The Perham wrestling team talked about building upon its foundation and using the state tournament as a showcase. The Yellowjackets showcased their growth with three wrestlers reaching the podium in the Class AA Championships.
Owen Werner, Zach Peterson and Ty Moser captured third place honors in dominant fashion in their final matches of the season. Werner captured a fall win at 106, while Peterson earned a pin at 182 and Moser followed with a pin at 195.
Last year, the Yellowjackets had a pair of wrestlers reach the podium and this year, they sent three of them to the podium, capturing three third place medals. It’s the first state tournament medal for Werner and Peterson, while Moser finished third last year, capturing his second individual medal.
“Good for those guys for all three to lose a semifinal match and the toughest match in wrestling is to come back from losing a semifinal and then go right back against a guy who just won and the fact that those guys did it and went one more match into placing,” Perham head coach Robb Moser said. “They did it so convincingly. I don’t think I have seen guys get pins like that in the third place match, that was real impressive. My hat is off to them. I love the ability that they can bounce back from heartbreak and it’s good to see smiles on all three of their faces.”
Moser said they wanted to have more guys on the board for individual places and to place higher than fifth and both of those things happened at this year’s tournament.
“It’s a good springboard for next year. Those three guys, Leighton (Rach) and Dawson (Kellogg) all are state placewinners and every one of those guys can aim to be higher on that. I think they all want their name in red next year (that’s being a state champ). That puts us in a nice spot. I don’t know if we ever had a team that is going to have five state placewinners coming back. It’s great day for these three guys.”
After his hand was raised, Werner shook the hands of the opposing coaches and shared a giant hug with his father and coach, Wayne, after capturing the third place medal in the Class AA Individual Championships at 106.
“It felt great to really connect with my dad,” Owen said after his match and sharing a hug with his father. Wrestling is a huge tradition in the Werner family and he said it was an honor to continue on the tradition.
“It feels good that I can carry on and be one of the Werners that have my name up on the board in the room,” Owen said. “It feels good so next season I can look up there and be ready to go next year.”
The win almost eluded Werner when he was taken down in the first period by Kasson-Mantorville’s Logan Vaughan. However, Werner recovered when Vaughan was on top. Werner countered with a key reversal, evening the score at two heading into the second period.
“It felt pretty good. I was a little worried at the beginning but I got that reversal and then I felt in control,” Werner said. “I think it (the reversal) was very important. When he took me down I was a little nervous, but when I was on the bottom, I collected myself, felt confident and knew I could come back later. That reversal really helped boost my confidence.”
Werner said his play was to avoid a takedown in the second and keep it tied heading into the third and win by one. However, he got control of Vaughan and was able to get him in a cradle to secure the pin.
“I got the takedown and felt pretty confident that the match was mine then,” Werner said. “In the cradle, I knew I just had to sit there and wait for the pin. I had plenty of time to do that.”
He said it was great to end the season with a win and uses it as motivation to be ready to go for his junior season. The third place victory was his 40th win of the season.
Werner bounced back from a tough semifinal loss when he was defeated by Byron’s Maxwell Peterson 12-4. Peterson was the top-seeded wrestler at 106 and he took control of the match early.
Werner responded with an 8-1 decision win over Benilde-St. Margaret’s Zyan Hall in the semifinals, setting up the third place match and victory over Werner.
The official’s hand hit the mat and Zach Peterson jumped up on his feet and clapped his hands, showing the emotions of a capping off a season of hard work with a third place pin over Albany’s Gabe Zierden. Peterson ran over to his coaches and celebrated his second win over Zierden during the tournament.
“It felt great. It’s a lot of hard work and it finally paid off,” Peterson said. “It feels really good. There are so many people to thank, coaches, parents, friends and family. It all comes down to getting that final win and winning your final two matches and celebrating it with the people that helped you the most.”
Peterson wasted little time in going on the attack against Zierden. It started as a carbon copy of their first match with Peterson going on the attack from the beginning. He led 4-1 after the first period and got an early take down in the second. Peterson drove and worked for the pin. Peterson said he went in with the same mindset he had the first time he defeated Zierden. Zierden finished the season with just two losses, both of them to Peterson. He wanted to wrestle his match and continue to keep scoring.
“When you can end your season on a win, it’s great. Very few people can do that,” Peterson said. “I’m very grateful for all the things that have come my way. It shows that I’m working hard and I am very fortunate to be in that situation.”
The day started rough for Peterson when he was defeated in the semifinals by Kasson-Mantorville’s Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy was the top-seed and undefeated heading into the match. Kennedy worked Peterson over, earning the technical fall victory 17-2.
However, Peterson recovered from the tough loss with the victory. Peterson was victorious in the consolation semifinal when he defeated Collin Steuber by decision 7-1.
Peterson said it was great to be able to share this moment with a pair of teammates, who also secured fall victories in their third place match.
“It felt good and it feels even better to do it with my teammates. We were all able to win out and it’s so much more fun when you have your teammates who are working hard with you and all of us succeed the way we want too,” Peterson said. “To finish down here with two wins and we are enjoying it. This is awesome.”
It was a bittersweet finish for the Perham junior when he dismantled Watertown-Mayer’s Nick Nolan in 30 seconds. The junior was coming off a dominant victory over Kasson-Mantorville’s Jim Paulson in the consolation semifinals when he pinned him in 46 seconds.
It was a strong message sent by Moser, who was coming off a devastating semifinal loss to Foley’s Saylor Schmit.
“It’s good to get a win like that to end the season,” Moser said. “But, then again, it’s not where I wanted to be.”
Moser was leading Schmit in overtime 2-1 when he was called for a clasp late in the third overtime. It forced a fourth overtime and Schmit was able to get the point, earning the victory over Moser.
Moser came back determined, capturing his 149th and 150th career wins in the consolation semifinals and third place match.
“That was the mindset right after the loss. In a tournament like this, you don’t have a lot of time to dwell on things,” Moser said. “We knew right away that we were going to have to get our head screwed on straight and finish the tournament.”
Moser said he wanted to get out of there as quick as possible in that third place match. The junior wasted little time, getting a takedown in the opening seconds, bulldozing Nolan from the opening whistle. One of the keys for Moser in the tournament was to push the pace, which he said comes from the practice room.”
“When you have training partners like Zach (Peterson) and Dawson (Kellogg), you learn to do that in the room,” Moser said. “It gets easy to implement in a match like that.”
Moser didn’t realize how close he was to his 150th win going into the match. He looked into the crowd after the match and was greeted with a sign. He followed by giving his father, Robb, and the coaching staff hugs.
“To get that on the last match of the season was fun,” Moser said of his 150th win. “It feels good.”