by Scott DCamp
Following a season-opening 44-23 dual meet loss against defending Section 8AA champion Perham Dec. 8, Thief River Falls wrestling coach Kenny Geiser knew his team could be in the hunt for a section title if the Prowlers could turn around decision losses at 106, 120, 126, and 132 pounds.
The Prowlers didn’t have to wait for a rematch with the Yellowjackets, with the teams facing each other just two days later in the championship match of the Grand Forks Sertoma Tournament .
The Prowlers qualified for the finals with a 51-18 opening round win over Central Cass and a 55-18 quarterfinal win over Valley City Friday night, followed by a 36-34 win over Bismarck Century in a nail-biter Saturday morning.
Because the dual was contested under North Dakota rules, the Thief River Falls vs. Perham title match began at a drawn weight which happened to be 145 pounds. Thief River Falls jumped out to an early 13-0 lead with Kyle Fowler pinning Dylan Fudge at 145, Josh Bernier majoring Gage Paurus 14-4 at 152, and Noah Hawkins defeating Evan Guck 8-4 at 160,
Perham got on the board with three straight wins and took a 14-13 lead following a Dawson Kellog 13-3 major decision win over Kyle Miller at 170; a Zachary Peterson win by fall over Hunter Roller at 182; and a win by Ty Moser by 18-7 major decision over Brenan Peralta at 195.
The teams alternated falls at 220 and heavyweight, with Connor Swanson pinning Jose Lopez at 220 to give the Prowlers a 19-14 lead; and Jonathan Staebler pinning Brayden Ivaniszyn at heavyweight to put the Yellowjackets back in front by one.
Matthew Kolden gave the Prowlers a 22-20 lead with a 6-2 win at 106 over Owen Werner.
Perham took the lead 26-22 with a win by fall over Ethan Nelson.
Thief River Falls reclaimed the lead, 31-26, with wins by Jake Davis over Gabe Bellefeuille, 7-4, at 120; and Cade Lundeen by fall over Leighton Rach at 126.
The dual meet came down to the final two matches and a little bit of controversy. Patrick Johnson of Perham was a 14-8 winner over Cole Johnson at 132, after a Cole Johnson headlock that would have clinched a victory for the Prowlers was deemed illegal and stopped earlier in the bout.
Perham sealed the decision and remained the team to beat in Section 8AA when Ben Nelson pinned Cody Sele at 138 to complete the 35-31 result.
“Very impressed with the progression of this team early on,” Geiser said. “We are young but the experience is showing. Also, this may be the most aggressive pinning team I have seen in a while. We were explosive and scored a lot of falls on some great opponents.”
Thief River Falls was hardly tested in its duals against Central Cass and Valley City, recording 12 wins by fall.
Against Central Cass, the Prowlers got wins from Hunter Roller, Brenan Peralta, Brayden Ivaniszyn, Brady Kasprick, Mathew Kolden, Jake Davis, Cade Lundeen, Cody Sele, Josh Bernier and Noah Hawkins. Kasprick and Ivaniszyn picked up their first varsity wins.
Against Valley City, the Prowlers got wins from Peralta, Swanson, Ivaniszyn, Kasprick, Cody Wienen, Davis, Johnson, Sele, Fowler, Miller and Roller.
To get to its first Sertoma championship match since the fall of 2008, Thief River Falls had to outlast defending North Dakota runner-up Bismarck Century.
Thief River Falls dropped three of the first four matches and trailed 15-6 before winning four straight matches by fall, with Kyle Fowler, 145, Josh Bernier, 152, Noah Hawkins, 160, and Kyle Miller, 170, earning key falls to give the Prowlers a 30-15 lead with six matches remaining.
After four consecutive Bismarck wins cut the Prowler lead to 30-28, Matthew Kolden clinched the semifinal victory with a win by fall at 106 pounds.
“The ability to not get pinned against Century helped us secure that win,” Geiser noted. “Kyle Miller, Hunter Roller, Brenan Peralta and Brayden Ivaniszyn all avoided pins against ranked opponents and that was the difference. We only won six matches but won the dual. We also pinned three ranked opponents.”
