Perham senior Jack Fudge and junior Brian Ramos are no strangers to state competition. Fudge took third in the 152 weight class in last year’s state tournament, and he’s hoping to improve on that finish this year. Ramos will be competing in his third consecutive state tournament this year in the 182 weight class.

Having gone to the state tournament since he was a freshman, Ramos, who won the section championship, feels confident going in that he can be successful.

Head coach Dave Vetsch broke down the matchups for the three state-bound wrestlers. Freshman Chandler Mickelson, who had a season record of 27-5, has been seeded 8th, so he will wrestle the No. 1 seed in his first match at 106 pounds. If he wins he’ll advance, and if he loses he’ll compete for fifth place.

Fudge finished the regular season with a 28-2 record. He’s the No. 4 seed and, according to Vetsch, he has a strong chance of winning the title in his weight class.

Also seeded fourth is Ramos, who had a regular season record of 30-1. “He’s got a really good shot, too,” Vetsch said.

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“We’re really excited for those three guys,” Vetsch said. “We’re looking forward to it and think the guys will be competitive and do really well.”

Jack Fudge grapples with his opponent at the individual state preliminary tournament at Foley High School Saturday, March 20, 2021. Fudge is one of three Perham Yellowjackets advancing to the individual state tournament. (Robert Williams / Forum News Service)
Jack Fudge grapples with his opponent at the individual state preliminary tournament at Foley High School Saturday, March 20, 2021. Fudge is one of three Perham Yellowjackets advancing to the individual state tournament. (Robert Williams / Forum News Service)

Although this season was different from any other, Ramos says he was grateful to have a season at all and that he and his team were able to compete. One big difference is the size of the tournament. While most years there is a 16-man bracket, meaning the top four wrestlers advance out of each section, this year it is an eight-man bracket, so only the top two advanced.

The state tournament is a one-day event this year at St. Michael-Albertville on Friday, March 26.

This year, Ramos is going in with a little extra motivation. "After my injury last year at the state tournament, I have something to prove going in this year," Ramos said. While he didn't set any specific goals for himself this year, he said "I just want to prove to myself that all the hard work I've put in this year was worth it."

Wrestling isn't a sport for everyone because it's a grind everyday, Ramos said. "You have to fall in love with the grind that is put in everyday. You also have a bond between your teammates and coaches that's different than any other sport," Ramos said. "These are the things that have kept me loving the sport since I was a kid."

His bond with his teammates is obvious. "I am feeling very confident going in and I am also very excited to watch my teammates compete. I have some very high hopes for them and I know they will do amazing," Ramos concluded.