WRESTLING: Early hole keeps Lumberjacks from section 3-peat

In a clash of the No. 3- and 4-ranked teams in Class 3A, Bemidji trailed 24-0 after the first six matches.

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Bemidji's Barrick Nelson (top) gets the fall on Willmar's Tyler Ludwig during their 182-pound match in the Section 8-3A championship match Saturday in Sauk Rapids. (Joe Brown / Forum News Service)

SAUK RAPIDS -- The Bemidji High School wrestling team’s reign atop Section 8-3A came to an end on Saturday.

Facing top-seeded Willmar in the Section 8-3A championship for the fourth year in a row, the Lumberjacks’ bid for a three-peat was denied with a 37-22 loss in Sauk Rapids.

“There’s no one on the team who’s happy about having lost in the section final,” BHS head coach Rance Bahr said. “We focused on the fact that we’ve had a great season. … It’s disappointing that the outcome was not what we had anticipated or what we wanted, but certainly a great season to reflect on.”

In a clash of the No. 3- and 4-ranked teams in Class 3A, second-seeded Bemidji trailed 24-0 after the first six matches. The Cardinals’ fast start included a pin and three major decisions, and the gap proved to be decisive.

“We didn’t quite have enough up top to be able to overcome that,” Bahr said. “We got ourselves in trouble down below in a couple matches that we really needed to win. If we pull out one or two of those close matches, it’s a completely different outcome.”


Thade Osborn finally got the Jacks on the board at 145 pounds, winning a 9-0 major decision. Seth Newby made it 28-10 with a pin at 160, which gave BHS some life, but an ensuing decision win for Willmar put them on the brink of victory.

Barrick Nelson also won by fall at 182, keeping Bemidji alive with a 31-16 score and three matches to go, but Kaden Streed clinched the section crown for the Cardinals with an 8-2 decision at 195 pounds.

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Bemidji's Nate Schwinghammer (left) hand-fights with Willmar's Kaden Streed during their 195-pound match in the Section 8-3A championship Saturday at Sauk Rapids. (Joe Brown / Forum News Service)

Colton Hinrichs then tacked on a pin at 220 for the Lumberjacks’ final win of the day.

The championship victory for Willmar is the team’s first title since 2018, when it defeated BHS 31-30. Bemidji then beat the Cardinals on the same stage in 2019 and 2020.

“We expect to be in the section championship every year, regardless of who our opponent is,” Bahr said. “The last four years it’s been Willmar, and they always put a good team together. Many years, that’s how it works out. We anticipate seeing them at the end of the year to get to the state tournament.”

The Jacks finish the team season with a 29-3 record, establishing a new program-high for wins in a season. The previous high was 27, set a year ago.


The year isn’t over quite yet for Bemidji, though. The individual Section 8-3A Tournament is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 17, at the BHS Gymnasium. Bahr hopes the Lumberjacks carry some pride with them for what they accomplished in the team season.

“Overall, I thought we wrestled well and had a good effort,” Bahr said. “Obviously we’re disappointed, but we were here, and seven other teams in the section didn’t have that opportunity. We’re happy to have had the opportunity. It’s been a great season.”

No. 1 Willmar 37, No. 2 Bemidji 22

106: Ivan Ciriaco-Mares (WIL) over Gavin Osborn, MD 13-2

113: Conlan Carlson (WIL) over Brody Castonguay, Fall 2:42

120: Sully Anez (WIL) over Hunter Heim, MD 15-5

126: Jorge Zelaya-Velasquez (WIL) over Seth Sisneros, Dec 6-2


132: Steven Cruze (WIL) over Coy Olsen, Dec 5-3

138: Caden Carlson (WIL) over Noah Leffelman, MD 14-6

145: Thade Osborn (BHS) over Braeden Erickson, MD 9-0

152: Jonas Anez (WIL) over Darren Roth, MD 18-5

160: Seth Newby (BHS) over Cameren Champagne, Fall 1:04

170: Joe Kallevig (WIL) over Hoyt Solum, Dec 12-7

182: Barrick Nelson (BHS) over Tyler Ludwig, Fall 3:14

195: Kaden Streed (WIL) over Nate Schwinghammer, Dec 8-2


220: Colton Hinrichs (BHS) over Ramero Trevino, Fall 5:22

285: Mason Swanson (WIL) over Caleb Bahr, Dec 3-2

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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