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WRESTLING: Lumberjacks roll for state tourney berth

LITTLE FALLS -- For the first time since 2011, the Bemidji High School wrestling team is king of Section 8-3A. The second-seeded Lumberjacks ran through the section tournament field in Little Falls on Saturday, beating No. 10 Rocori 70-11 in the ...

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From left, Bemidji High School wrestling captains Bryce Golden, Chance Hinrichs and Alan Wuori walk off the mat with the Section 8-3A championship trophy after the Lumberjacks qualified for state with a 39-20 win over Willmar Saturday in Little Falls. (Joe Brown | Forum News Service)

LITTLE FALLS -- For the first time since 2011, the Bemidji High School wrestling team is king of Section 8-3A.

The second-seeded Lumberjacks ran through the section tournament field in Little Falls on Saturday, beating No. 10 Rocori 70-11 in the semifinals, No. 3 Brainerd 48-18 in the semifinals and No. 1 Willmar 39-20 in the finals to book state reservations after nearly a decade away.

“We’re excited,” BHS head coach Rance Bahr said. “That was a goal of ours -- to win the section title. We certainly aren’t going to settle on just winning the section title. We’re excited to place at the state tournament and give our best effort for the entire state.”

Bemidji blasted past the Spartans in the quarterfinals, using eight pins to reach the semis. There, the Lumberjacks met the third-seeded Warriors. It was neck-and-neck after 152 pounds, where Brainerd had an 18-17 lead, but BHS was perfect from then on for 31 unanswered to close it out.

In the finals against top-ranked Willmar, Bemidji did its job early and often. Seth Newby (120 pounds) and Joe Hudson (126) picked up back-to-back decision wins, as did Bryce Golden (138) and Darren Roth (145). In between it all, Dane Jorgensen added a pin after 1 minute, 59 seconds at 132 pounds.

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Colton Hinrichs later took an 8-4 decision at 160 pounds, and Chance Hinrichs (170) and Nic Geiger (182) followed suit with late pins.

Kaleb Beam put a bow on the win at 285, winning by fall in 3:33 for the 39-20, section-clinching win.

“We had a lot of different matchups from the previous dual with them,” Bahr said of Willmar. “We moved several kids around, weighed some kids in at different weights.

“I was impressed by the work ethic of the kids, their attitude to never give up and never stop. Overall, every one of the kids did a great job. They worked very hard. Every one of them went out and and met their expectations or beyond.”

The Class 3-A state team tournament will kick off at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

First up, though, the Section 8-3A individual tournament will take place Saturday, Feb. 23, in Rocori, starting at 10 a.m.

Related Topics: BEMIDJI HIGH SCHOOL
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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