After two consecutive years capturing the Section 8AAA wrestling title at Willmar’s expense, Bemidji’s run at the top was ended by the Cardinals in a 37-22 defeat in the section championship match Saturday afternoon at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.
Despite showing a knack for battling back from large deficits in the middle and heavier weights all season, Bemidji found itself down 24-0 after one pin, three major decisions, and two decisions piled up significant points for Willmar in the opening six matches of the dual. Coy Olsen came closest to claiming a victory during that span, but fell short 5-3 against Steven Cruze at 132 lbs.
Thade Osborn finally broke through for Bemidji at 145, topping Braeden Erickson 9-0 to pick up four team points from the major decision.
After another major decision for Willmar, Seth Newby posted a quick victory by fall at 160 lbs to give Bemidji a lift while trailing 28-10.
Joe Kallevig’s 12-7 decision over Hoyt Solum at 170 put Willmar on the brink of the title with a commanding 31-10 advantage. Needing a significant victory to keep Bemidji’s hopes alive, Barrick Nelson delivered a pin over three minutes into his bout with Tyler Ludwig at 182 to close the gap to 31-16.
Willmar confirmed its status as Section champions for the first time in three years with a decision victory by Kaden Streed at 195 lbs, putting the match out of reach at 34-16.
Colton Hinrichs grabbed a consolation pin for the Lumberjacks by wrestling up at 220 lbs.
Despite claiming the Section 8AAA title, Willmar was ousted from the Class AAA state tournament later in the afternoon following a 37-24 defeat against Section 7AAA champions Anoka.
Bemidji concludes its season 29-3 overall, with the 29 wins a new single-season program record.