 major from Sailer.
A forfeit to Ty Haverland had Perham up 25-10 with six matches remaining.
Fergus won three in a row again to narrow the lead to 25-19, but a major decision from Garcia and pins at 1:47 by Nylander and 1:20 by Hein put the Otters away 41-19.
Having the plausibility of 12 points from Nylander and Hein at the end of any match has been a luxury the Yellowjackets have enjoyed all season and the duo, along with Garcia at 195 pounds, sealed the finals.
PLPRB and Perham tied at six points after three matches, two PLPRB decisions to Chase Curtis' pin of Nate Adkins at 3:54.
Perham would not trail the remainder of the match but PLPRB ended up with the same fate as Fergus Falls, down 25-19 with Garcia, Nylander and Hein coming up.
Garcia won an 8-2 decision over Jared Adkins and Nylander and Hein both needed less than 42 seconds to send the Jackets to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to kick off the month of March.
Perham (21-5) will face the No. 4-seeded Kasson-Mantorville KoMets (24-5) in the first round of the state tournament at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 1.
A first-round victory will set up a likely match-up with top-ranked and No. 1-seeded Simley (25-3).
Simley won last year's AA state team title. Kasson-Mantorville finished third after a loss to Scott West in the semifinals.
In Perham's past five team visits to the state tournament, the Yellowjackets have come away runners-up twice in 2007 and 2008.
Foley knocked Perham out in the first round in 2009.
Before they make that trip to St. Paul, the individual portion of the section meet will take place in Fergus Falls Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25.
Perham 40, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus 19
106: Anthony Phillipson (PL) decision Elliot Werner (PER) 10-6
113: Chase Curtis (PER) fall Nate Adkins (PL) 3:54
120: Triston Rubner (PL) decision Sam Pirrotta (PER) 5-0
126: Brandon Lueders (PER) fall Nick Gravdahl (PL) 3:08
132: Josh Werner (PER) decision Jace Loge (PL) 11-5
138: Luke Sailer (PER) decision Dry Loge (PL) 4-3
145: Ty Haverland (PER) major decision Derek Sonenstahl (PL) 11-2
152: Brady Sazama (PER) decision Trevos Johnson (PL) 10-5
160: Darian Rubner (PL) fall Patrick Glynn (PER) 1:15
170: Peter Harrison (PL) major decision William Parks (PER) 10-1
182: Justin Mackenthun (PL) decision Garrett Biegler (PER) 7-5
195: Gio Garcia (PER) decision Jared Adkins (PL) 8-2
220: Cody Nylander (PER) fall Kurt Kent (PL) :41
Hwt: Jesse Hein (PER) fall Nick Keramp (PL) :13