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Yellowjackets capture fourth straight Section 8AA Championship

The Perham Yellowjackets celebrate their fourth consecutive Section 8AA Team Championship. Jason Groth/FOCUS1 / 3
Perham's Jose Lopez gets swarmed by his teammates after securing the victory for Perham with a 5-2 decision win at 285, helping Perham to the 32-27 victory over Detroit Lakes. Jason Groth/FOCUS2 / 3
Perham's Leighton Rach works for control against Detroit Lakes' Payton Jackson at 132. Rach earned a 4-2 decision win. Jason Groth/FOCUS3 / 3

“It was amazing,” Perham’s Jose Lopez said after he helped the Perham Yellowjacket secure a 32-27 victory over Detroit Lakes on Feb. 17 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls, Minn.

The win gave the Yellowjackets their fourth consecutive Section 8AA Championship, and second straight championship victory over Detroit Lakes.

“That was one of the most exciting matches I have ever been a part of,” Perham head coach Robb Moser said. “What a cool memory for those kids and what a good fight, that we thought it was going to be. It was no gimme for us to win. It looked bleak after we lost at 182. A tip of a cap to Detroit Lakes, they came ready to go, but I’m so darn proud of our guys.”

The Yellowjackets were clinging to a 29-27 lead after Ty Moser picked up a major decision at 220.

Lopez entered the match at 285 with one thing on his mind and that was winning. He said he just had to win and they needed to go to state.

He delivered in a big way against Charles Barnett. Barnett went for a shot late in the third period, but Lopez was able to turn him and get the match sealing takedown in the closing seconds, securing a 5-2 win.

Jose Lopez

“I just needed to get one more point on the scoreboard,” Lopez said. “I was winning but I needed to get one more. I just went in, he shot and turned, then I went and got that last takedown.”

Last year, Lopez went to state, but he was a bystander as he suffered an elbow injury, keeping him out of competition. This year, he helps propel the Yellowjackets back to the Xcel Energy Center.

“It’s just amazing. I don’t know how to explain it,” Lopez said of being in that spot. The Yellowjackets weighed Lopez in at a higher weight than usual for the potential matchup at 285, according to Moser.

“We knew that we might have to bump up and that’s always a risk when you bump people up. We weighed him in for that scenario,” Moser said. “Jose tends to psyche himself out a little bit. We were just a little concerned. Before the match, we were talking about if it could be tied and he said don’t worry about it coach, ‘I got this.’ That’s gutsy for a kid do that, but he did and he pulled it off.”

Both teams had early momentum swings in the match. Owen Werner and Brody Ullyott traded 8-4 decision wins, which was followed by a four match win streak for Perham. Gabe Bellefeuille earned a 15-5 major decision win, followed by Leighton Rach’s 4-2 decision win. Jack Fudge followed with a 5-2 win and Dylan Fudge secured a fall win at 145.

Moser said Rach and Jack Fudge gave them key wins in crucial spots. Rach bounced back from an overtime loss in the semifinals. He mentioned Fudge wrestling well beyond his age and coming up in a key spot like a veteran. He said it was key for them winning those toss up matches at 132 and 138.

Jack Fudge

“We thought Leighton was coming on and he looked a lot better. It was good to see that gleam in his eye,” Moser said. “The same with Jack and we forget that he is young. How many other sports do you take a ninth grader and expect them to act like he is a senior? He is an unsung hero for this team. Jack is a solid, solid wrestler. A lot of people take for granted that a ninth grader just goes in and does it.”

However, momentum quickly switched back to Detroit Lakes with a fall by Austin Baker and a narrow decision win by Braydon Ortloff. Noah Olds earned a crucial win when he edged Dawson Kellogg 4-3.

Perham responded in the final three matches. Zach Peterson picked up his 150th career win with a fall victory and Ty Moser secured a major decision win 23-11, setting up the heroics for Lopez at 285.

Zach Peterson

The Yellowjackets improved their season mark to 27-1 and will compete in the Class AA state championships, beginning on March 1 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Ty Moser

Perham 32, Detroit Lakes 27

106: Owen Werner (PER) def. Cade Jackson (DL) (Dec. 8-4)

113: Brody Ullyott (DL) def. Dylan Johnson (PER) (Dec. 8-4)

120: Blake Weber (DL) def. Gareth Covington (PER) (Fall 2:49)

126: Gabe Bellefeuille (PER) def. Blaine Henderson (DL) (Maj. Dec. 15-5)

132: Leighton Rach (PER) def. Payton Jackson (DL) (Dec. 4-2)

138: Jack Fudge (PER) def. Fabyon Greer (DL) (Dec. 5-2)

145: Dylan Fudge (PER) def. Brennan Sather (DL) (Fall 2:24)

152: Austin Baker (DL) def. Matthew Bush (PER) (Fall 1:37)

160: Isaiah Thompson (DL) def. Wyatt Guck (PER) (Dec. 5-4)

170: Braydon Ortloff (DL) def. Brian Ramos (PER) (Fall 5:27)

182: Noah Olds (DL) def. Dawson Kellogg (PER) (Dec. 4-3)

195: Zach Peterson (PER) def. Andrew Annette (DL) (Fall 1:04)

220: Ty Moser (PER) def. Jordan Skadsem (DL) (Maj. Dec. 23-11)

285: Jose Lopez (PER) def. Charles Barnett (DL) (Dec. 5-2)

Perham 42, Thief River Falls 21

The Perham Yellowjackets proved the old saying wrong that it’s tough to beat a good team three times in a season when they defeated the Thief River Falls Prowlers, 42-21, in the Section 8AA semifinals.

