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TRF gets revenge in 8AA finals over Perham

Perham senior Charlie Schmitz gets some last minute coaching from assistants Terry Weller and Kyle Trout.

The recent history between Perham and Thief River Falls High Schools in athletic competition has been fairly one-sided.

On the football field, Perham beat the Prowlers in consecutive 8AAA championship games (2007 and 2008). They added a regular season win on the gridiron this past fall.

On the wrestling mat, Perham also had held a recent advantage. The Jackets took out TRF in the last two 8AA championship matches. Perham also won a dual match over the Prowlers on Jan. 28, 35-29.

But in this year's 8AA finals, TRF took advantage of wrestling in front of their home crowd at Englestad Arena and advanced to State with a 40-28 win over Perham on Saturday.

"The key was their intensity," Perham head coach Robb Moser said. "They were focused. Once the ball got rolling for them, it was hard to mount a comeback."

Thief River Falls started the match with a pin at 103 pounds. In their dual on Jan. 28, Perham picked up the opening match pin.

"Certainly the pin they got at 103 was a big match," Moser said. "But they outwrestled us throughout the night."

The Prowlers won the first four matches to take a 21-0 lead. Sam Warne snapped the string with a win at 130 pounds, but TRF won the next three to go up, 34-4 lead.

Perham showed some life with two straight wins by Cody Palubicki at 152 pounds, and Charlie Schmitz at 160. But a fall by Craig Williams for the Prowlers at 171 secured the team victory.

"I think they (TRF) really came together as a team," Moser said. "They did not give up the bonus points where they were supposed to and they got many extra bonus points.

"That is the style that we need to get back to," Moser added. "If our kids want to make it back to the Excel Center in the next few years, they have to do a better job of coming together and wrestling as a team."

Perham ended the match with wins by Chris Scheidecker, Ben Brill and Jesse Hein. Hein, ranked No. 9, beat No. 8 Nick Cervantes, 8-4.

No. 4 Thief River Falls, coached by New York Mills graduate Kenny Geiser, upset No. 1 seeded Fergus Falls in the semifinals, 41-30.

Perham had advanced to the finals with a dramatic win over No. 3 Staples-Motley. With the Jackets trailing 29-31, Hein picked up three second period points at heavyweight against David DeYonge. He held on to a 3-2 win, giving Perham a 32-31 victory.

The Jackets were leading 29-19 after a major decision by Schmitz at 160, but the Cardinals won three straight to take the two-point lead going into heavyweight.

In their first match of the day, Perham jumped out to a 27-0 lead over No. 7 Fosston/Bagley and went on to win, 45-25.

Perham had advanced to three straight State Tournaments, but they were replacing eight seniors from last year's line-up.

"The bar has been set pretty high in our program" Moser said. "For us, finishing as section runner-ups is a disappointment. For our younger guys, next season has already started. The good news is that we have the talent in our room to get back to the top, the big challenge will be to get the guys mentally tougher.

"However, I am very proud of these guys," Moser added. "Many people didn't give us a chance to compete this year. After the first match (a loss to Detroit Lakes) maybe people were predicting the demise of our program. These guys did regroup and made a great run. The match against Staples was awesome--it was too bad we didn't have more time to enjoy it. What these guys did was very difficult. Wrestling is an incredibly tough sport--physically and mentally. It is real easy to be a quitter in today's environment--these guys are definitely not quitters."

Milestone wins

A pair of milestones were achieved by members of the Yellowjacket wrestling program.

Warne won his 190th match with a 9-1 major decision against Holden Nelson of Thief River Falls. He is now tied with Philip Moenkedick as the school's all-time leader. Warne is now 190-44 in his career.

Moser picked up his 200th career dual meet head coaching win in the Jackets regular season finale against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at the Sauk Centre Quadrangle on Feb. 11. He finished the season with a 202-48-1 career record.

Individual sections

The Section 8AA Individual Tournament will be Feb. 26-27 at Cass Lake-Bena High School.

Friday's first round is set to begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m., the first round of wrestlebacks at 4:30 p.m., and the championship semifinals at 6:30 p.m.

On Saturday, wrestleback rounds begin at 12 p.m. with fifth and sixth place matches scheduled for 2 p.m. Championship and third place rounds will start at 4 p.m., with True Second matches to follow.

Warne is the only returning Section champ for the Jackets. He won the 125-pound title last year and finished fourth at State. He's now ranked No. 3 at 125 pounds and is a four-time State entrant.

Schmitz, currently ranked No. 8 at 152, was the 152-pound runner-up last year at Sections. He went 2-2 in St. Paul last year, and is a three-time State participant.

Other returning Section place winners for the Jackets include: Luke Sailer (4th, 103), Ben Brill (5th, 189) and Jesse Hein (3rd, Hwt.).

"Who knows what to expect," Moser said. "I think the section has very few weak weights. It should be fun. There are always a couple of upsets."