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WRESTLING: Bemidji pins down 2nd straight perfect Rick Lee Invite with 7-0 record

The Lumberjacks once again breezed through the field at the Sanford Center, locking up four more team victories to finish 7-0. The spotless weekend marked another undefeated Rick Lee for the Jacks.

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Bemidji senior Dane Jorgensen wrestles his opponent from LPGE/Browerville during the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – The Bemidji High School boys wrestling team had no problem soaking in the friendly confines of the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday.

The Lumberjacks once again breezed through the field at the Sanford Center, locking up four more team victories to finish 7-0. The spotless weekend marked their second consecutive perfect performance at the two-day home invite – the Jacks also went 7-0 in last year’s edition at the BHS Gymnasium.

“We had some great matches,” BHS head coach Rance Bahr said. “I thought the kids wrestled really well. I thought we progressed over the weekend from Friday through Saturday, and started cleaning up some things that we've been working on. Everybody had good matches and competitive matches. And that's the goal this time of year, to just keep practicing for the end of the year.”

Bemidji closed out the event with wins over Frazee (49-30), Holdingford (32-18), Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville (41-28) and Brainerd (55-21) to polish off a 4-0 Saturday slate.

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Bemidji junior Ricky Wuori grapples with his opponent from LPGE/Browerville during the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“We're progressing really well,” said senior wrestler Dane Jorgensen, who was perfect at 160 pounds on Saturday. “We're fixing a lot of minor things we could fix. People fighting off their back, stuff like that.”

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The eight-team weekend showcase carried on an important Bemidji wrestling tradition and once again honored the contributions of Rick Lee, who played an outsized role in the development of the Jacks’ program.

“It's great to have a home match,” Bahr said. “It's a great atmosphere. Rick Lee was a teacher and a wrestling coach at Bemidji High School. And it's just important to remember Rick and the things that he had done through our wrestling program positively for kids in our community. Some of our dads went through his program. It's good to keep that running and just keep remembering that year after year.”

The Lumberjacks are building toward the section playoffs, which are coming into focus about a month away on the horizon. For seniors like Jorgensen in their final go-around, the time is now to kick training into high gear while also appreciating the last chance to be together as a team.

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Bemidji senior Tom Paquette wrestles his opponent from LPGE/Browerville during the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“It's really nice to be around (the guys) and wrestle with them,” Jorgensen said, “seeing how they progress through the tournament and through the season.”

Jorgensen singled out his fondness for one of the Jacks’ traditions, one that he enjoys helping impart to the younger wrestlers. When running laps at the BHS Gymnasium, Bemidji’s wrestlers take the door on the right instead of the left. Why? Allow Bahr to explain.

“On our track on the upper course, there's a door on the left and a door on the right,” Bahr said. “One of the things that we always do is we take the door on the right, because it's one step further. So every time you run one lap, and you take the door on the right, you go one step further. You run 10 laps, that's 10 steps.

“Over the course of the year, we run hundreds and hundreds of laps. It’s a way to remind people that the little things matter and the little steps are important, and to always do the little things well and keep moving forward.”

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Bemidji junior Brody Castonguay wrestles his opponent from LPGE/Browerville during the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Jorgensen’s way of describing it?

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“State champions always take that extra step,” he said.

Jorgensen is joined by three other key seniors on this year’s squad, and Bahr lauded the way those four have led by example.

“This senior class has been leaders for us since they were freshmen and sophomores,” Bahr said. “They've always done a great job, and they've always been kind of quiet leaders. But I will say that Seth (Newby), Dane, Barrick (Nelson) and Coy Olsen have all stepped up this year to take things over, be more vocal leaders and show some positive leadership with the younger kids and mentoring them.”

The Lumberjacks next return to the mat for the Thief River Falls invite at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, in TRF.

