WRESTLING: Smith places 3rd, Roth 6th at state tournament

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Bemidji High School senior Chase Smith reacts to winning his third-place heavyweight match in the Class 3A individual state tournament on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (Joe Brown / Forum News Service)

ST. PAUL -- Though it didn’t end in a state championship, Chase Smith’s heavyweight run through the Class 3A individual state wrestling tournament was still one of the books.

Smith lost his semifinal match but rebounded with a third-place finish at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday, tying nine others for the program’s top individual finish since 2003.

“We knew the semis was going to be a difficult match for him,” BHS head coach Rance Bahr said. “He rebounded great to come back through and pin the next two kids. … He didn’t let the loss in the semis deter him or his goals. He just adjusted his goals and kept moving forward. I’m very excited for him and how he finished his senior year.”

Smith lost by a slim 1-0 decision to Bennett Weber of Coon Rapids -- the eventual state champ with a first-period pin in the title match -- to drop into the consolation field. But Smith pinned Elk River’s Seth Hopkins in 3:00 and, in the third-place match, pinned Aaron Voigt of St. Cloud Tech within 3:49 to avenge a loss from the Section 8-3A heavyweight championship.

Darren Roth also closed out his individual run on the podium. At 152 pounds, Roth defeated Rochester Century’s Garrett Pavelko by a 4-2 decision in overtime before decision losses in the next two rounds placed him sixth overall.


“Any time you can finish that weekend, with that competition, in the top six and be one of the six kids standing at the end of the night, that’s a great accomplishment,” Bahr said. “That’s wonderful for Darren. I thought he wrestled well all weekend. He put a great tournament together and he still gets another shot at it next year.”

Bahr is thankful for the experience the team had over the three-day extravaganza that is the state wrestling tournament. But come next year, the expectations will be higher.

“The takeaway… is that we easily can adjust our goals to be even higher than what they’ve been,” Bahr said. “(We want) to look toward getting the team a top-three finish at the team tournament and placing multiple individuals in the individual tournament.”

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Lumberjack senior Chase Smith (top) pins St. Cloud Tech's Aaron Voigt to place third at heavyweight in the Class 3A individual state tournament on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (Joe Brown / Forum News Service)

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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