While the Prowlers put a small scare into the Yellowjackets early in the dual, the Yellowjackets depth and power in the middle to upper weights secured the victory. What momentum the Prowlers gained early on a fall by Cade Lundeen and an overtime win by Jake Davis was quickly halted by Jack Fudge, Dylan Fudge and Matthew Bush. The Fudge duo earned back-to-back falls at 138 and 145. Jack won his match at 1:40, while Dylan won in 10 seconds. Matthew Bush secured a decision win over Cole Johnson at 152.

Josh Bernier picked up a decision win on Wyatt Guck, but Perham rattled off three six-point victories, which sealed the match. Dawson Kellogg won by fall, while Zach Peterson earned a forfeit win and Ty Moser secured a pin.

Owen Werner and Gabe Bellefeuille picked up early wins for Perham. Werner earned a 7-3 decision, while Bellefeuille captured a fall win at 120.

Perham 42, Thief River Falls 21

106: Owen Werner (PER) def. Cody Wienen (TRF) (Dec. 7-3)

113: Brady Kasprick (TRF) def. Dylan Johnson (PER) (SV-1, 7-5)

120: Gabe Bellefeuille (PER) def. Brandon Zuniga (TRF) (Fall 1:51)

126: Cade Lundeen (TRF) def. Gareth Covington (PER) (Fall :33)

132: Jake Davis (TRF) def. Leighton Rach (PER) (SV-1, 14-12)

138: Jack Fudge (PER) def. Cody Sele (TRF) (Fall 1:40)

145: Dylan Fudge (PER) def. Collin Bruggeman (TRF) (Fall :10)

152: Matthew Bush (PER) def. Cole Johnson (TRF) (Dec. 7-2)

160: Josh Bernier (TRF) def. Wyatt Guck (PER) (Dec. 8-3)

170: Dawson Kellogg (PER) def. Mason Iverson (TRF) (Fall 1:09)

182: Zach Peterson (PER) wins by forfeit

195: Ty Moser (PER) def. Kevin Jensen (TRF) (Fall :14)

220: Brenan Peralta (TRF) def. Colton Kostynick (PER) (Dec. 6-1)

285: Connor Swanson (TRF) def. Jose Lopez (PER) (Dec. 4-1)

Perham 82, Fergus Falls 0

It was the perfect warm-up for the Perham Yellowjackets when they opened the Section 8AA Team Wrestling Tournament with an 82-0 victory over Fergus Falls.

The Yellowjackets had one wrestler go the distance as they picked up bonus points in every match, earning the dominant win.

Owen Werner, Dylan Johnson, Gareth Covington, Gabe Bellefeuille, Leighton Rach, Dylan Fudge, Wyatt Guck and Ty Moser picked up fall victories. Jack Fudge earned a major decision win, defeating Kaden Hartwell 15-5.

Dawson Kellogg, Zach Peterson, Jose Lopez and Colton Kostynick earned forfeit wins for the Yellowjackets.

Dylan Fudge picked up a milestone win when he put Sam Sorum to the mat at the two minute and seven second mark. Fudge captured his 150th career win.

Perham 82, Fergus Falls 0

106: Owen Werner (PER) over Chais Rudolph (FF) (Fall 2:25)

113: Dylan Johnson (PER) over Caden Olsen (FF) (Fall 1:50)

120: Gareth Covington (PER) over Jacob Widness (FF) (Fall 3:21)

126: Gabe Bellefeuille (PER) over Ethan Krause (FF) (Fall :38)

132: Leighton Rach (PER) over Justin Boyd (FF) (Fall 3:30)

138: Jack Fudge (PER) over Kaden Hartwell (FF) (Maj. Dec. 15-5)

145: Dylan Fudge (PER) def. Sam Sourm (FF) (Fall 2:07)

152: Matthew Bush (PER) def. Isaac Ophipahnt (FF) (Fall 5:24)

160: Wyatt Guck (PER) def. Isaac Oliphant (FF) (Fall 2:58)

170: Dawson Kellogg (PER) wins by forfeit

182: Zach Peterson (PER) wins by forfeit

195: Ty Moser (PER) def. Jay Rodriguez (FF) (Fall :10)

220: Jose Lopez (PER) wins by forfeit

285: Colton Kostynick (PER) wins by forfeit.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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