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PHS Wrestling: Perham No. 2 seed in 8AA Tournament

John George

It's tournament time again. And for the first time since 2006, the Yellowjacket wrestlers are not the No. 1 seed for their section playoffs.

And they seem O.K. with that.

Perham will enter the Section 8AA Tournament as the No. 2 seed. All four rounds of the tournament will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Ralph Englestad Arena (REA) in Thief River Falls.

"Well, it doesn't really matter what seed we are," said senior Sam Warne. "You still have to go out and wrestle the team in front of you. And you can't overlook anyone."

In the previous three season's, Perham entered section playoffs as the clear favorite to advance to State. In this year's Section 8AA Tournament, there is no clear favorite. If you ask area fans, any of the top-five teams could advance to State.

"It's a real balanced section," Perham head coach Robb Moser said. "Any team could win it."

Fergus Falls earned the No. 1 seed in the section, with Perham taking the No. 2 slot, followed by Staples-Motley, Thief River Falls and Detroit Lakes. Perham and Thief River Falls have met in the last two section championship matches, with the Jackets winning both titles.

Perham will face the winner between No. 7 Fosston and No. 10 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis at 2 p.m. at REA. A win there would set them up with a potential match against No. 3 Staples-Motley at 4 p.m.

"We wanted to be in the lower half of the bracket," Moser said. "We wanted to go through Staples-Motley in the semifinal round."

S-M is one of the few teams in the section Perham hasn't faced this year. The Jackets lost to Fergus Falls last week by just one point, 32-31. They beat TRF on Jan. 28, 35-29, and they lost to Detroit Lakes in the season opener on Dec. 3, 37-28.

Perham was scheduled to participate in the S-M Tournament on Jan. 23, but that event was canceled due to weather. Moser said efforts to reschedule a dual with S-M after that cancelation failed.

"It would have been nice to wrestle them," Warne said. "That was a bummer when they canceled that."

That cancelation, along with the cancelation of the Paynesville Tournament on Feb. 6, has cost Warne a chance at climbing the school's all-time win's list. He currently sits at No. 2 on the list with a record of 185-43. Perham's all-time wins leader, Philip Moenkedick, graduated in 2007 with a career record of 190-38. Warne should be able to pass Moenkedick during the 8AA Individual Tournament, where he will be the favorite at 125 pounds.

"It's like we've had two different teams this year," Warne said. "We've had some ups and downs. We can look great one night, and barely survive another."

Warne added that the team's final match, against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa last Thursday, showed him that the team is ready.

"I thought we wrestled real well against them," Warne said. "I think that showed me that we have the right team ready for sections.

Perham knows that beating S-M in the semifinals will not insure another trip to State. They would still potentially have to face Fergus Falls in the finals.

"We're confident," Warne added. "But we can't overlook anyone. We can only worry about one match at a time."