As if Blake Petrich needed any more incentive.
Class 2A’s top-ranked 182-pound wrestler suffered his only loss of the season in the Section 8-2A championship match last weekend.
The three-time state wrestler from Staples-Motley will begin his quest for the finals against ninth-ranked Connor McCormick of Caledonia on Friday.
“He’s not very happy,” said S-M head coach Dan Bjerga. “He’s getting over it. We talked to him a little bit and put things into perspective. Even if he had taken first in the section he could have still got drawn into the same bracket as the second-ranked guy.
“It doesn’t matter. He’s not going to do anything different than what he’s done all season. We do expect that he won’t do any high-risk moves like he tried in the section final.”
Petrich, who finished third in last year’s state tournament, has been ranked No. 1 all season. He could face second-ranked Lance Benick of Totino Grace in the second round. Then, fifth-ranked Tanner Tobkin of New London-Spicer would be waiting in the championship semifinals.
“I definitely think losing in the section final was a learning experience for him,” Bjerga said. “It will be a positive going into this weekend.”
Petrich’s teammates, Blake Miller and David DeYonge, will be making their first state appearance.
Miller opens against Foley’s Tyler Jenson. The 10th-ranked Jenson owns a 29-9 record. Miller is ranked ninth at 120 and owns a 38-5 record.
“I have high expectations for Blake,” said Bjerga. “He has really been wrestling well. He’s really improved a lot. I can see him potentially placing. If he has a good first match he could have a really good tournament.”
DeYonge (26-7) will face the defending state champion and third-ranked Austin Goergen (33-1) of Caledonia.
The toughest and most unique draw may belong to Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ Peter Harrison. The Road Crew senior, who is ranked No. 3 and has a 38-4 record, drew top-ranked and defending champion Taylor Lewandowski of Foley. It will be the third straight year Lewandowski will wrestle a Harrison in the state tournament. Lewandowski knocked off Christian Harrison, Peter’s older brother, the last two years.
“Peter has plenty of incentive going down there,” said Road Crew head coach Travis Hoffarth. “Lewandowski kind of has the family name.
“But Peter is extremely motivated being his senior year. This is his third trip and his previous two have left him without anything to show for it. He’s looking to medal.”
Darian Rubner is healthy and will be competing in his first state tournament. The Road Crew senior enters with a 37-5 record and will face 10th-ranked David Afolabi (36-6) of Brooklyn Center.
“He’s the feel good story in the sense that he’s been wrestling since he was young, but he’s battled injuries the last three years,” Hoffarth said. “This was his first section tournament since eighth grade. He missed his freshman, sophomore and junior years because of injuries. This year he was healthy and he showed us he was the wrestler we thought he was this whole time.”
The Road Crew’s Drey Loge owns a 31-7 record and will battle Waseca’s Tanner Pehrson (19-4) in the first round of the 138-pound bracket. Teammate Anthony Philipson is 31-8 and will face second-ranked Trevor Schultz (39-2) of Fairmont/Martin County in his first state match.
“Drey right now is wrestling very well,” Hoffarth said. “He already avenged two of his losses on the season by beating the (Luke) Sailer kid from Perham in the section semifinals and then took out the fourth-ranked wrestler (Parker Jackson) from Detroit Lakes in the finals. He’s peaking at the right time.”
Class 2A wrestlers
106: Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ Anthony Philipson (31-8) vs. Fairmont/Martin County West Trevor Schultz (39-2)
120: Staples-Motley’s Blake Miller (38-5) vs. Foley’s Tyler Jenson (29-9)
138: Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ Drey Loge (31-7) vs. Waseca’s Tanner Pehrson (19-4)
152: Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ Darian Rubner (37-5) vs. Brooklyn Center/Concordia Academy’s David Afolabi (36-6)
160: Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ Peter Harrison (38-4) vs. Foley’s Taylor Lewandowski (38-1)
182: Staples-Motley’s Blake Petrich (40-1) vs. Caledonia/Houston/Spring Grove’s Connor McCormick (32-5)
285: Staples-Motley’s David DeYonge vs. Caledonia/Houston/Spring Grove’s Austin Goergen (33-1)
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.