by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls senior and five-time state qualifier Josh Bernier capped his high school career with a third place finish at 160 pounds, and junior Cade Lundeen reached the medal stand for the second consecutive year with a fourth place finish at 126 during the MSHSL State Wrestling Tounrmanent Friday and Saturday, March 2-3 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
With his third place finish, Bernier is part of a select group that includes fellow third place finishers Colt Bergeron in 2003, Andrew Peralta in 2006 and 2007, Kyle LeDuc in 2009, and Nathanael Holecek in 2013 and 2015.
“For Josh, having the career he had, going out this way was really special for him,” said Head Coach Kenny Geiser. “Making the tournament five times but missing the podium, it was really fitting for him to get to the podium and place third. He is part of an elite group of Prowler wrestlers who have finished in third place.”
Bernier opened the tournament with a 19-6 major decision win over Josh Wenthe of Chisago Lakes, and a 9-6 quarterfinal win over Jacob Hageman of Simley.
“Josh got sick on Wednesday and it seemed to make him focus more on his wrestling,” Geiser said. “Winning that quarterfinal match and guaranteeing a spot on the podium was a huge relief for Josh.
In the semifinals, Bernier ran into a tough opponent in eventual champion Cade Mueller of Waconia.
“His shoe broke and the referee was not too polite to us, trying to hurry us up to get back in the match. We taped it and it was kind of slippery and we taped it some more, but ideally we could have gotten a new shoe for Josh.”
Bernier got back on track with a 5-1 win over Kole Platt of Nashwauk-Keewatin-Greenway in the consolation semifinals and he closed out his high school career with a win by fall over Braydon Ortloff of Detroit Lakes in the third place match.
“Getting third place the way he did, beating the number one ranked kid in the state for the second time in a week, was a great way for Josh to end his career,” Geiser said.
Lundeen opened the tournament with a win by fall over Jon Hall of Milaca-Faith/Faith Christian, before being knocked out of the championship bracket with an 8-2 loss to two-time defending state champ Charlie Pickell.
Lundeen’s wrestle back matches included an 8-2 win over Connor Swetala of Richfield, a 6-3 win over Cameron Kowitz of Foley and a win by fall over Josh Holm of Grand Rapids. Lundeen’s tournament ended with a loss to Jacob Prunty of Worthington in the fourth place match.
“Cade’s season really started to come together at the end of the year,” Geiser said. “Coming back through, Cade dominated his wrestleback matches. Being in better shape opened up his offense because the other guys got more tired.”
Also competing for the Prowlers were Brenan Peralta, 195; Jake Davis, 132; and Conner Swanson 285.
Peralta’s tournament included wins over Nick Gallegos of South St. Paul by fall and Dylan Aslackson of Scott West by fall.
“Brenan making his third trip had a great first round match, running over the kid from South St. Paul.” Geiser said. “Really nice season for Brennan when he came back and a nice state tournament picking up a couple wins.”
Davis was a 3-1 winnver over Bryce Fistzpadrick of Mahtomedi, before falling to Jake Gliva of Smiley by 23-6 technical fall and Cole Ranweiler of New Ulm by fall.
“Jake really improved a lot this,” Geiser said. “He had a great first round match and was tied 4-4 with Gliva early in the second period,” Geiser said. “We were a little disappointed in Jake’s third round match. He got into a scramble situation and Jake got pinned. Would have liked to rewind that match because I think Jake could have competed better.”
Swanson gave up around 70 pounds in his opening round match against Luke Zaiser of Simley but battled for all six minutes in a 2-0 loss.
“We wrestled a pretty good guy from Simley,” Geiser said. “I’m really proud of the season Connor had,” Geiser said. “It was really up and down with some of the sickness he had. He really came on a couple weeks ago”
126AA – Cade Lundeen (42-7) placed 4th. Champ. Round 1 – Cade Lundeen (Thief River Falls) 42-7 won by fall over Jon Hall (Milaca-Faith Christian) 26-10 (Fall 2:53); Quarterfinal – Charlie Pickell (Mankato West) 47-3 won by decision over Cade Lundeen (Thief River Falls) 42-7 (Dec 8-2); Cons. Round 1 – Cade Lundeen (Thief River Falls) 42-7 won by decision over Connor Swetala (Richfield) 33-8 (Dec 8-2); Cons. Round 2 – Cade Lundeen (Thief River Falls) 42-7 won by decision over Cameron Kowitz (Foley) 41-11 (Dec 6-3); Cons. Semi – Cade Lundeen (Thief River Falls) 42-7 won by fall over Josh Holm (Grand Rapids) 51-6 (Fall 4:27); 3rd Place Match – Jacob Prunty (Worthington) 38-3 won by decision over Cade Lundeen (Thief River Falls) 42-7 (Dec 6-2).
132AA – Jake Davis (36-10) DNP. Champ. Round 1 – Jake Davis (Thief River Falls) 36-10 won by decision over Bryce Fitzpatrick (Mahtomedi) 42-10 (Dec 3-1); Quarterfinal – Jake Gliva (Simley) 48-6 won by tech fall over Jake Davis (Thief River Falls) 36-10 (TF-1.5 4:43 (23-6); Cons. Round 1 – Cole Ranweiler (New Ulm Area) 30-17 won by fall over Jake Davis (Thief River Falls) 36-10 (Fall 2:49).
160AA – Josh Bernier (48-6) placed 3rd. Champ. Round 1 – Josh Bernier (Thief River Falls) 48-6 won by major decision over Josh Wenthe (Chisago Lakes) 18-12 (MD 19-6); Quarterfinal – Josh Bernier (Thief River Falls) 48-6 won by decision over Jacob Hageman (Simley) 32-15 (Dec 9-6); Semifinal – Cade Mueller (Waconia) 49-5 won by decision over Josh Bernier (Thief River Falls) 48-6 (Dec 3-1); Cons. Semi – Josh Bernier (Thief River Falls) 48-6 won by decision over Kole Platt (Nash-Kee-Greenway) 40-9 (Dec 5-1); 3rd Place Match – Josh Bernier (Thief River Falls) 48-6 won by fall over Braydon Ortloff (Detroit Lakes) 25-3 (Fall 3:46).
195AA – Brenan Peralta (16-3) DNP; Champ. Round 1 – Brenan Peralta (Thief River Falls) 16-3 won by fall over Nick Gallegos (South Saint Paul) 29-8 (Fall 3:05); Quarterfinal – Bobby Striggow (Orono) 47-0 won by fall over Brenan Peralta (Thief River Falls) 16-3 (Fall 4:27); Cons. Round 1 – Brenan Peralta (Thief River Falls) 16-3 won by decision over Dylan Aslaskon (Scott West) 35-18 (Dec 4-3); Cons. Round 2 – Jim Paulson (Kasson-Mantorville) 38-14 won by fall over Brenan Peralta (Thief River Falls) 16-3 (Fall 2:14).
285AA – Connor Swanson (33-13) DNP; Champ. Round 1 – Luke Zaiser (Simley) 38-11 won by decision over Connor Swanson (Thief River Falls) 33-13 (Dec 2-0).