BEMIDJI -- Seth Sisneros was in New Mexico, racing horses, when he heard the news.
Wrestling is back.
“I was pretty surprised when they said wrestling was going,” said Sisneros, a senior on the Bemidji High School wrestling team. “I was like, ‘I have to fly back to get over there’ because I knew this is really cool. It’s a really good program.”
Sisneros and his teammates made their 2021 debut Friday night, putting together strong wins over Thief River Falls (42-27) and Perham (48-19) in a triangular at the BHS Gymnasium.
“It’s pretty rare to beat both of these teams in a regular season,” Lumberjacks head coach Rance Bahr said. “That kind of sets the tone for us and where we’re at. We have a very veteran team. Most of our kids were at the state tournament last year, and they’re hungry to get back to the state tournament.”
Bemidji comes into the season as the two-time defending champion of Section 8-3A, and there’s optimism that this group can pull off a three-peat. A No. 8 preseason ranking in Class 3A helps affirm that belief, as do wins over two top-15 programs in Class AA on opening night.
“I think our team is going to do really well this year,” Sisneros said. “We have a lot of seniors in our lineup, and that really helps. … It’s really cool there, at the state tournament. I really love it there. It’s a good goal to get over there because it’s a really fun atmosphere.”
In the opener against the Prowlers, BHS built up a 21-0 lead through four matches, which included pins for Brody Castonguay at 106 pounds and Alec Newby at 120. But Thief River came roaring back to tie things up at 21-all.
Seth Newby righted the ship with a pin at 170, however, and Barrick Nelson followed suit with a pin of his own. Colton Hinrichs clinched the win with a 10-4 decision, and Caleb Bahr tacked on another pin at heavyweight.
“We picked up a lot of bonus points. Our lower weights really set the tone for us,” coach Bahr said. “We had some tough losses tonight against some really, really good kids, but we wrestled well. It’s nice to get out… and get our season started.”
In the finale against Perham, Bemidji left no doubt.
Sisneros pinned his opponent in 1:26, the third straight for BHS. Gavin Osborn had a pin within 20 seconds at 113 pounds, and Alec Newby picked up another at the 3:30 mark. The Jacks had an 18-3 lead to work with, and they kept building from there.
Coy Olsen and Noah Leffelman won by fall at 138 and 145, respectively, for a 30-7 difference. Seth Newby and Hoyt Solum helped officially clinch the victory with three-point decision wins and a 36-10 edge with four weights to go. For good measure, Nate Schwinghammer (0:17) and Caleb Bahr (0:50) posted first-period pins to close the night.
“Everybody’s just excited to be back in the practice room, be around people,” coach Bahr said. “We’re super excited that we get to have a season. We’re very excited that we got to wrestle tonight, and we’re happy that we got out of here with two wins against two very good teams.”
Bemidji is scheduled to return to the mat at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, for a triangular against Mora and Little Falls in Mora. And Sisneros won’t be taking any of it for granted.
“It’s pretty good to be back with all my friends,” he said. “I missed that aspect of it, all the teamwork and everyone cheering you on. It feels pretty good.”
Bemidji 42, Thief River Falls 27
106: Castonguay (BHS) over Iverson, Fall
113: G. Osborn (BHS) over Jacobson, TF 17-1
120: A. Newby (BHS) over Svir, Fall 2:00
126: Kondos (BHS) over Peralta, MD 21-10
132: Geiser (TRF) over Sisneros, Fall 2:11
138: Lane (TRF) over Olsen, Dec 1-0
145: Lundeen (TRF) over Leffelman, Fall 4:55
152: Kasprick (TRF) over Roth, Dec 9-4
160: Wienen (TRF) over Jorgensen, Dec 6-5
170: S. Newby (BHS) over Zuniga, Fall 5:34
182: Nelson (BHS) over Fellman, Fall 2:20
195: Hinrichs (BHS) over Iverson, Dec 10-4
220: Sargent (TRF) over Frenzel, Fall 3:02
285: Bahr (BHS) over Ingram, Fall 3:20
Bemidji 48, Perham 19
106: Mickelson (PER) over Castonguay, Dec 4-2
113: G. Osborn (BHS) over J. Ramos, Fall 0:20
120: A. Newby (BHS) over Kruzel, Fall 3:30
126: Sisneros (BHS) over Feldt, Fall 1:26
132: Covington (PER) over Kondos, MD 13-0
138: Olsen (BHS) over Byer, Fall 4:55
145: Leffelman (BHS) over Lafond, Fall 1:00
152: Fudge (PER) over Roth, Dec 5-3
160: S. Newby (BHS) over Lorentz, Dec 12-6
170: Solum (BHS) over Kasowski, Dec 5-2
182: Hackel (PER) over Seitz, Dec. 2-0
195: B. Ramos (PER) over Hinrichs, Fall 3:44
220: Schwinghammer (BHS) over Vetsch, Fall 0:17
285: Bahr (BHS) over Bennett, Fall 0:50