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Annual KLN Invitational is Saturday

The Perham Yellowjacket wrestling team jumps right back into the thick of things with the 39th annual KLN Family Brands Invitational at the Prairie Wind Middle School on Saturday morning.

The Perham Yellowjacket wrestling team jumps right back into the thick of things with the 39th annual KLN Family Brands Invitational at the Prairie Wind Middle School on Saturday morning.

The Yellowjackets return to the mats after an extended break over the holidays to host the annual event.

“We have been doing this for 30 plus years. It’s good to have a tournament in your own backyard,” Perham Head Coach Robb Moser said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to bring as many teams in. A month ago, we thought we had nine teams coming, but we are now down to six teams. At this stage in the game, you are trying to log matches for your kids. For us, being at home is an advantage for our kids. We are trying to stay healthy, get matches, get better and keep rocking into January.”

The Yellowjackets last competed at the Les Kerstcher Duals in Frazee. That event took place on Dec. 19. Moser gave the kids five days away from the mat, and since that break they have returned prepping for the second half.

“We planned it that way. There are different schools of thought in that you should keep on rocking. Wrestling is so mentally and physically grinding. We took five days off of practice and told them we don’t want them thinking about wrestling,” Moser said. “It’s taxing on the body. We know our January is intense and our December was really intense. From our perspective, it’s working out exactly how we want. The fear is that we will come out a little sluggish. I think our kids needed a little break and sometimes kids just want to be kids.”

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In a strange twist, the Frazee Hornets are coming to the annual invitational in Perham.

“Wrestling is getting to be so unique because there is a match count. They ran into a situation where they needed kids to get more matches, so they asked if they could come,” Moser said of the Hornets entering the KLN Invitational.

New London-Spicer, Detroit Lakes, Roseau and United North Central are teams amongst the field.

The Yellowjackets return three champions from last year’s field. The Yellowjackets had six individual winners last year. The other three champions from last year have since graduated.

Dylan Fudge, Chase Curtis and Jesse Klatt all claimed championships last year at the home tournament.

It’s an opportunity for the five seniors on the Yellowjacket roster to compete in a different format in front of their home fans.

“For our seniors, every home match is a blessing. This is a pretty cool deal. We have always circled it, because it is a pretty cool deal,” Moser said. “You don’t get a lot of chances where you get three matches in front of your home crowd. Wrestling Frazee will be a different feel; we haven’t seen Frazee teams, which is OK. We are at a point where we aren’t padding records, we want to get better.”

The tournament puts the pressure on the individuals in each class, allowing them to try to find that intrinsic motivation on their way to a hopeful championship. It’s something that Moser said the team likes to do, along with the dual meet tournaments.

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“We try to do a mix of both with our conference tournament, Wadena tournament and this one. We try to tell the wrestlers that individually, you have to find your own motivation and you will run into some buzz-saws,” Moser said. “When you do team stuff, it’s a different style of wrestling. If kids want to get to the state tournament and medal, they have to wrestle the best and find ways to win. It’s a different mindset and we think we have the best of both worlds with the way our schedule is set up. We do a lot of dual meet wrestling, which we have thrived at and we give our kids the opportunity to wrestle some real tough kids.”

The Yellowjackets are coming off a dual meet victory with Pierz, but it was a match that the Yellowjackets showcased their youth. Moser said it will be interesting to see if his team has matured in a match sense.

“It’s our kick start to get going in to January,” Moser said. “The middle of January is where it gets really crazy.”

The KLN Family Brands Invitational will begin on Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Prairie Wind Middle School gymnasium. 

Related Topics: WRESTLING
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