WRESTLING: Three Bemidji grapplers eager for state tournament openers
BEMIDJI – It has been a long winter for the Bemidji High School wrestlers but for a three Lumberjacks the extensive workouts have been rewarded with trips to the state meet.
Last weekend senior Logan Crosby, junior Kade Johnson and sophomore Brian Maas won section championships and earned trips to the state competition.
Crosby will take a 34-3 record into Friday’s opening match in the 126-pound weight class. And he is excited to test himself against the best wrestlers in the state.
“I went to state when we went as a team during my sophomore year but this is my first time going as an individual,” Crosby said. “I remember that the intensity level at state is crazy. No one is joking around down there. It is all business. And that is something that I like.”
Crosby will open against Grant Bolduan (15-12) of White Bear Lake. Bolduan was the runner-up in his section meet.
In his second match Crosby will face either Nick O’Brien (36-6) of Wayzata or Ferhan Abdisa (16-16) of Osseo.
Crosby believes that he can advance deep into the tournament and hopes to be wrestling in the championship match on Saturday.
“There is only one kid in the field with a better record than mine (Ben Brancale of Eden Prairie who is 36-1),” Crosby said. “And I think it’s an advantage being from Bemidji because people look at us as being from a small town so it’s tough to be ranked. But that gives us the opportunity to surprise some people and that’s what I plan to do.
“This is my last chance to wrestle and I plan to make the best of it,” Crosby added.
No one in the 170-pound class has more wins than Johnson. The junior will bring a 37-4 record into his opener against Jackson Graham of Apple Valley (27-13). At the opposite end of his bracket is top-ranked Corey Parsons of Andover who is 37-5.
“Wrestling in the state meet is something I’ve been waiting for since I was a little kid,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling since first grade and this is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Johnson is a member of the 100-win club and enters the tournament ranked sixth in his weight class.
The majority of his 37 victories this winter, including all three in the Section 8-3A meet, have come by pins and he hopes to continue that trend.
“I’ve been doing Greco Roman wrestling and I’m pretty good with the head lock,” Johnson said. “I like to pin my opponents. When you win by a pin you don’t have to wrestle for the full six minutes.
“I’ll be pretty psyched at the state,” Johnson continued. “My goal will be to place and go as far as I can in the meet. Everybody I’ve talked to who has been to state said the key is to not be nervous, believe in yourself and keep a positive mind set. And that’s what I plan to do.”
Among the wrestlers Johnson consulted is teammate Brian Maas. The sophomore will be making his second straight trip to the state meet and last year he placed third at 106 pounds.
“Last year I learned that state is a big tournament and you have to go hard the entire six minutes because anything can happen,” Maas said. “I think I’ll be a little smarter this year because I was here last year.”
Maas owns a 37-3 record and is ranked third in the state in his weight class. He will open against Brand Moen of Owatonna (32-7) and then will wrestle either Austin Braun of Woodbury (31-11) or Mike Mischke of Centennial (30-12).
“Last year I lost in the last 30 seconds in the quarterfinals and came back to take third,” Maas said. “I lost because I didn’t go as hard as I needed to at the end of that match.
“But I learned from that loss,” he continued. “My main goal this year is to win state and to do that I will need the right mental mindset. You have to believe that you are the one who is unstoppable. You have to believe that you are the one who can overpower your opponent.”
Maas can’t wait for Friday and he has spent the week fine-tuning his skills.
“I’m pumped and I’ve worked hard in practice this week to get ready for state,” Maas said. “It’s going to be an exciting weekend.”