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Fans encourage a wrestler during a match at the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji 49, Frazee 30

106: Cash Osterman (FRZ) over Brenalen Fredriksen-Holm, Fall 0:41

113: Gabe Morin (BHS) over Liam Hamm, MD 9-0

120: Nick Strand (BHS) over Blake Sonnenberg, Fall 1:16

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126: Gavin Osborn (BHS) over Brady Borah, Fall 1:21

132: Brody Castonguay (BHS) over Mason Wilkowski, Fall 3:34

138: Alec Newby (BHS) over Josh Mellema, Dec 12-5

145: Ricky Wuori Jr. (BHS) over Bailey Peichel, Fall 4:56

152: Tyler Moe (FRZ) over Talen Fairbanks, Fall 3:14

160: Dane Jorgensen (BHS) over Jake Nagel, Fall 4:42

170: Seth Newby (BHS) over Preston Mayfield, Fall 2:21

182: Coy Olsen (BHS) over Jack Graham, Fall 1:51

195: Daniel Graham (FRZ) over Spencer Ness, Fall 4:00

220: Derek Zitzow (FRZ) over Kayden Parson, Fall 3:04

285: Xander Kohler (FRZ) over Tom Paquette, Fall 1:27

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Bemidji senior Hunter Heim wrestles his opponent from LPGE/Browerville during the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji 32, Holdingford 18

106: Casey Knettel (HDF) over Makaya Gotchie, MD 13-4

113: Wyatt Pilarski (HDF) over Gabe Morin, Dec 4-3

120: Nick Strand (BHS) over Wyatt Novitzki, Dec 9-7

126: Hunter Heim (BHS) over Evan Petron, MD 13-3

132: Masyn Patrick (HDF) over Brody Castonguay, Dec 4-3

138: Alec Newby (BHS) over Simon Boeckman, Dec 3-0

145: Ricky Wuori Jr. (BHS) over Grant Welle, Dec 7-0

152: William Pilarski (HDF) over Talen Fairbanks, MD 13-0

160: Dane Jorgensen (BHS) over Drew Lange, Dec 10-4

170: Seth Newby (BHS) over Evan Lichy, Fall 1:12

182: Coy Olsen (BHS) over Kolton Harren, MD 10-0

195: Jaxon Bartkowicz (HDF) over Spencer Ness, MD 15-1

220: Barrick Nelson (BHS) over Blake Scegura, Dec 5-0

285: Tom Paquette (BHS) over Wyatt Miller, Dec 7-3

011823.S.BP.BHSWRES2 Alec Newby.jpg
Bemidji sophomore Alec Newby grapples with his opponent from LPGE/Browerville during the Rick Lee Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji 41, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Browerville 28

106: Hunter Katterhagen (LGB) over Brenalen Fredriksen-Holm, Fall 1:18

113: Gabe Morin (BHS) over Evan Flan, MD 9-1

120: Nick Strand (BHS) over Colby Twardowski, Fall 3:24

126: Gavin Albers (LGB) over Gavin Osborn, MD 10-0

132: Hunter Heim (BHS) over Ryan Browen, TF 16-1

138: Brody Castonguay (BHS) over Justin Houdek, Fall 1:02

145: Alec Newby (BHS) over Nathan Browen, Dec 4-0

152: Mason Bruder (LGB) over Ricky Wuori Jr., Dec 9-3

160: Dane Jorgensen (BHS) over Tucker Zigan, TF 19-2

170: Seth Newby (BHS) over Jacob Hidalgo, Fall 0:40

182: Andre Recknor (LGB) over Spencer Ness, Fall 3:13

195: Tate Twardowski (LGB) over Coy Olsen, Dec 5-3

220: Alex Line (LGB) over Kayden Parson, Fall 2:00

285: Tom Paquette (BHS) over Ethan Meyer, Fall 3:17

Bemidji 55, Brainerd 21

106: Jackson Berhow (BRD) over Makaya Gotchie, Fall 1:28

113: Gabe Morin (BHS) over Dossidy Fleischhacker, Fall 4:48

120: Nick Strand (BHS) over Jaxson Derosier, Fall 0:34

126: Hunter Heim (BHS) over Cade Ostrowski, MD 11-3

132: Easton Dircks (BRD) over Gavin Osborn, Fall 3:46

138: Alec Newby (BHS) over Isaiah Germann, Dec 9-4

145: Ricky Wuori Jr. (BHS) over Elijah Germann, Fall 3:09

152: Isaiah Jillson (BRD) over Talen Fairbanks, Fall 2:40

160: Dane Jorgensen (BHS) won by forfeit

170: Seth Newby (BHS) won by forfeit

182: Shane Carlson (BRD) over Coy Olsen, SV-1 5-3

195: Spencer Ness (BHS) won by forfeit

220: Barrick Nelson (BHS) won by forfeit

285: Kayden Parson (BHS) over Titus Thompson, Fall 0:50

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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