TRF 51, Central Cass 18
170: Wade Berg (CC) over Kyle Miller Fall 3:18; 182: Hunter Roller (TRF) over Joe Ellison Fall 1:32; 195: Brenan Peralta (TRF) over Joe Ellison Fall 1:59; 220: Cade Merrigan (CC) over Connor Swanson Dec 2-0; 285: Brayden Ivaniszyn (TRF) over Ryan Muscha Dec 7-1; 106: Brady Kasprick (TRF) over Evan Gross Fall 1:10; 113: Matthew Kolden (TRF) by forfeit 120: Jake Davis (TRF) over Andrew Volk Dec 6-1; 126: Cade Lundeen (TRF) over Junior Totay Fall 2:48; 132: Cody Sele (TRF) over Chase Jacobson Dec 6-1; 138: Chase Gross (CC) over Jayce Lizakowski Dec 6-0; 145: Andrew Jahnke (CC) by forfeit; 152: Josh Bernier (TRF) over Jeremiah Sullivan Fall 5:00; 160: Noah Hawkins (TRF) over Cameron Gilley Fall 0:30.
TRF 55, Valley City 18
195: Brenan Peralta (TRF) over Cade Powers Fall 0:36; 220: Connor Swanson (TRF) by forfeit; 285: Brayden Ivaniszyn (TRF) by forfeit; 106: Brady Kasprick (TRF) over Bennett Rogelstad Fall 1:40; 113: Cody Wienen (TRF) over Ashton Sadoski Fall 3:17; 120: Jake Davis (TRF) over Evan Mielke Fall 0:41; 126: Parker Larson ((VC) over Aaron Bruggeman Fall 0:18; 132: Cole Johnson (TRF) over Jonah Schuldheisz Fall 2:33; 138: Cody Sele (TRF) over Jared Undem Maj 16-4; 145: Kyle Fowler (TRF) over Jonathon Langer Maj 15-6; 152: David Peterson ((VC) by forfeit 160: Kyle Miller (TRF) over Sage Kvien Fall 1:07; 170: Logan Erlandson ((VC) by forfeit 182: Hunter Roller (TRF) over Jake Tangen Dec 7-1
TRF 36, Century 34
120: Shane Fleck (BC) over Jake Davis Fall 1:53; 126: Cade Lundeen (TRF) over Izaiah Bitz Fall 3:20; 132: Clint Coleman (BC) over Cole Johnson Dec 9-4; 138: Mason Schulz (BC) over Jayce Lizakowski Fall 1:10; 145: Kyle Fowler (TRF) over Mason Burke Fall 2:52; 152: Josh Bernier (TRF) over Trey Pajimula Fall 3:42; 160: Noah Hawkins (TRF) over Bo Bondeson Fall 0:51; 170: Kyle Miller (TRF) over Tanner Kress Fall 4:21; 182: Cameron Rants (BC) over Hunter Roller Dec 10-4; 195: Jacob Rader (BC) over Brenan Peralta Maj 10-1; 220: Philip Walter (BC) over Connor Swanson TB-1 7-5; 285: Riley Roesler (BC) over Brayden Ivaniszyn Dec 6-2; 106: Matthew Kolden (TRF) over Hayden Johnsrud Fall 5:24; 113: Dylan Barchenger (BC) over Ethan Nelson Fall 0:21.
Perham 35, TRF 31
145: Kyle Fowler (TRF) over Dylan Fudge Fall 5:56; 152: Josh Bernier (TRF) over Gage Paurus Maj 14-4; 160: Noah Hawkins (TRF) over Evan Guck Dec 8-4; 170: Dawson Kellogg (P) over Kyle Miller Maj 13-3; 182: Zachary Peterson (P) over Hunter Roller Fall 1:36; 195: Ty Moser (P) over Brenan Peralta Maj 18-7; 220: Connor Swanson (TRF) over Jose Lopez Fall 1:04; 285: Jonathan Staebler (P) over Brayden Ivaniszyn Fall 2:21; 106: Matthew Kolden (TRF) over Owen Werner Dec 6-2; 113: Dylan Johnson (P) over Ethan Nelson Fall 2:58; 120: Jake Davis (TRF) over Gabe Bellefeuille Dec 7-4; 126: Cade Lundeen (TRF) over Leighton Rach Fall 5:11; 132: Patrick Johnson (P) over Cole Johnson Dec 14-8; 138: Ben Nelson (P) over Cody Sele Fall 3:48..