Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
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Jesse Hein, Cody Nylander and Luke Sailer all went undefeated at the Rick Lee Wrestling Invitational in Bemidji Saturday leading the Yellowjackets to a second place finish. Perham senior heavyweight Hein improved to 23-0 on the season winning three matches in a variety of ways. Hein had little trouble in his opening match pinning Terrance Horton, of Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena/Indus, at 42 seconds. Hein dominated Aitkin's Cooper Blau for a major decision, 17-4, to advance to the finals where he met a familiar foe in Alex Yeager of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River.
Something had to give when Perham visited New York Mills in a battle of two teams with dual winning streaks. Perham ended NY Mills' six-dual run by winning their eighth straight, 49-22, Friday evening. "The team is coming around," Perham Head Coach Robb Moser said. "We wrestled better than I expected, but we still have lots of room for improvement." The match started out quickly for the Eagles at the lower weights. NY Mills opened up a 13-0 advantage taking the first three matches. Jeremiah Harper defeated Elliot Werner 15-7.
The New York Mills girls basketball team (1-11) dropped their 10th straight game Thursday night, to non-conference foe Park Christian, 45-25, in New York Mills. Early foul trouble plagued Ellie Rutten, but the Eagles stayed close early in the game. Rutten, who typically leads the Eagles in scoring, was held to only five points. A Jenna Esala bucket cut the Park Christian (2-9) lead to just four at 16-12 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
The Perham girls basketball team fell into a three-way tie for last place in the Heart O' Lakes Conference, with a record of 1-3 in the standings and a mark of 4-8 overall, after a loss to Hawley, 41-28, in Perham Thursday evening. "We played better defense but Hawley took us out of everything we wanted to do on offense," Perham Head Coach John Gullingsrud said. Perham was held to under 40 points for the second time this season, both against the #6-ranked Nuggets.
VERNDALE--A quick sprint by the Verndale Pirates led to an insurmountable 40-19 halftime lead, as the Pirates improved to 2-2 in Park Region Conference play. The Eagles fall to 0-5 in the conference and 1-10 overall. Verndale's Dallas Ehrmantraut led all scorers with 21 points. Aaron Denny added 17. Marco Gomez scored 15 points. The trio scored all but 11 Pirate points in the 64-47 final. The two-headed scoring monster of Adam Snelgrove and Charlie Peeters continued their team-leading efforts. Snelgrove scored 17; Peeters had 16.
A three-week hiatus from competition did not deter the #3-ranked and defending Class A state champion Yellowjacket gymnastics team as they returned to action with a big win over Park Rapids, 141-104.925. Perham took four of the top five all-around finishes. Satera Montella won her third consecutive all-around title with a score of 35.25. She was first on vault, 9.25, and balance beam, 9.35. She added a third place finish, 8.75, on floor exercise. Yellowjackets were tops in all four events. Alexis Peichel's 9.1 was the highest score on uneven bars.
Four forfeits in each of Perham's two matches versus Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah and Pelican Rapids helped spot the Yellowjackets to 24-0 leads in each match and neither match ended close. Perham dispatched Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah 49-12 and took a few more liberties with their cross-county foes Pelican Rapids 64-13. Brandon Lueders won by fall over Breckenridge/Campbell-Tintah's Mark Erickson at 2:42 of the 126-pound match.
The New York Mills wrestling team is on a roll, winners of six straight duals, and just in time. Two tough tests are coming up on the schedule when the Eagles will face Perham and Border West. The sixth straight victim to the surging Eagles was Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale.
The Perham girls basketball team (4-7) has had their share of close games this season.
Perham finished in second place to New London-Spicer in the Barrel O' Fun Invitational, held Saturday, in Perham. Jesse Hein, Cody Nylander and Luke Sailer all won their respective weight titles. Sailer was also named Oustanding Wrestler of the tournament. Sailer, 12-2 on the season and ranked #10 in the state took the 138-pound title undefeated. After a first round bye, he won a 6-2 decision over Sauk Centre-Melrose's Tommy Latzka. He shut out Max Pajari, 3-0, in the semifinals and took the championship 10-3 over Parker Jackson, of Detroit Lakes.