Perham sends three into the semifinals

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Owen Werner, Ty Moser and Zach Peterson’s hopes for a Class AA Individual Championship are still alive after quarterfinal round wins at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on March 2.

“It’s very cool for those kids. The great thing about winning now is that you have three guys that are placing,” Perham head coach Robb Moser said. “In our room we have one big board with all the state placewinners, rather than talk about career wins, I think, that’s a better way to leave your mark. For those guys there, that’s a nice feather in their cap, now they can focus on how high along that board they want to be.”

The Yellowjackets have built on a strong foundation the past few years at state. Last year, they had one wrestler into the semifinals in Dawson Kellogg, who finished in fourth place. This year, the Yellowjackets have three.

“It’s good. We always want to keep building. Last year, we had one in the semifinals and he got fourth,” Moser said. “We are trying to take our game to the next level and this is a good showcase for that.”

Owen Werner started things off with a strong performance against Watertown-Mayer’s Austin Gabbert. The 10th grader is making his first individual appearance and he looked like a veteran on the mat against Gabbert. The key for Werner was not allowing an escape point for Gabbert in the second period when he kept him down for the period. That gave Werner some momentum heading into the third. Werner received an escape point to start the third and then took control with a takedown.

“My plan was not to let him score in the first period. In the second period, I knew I could ride him out on top,” Werner said. “As soon as I got the escape, I felt confident.”

Werner thought the second period was very important to his success in the match. He said he had to switch up his starts against Gabbert.

“It feels pretty good and now I don’t have to worry about if I will place,” Werner said. “It’s what I’ll place. It has been a great experience so far. The days have been going by fast and it has been fun.”

Werner will take on Maxwell Peterson, the No. 1 seed, in Saturday’s semifinal.

Moser said it was a shot at redemption after losing in the quarterfinals last year. He came back to finish third, but he wanted to get to that semifinal spot. He did that with a strong victory when he defeated Worthington’s Mason Byrne 11-2.

“We just wanted to keep pushing it (the pace),” Moser said. “Our whole motto this year has been to score points and that doesn’t change in the state tournament either.”

Moser will square off with Foley’s Saylor Schmidt in a rematch from the team tournament. Moser defeated Schmidt 3-1, securing the Perham victory. It was the lone loss so far for Schmidt.

“It’s a big match up, but the game plan doesn’t change,” Moser said. “I want to keep pushing the pace and try to score points.”

Peterson pushed the issue when he squared off with Albany’s Gabe Zierden. Peterson earned a 12-5 decision. Peterson said it felt good after the match.

“All that hard work of putting in that extra time in the mornings and after practice, it feels really good to make the state podium and too look forward to tomorrow,” Peterson said.

He said his game plan was simple and it was to not change the way he wrestled. He wanted to work hard for six minutes and see what the outcome would be and for Peterson it was another successful one. Zierden entered the contest undefeated, another sign of the depth of the tournament at 182. Peterson said his teammates push each other in the practice room and that has helped them in this tournament.

“I have great practice partners like Kenny Moenkedick, Mac Stoll, Ty Moser and Dawson Kellogg. They are always pushing me and I’m pushing them,” Peterson said. “We are able to be in great shape when we come into tournaments like this. I firmly believe us three guys are in the best shape out of anybody in this tournament, so we are able to push the pace and make sure that in the third period we are ready to wrestle.”

Peterson will wrestle against Kasson-Mantorville’s Patrick Kennedy in the semifinals. Kennedy is undefeated and the No. 1 seed in the loaded field.

Leighton Rach was defeated in his quarterfinal round match when he was pinned by Lazaro Diaz of South St. Paul. However, Rach kept his tournament alive when he earned a wrestle back victory over Grand Rapids’ Jake Holm, 4-2. He will wrestle at 9 a.m. in the consolation quarterfinals.

Perham’s Dawson Kellogg suffered a stunning defeat in the quarterfinals. The No. 1 ranked wrestler was caught by Marshall’s Wyatt Martin. Martin was able to get him down and earned the pin at the 3:55 mark. Kellogg’s tournament came to an end when he was defeated by Ethan Shea of Kasson-Mantorville in the wrestlebacks.

Matthew Bush’s tournament came to an end at 152 when he was defeated by Hutchinson’s Jordan Stenzel in the wrestlebacks by a 12-0 major decision.

Werner, Peterson and Moser will wrestle in the Class AA semifinals at 10:15 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center on March 3.