#2 Bemidji has repeated as Section 8AAA wrestling champions, building a lead in the early weight classes on its way to a 41-20 victory over #1 Willmar on Friday at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.
The Lumberjacks will return to the Class AAA state team tournament at the Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 27-29. It’s the second-straight appearance at state for Bemidji after defeating Willmar 39-20 in the 8AAA final last year.
With Bemidji leading 32-20 at the time of the match, Caleb Bahr’s pin at 220 lbs. officially clinched the title for the Jacks with one bout remaining in the dual.
The lighter weight classes, much like the year before, bolstered the Jacks’ title hopes from the start. After a technical fall from Willmar’s Conlan Carlson at 106 opened up a 5-0 lead for the Cardinals, Coy Olsen answered with a 4-1 win at 113 lbs. to get Bemidji on the board. Seth Sisneros kept the momentum on the side of the second-seed with a pin at 120 to put the Lumberjacks ahead 9-5.
Caden Carlson’s 16-6 major decision at 126 tied the match at 9, but the Lumberjacks answered with three consecutive victories to build a significant advantage. Joe Hudson got a big result on a technical fall at 132 lbs. to push Bemidji’s lead to five.
Seth Newby followed it up with a narrow 5-4 decision at 138 before Dane Jorgenson’s 14-8 decision at 145 made it 11 straight points for the Lumberjacks, who now led 20-9 going into the 152 lb. match.
Willmar got a 5-1 decision from Jonas Anez at 152 to stem the tide, but Thade Osborn’s fall at 160 lbs. handed the Jacks yet another big victory to further extend the lead to 26-12.
Ethan Roux’s 10-3 decision at 170 for Willmar could only get the Cardinals within 11 before Colton Hinrichs added six more to Bemidji’s tally with a pin at 182 lbs.
Down 32-15 and desperate for results, the top seed stayed alive with a technical fall from Kaden Streed at 195 lbs. That set the stage for Bahr’s title-clinching fall, which put Bemidji ahead 38-20.
Chase Smith concluded the bout with a decision at 285, finalizing the 41-20 result.
Post-match interview with Bemidji head coach Rance Bahr:
On their road to the championship match, the Lumberjacks defeated #3 Brainerd 39-26 in the semifinals after a 47-15 victory against #7 Sauk Rapids-Rice in the quarterfinal.
Against Brainerd, the Jacks came back from a 20-9 deficit following the 145 lb. match to pull away in the latter weight classes and advance to the final. Pins from Darren Roth at 160 (highlight below) and Hinrichs at 170 pushed Bemidji ahead, with Nate Schwinghammer’s major decision at 182 and Justin Nelson’s 8-2 decision at 195 securing a spot in the championship.
In the quarterfinal against Sauk Rapids-Rice, the Lumberjacks trailed 15-6 in the early weight classes before a decision from Hudson at 132 and three consecutive pins from Newby (138), Jorgensen (145), and Osborn (152; highlight below) helped propel Bemidji in front for good. They would not lose a match the rest of the dual.
Olsen (two pins), Hudson, Osborn, Hinrichs (two pins), and Smith were all a perfect 3-0 in the team meet.
Prior to the Class AAA state team meet, Bemidji will turn its attention to the Section 8AAA individual tournament next Saturday at Willmar.
As a team, the Lumberjacks finished fourth place in Class AAA last season at the state meet.
Stay tuned to kbunsportsradio.com for information on the schedule for the Class AAA state team meet, including Bemidji’s schedule and broadcast details.