Perham grapplers open with stern test at STMA

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The target is squarely on the back of the Perham Yellowjacket wrestling team and it’s a position they are used to having. The Yellowjackets kick off the new season in a new tournament when they travel to St. Michael-Albertville to take part in a season-opening Invite on Friday, Dec. 2 at 10:45 a.m.

The Yellowjackets are one of eight teams competing in the tournament. The tournament features Dassel-Cokato, Forest Lake, Robbinsdale Cooper, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Cloud Tech, Waconia and the host, St. Michael-Albertville.

This is the first time in more than 20 years that the Yellowjackets will not be competing in the annual Dennis Kaatz Memorial Wolverine Invitational. It was part of an agreement which saw St. Michael-Albertville come to Perham last year. Perham head coach Robb Moser said it’s an opportunity to see some different teams in the state.

Moser said the field looks tough with a powerful field. Waconia and Forest Lake are both state ranked teams, while St. Michael-Albertville is a traditional powerhouse. It’s a new field for the Yellowjackets and will give them a look at some different competition to start the season.

The early season tournament is a strong test for where the state-ranked Yellowjackets are at in the early going. Moser said he is interested in seeing where the team’s intensity is at for the early season tournament.

“We also would like to see where our weaknesses are. We have a very busy December, so we have to be very precise about our practice plans for the rest of the month,” Moser said. “We do recognize that anything  this early will not make or break our season. This is an excellent opportunity to get our season going.”

Moser said the first few weeks of practice have been going well. He added the veteran group of wrestlers are very serious about their practice time.

“Our less experienced guys are doing well and catching on quickly,” Moser said. “There are so many things to get done in the first two weeks with soreness, holiday break, weight certifications and wrestle offs that it is really a circus in the first two weeks.”

Experience will be key for the Yellowjackets in this opening event. It’s a new tournament for everyone, but the experience of competing in several big tournaments in the past should ease nerves and concerns heading into the event.

The Yellowjackets return nine section placewinners and three state placewinners to this year’s team. Ty Moser, Dawson Kellogg, Zach Peterson, Dylan Fudge, Leighton Rach, Owen Werner, Gabe Bellefeuille, Jack Fudge and Wyatt Guck all placed in the section tournament a year ago.

The championship round of the St. Michael-Albertville Invitational is set for 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 2.

The Yellowjackets open the home portion of the season when they take on Moorhead for a dual meet on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium.