Dillon Kifer needs to win a state wrestling title.
If for no other reason than to finally display his true athletic ability.
Kifer can do a back flip from a standing position. However, the only time the Little Falls senior will be allowed to show this trick to his wrestling fans is if he wins a Class 3A state individual title.
“His athletic ability is his biggest strength,” said Flyers head coach Mike Hendrickson. “He can do a back flip standing and after he won the Bemidji tournament last weekend he said, ‘Coach, can I do it?’ I told him ‘No, but thanks for asking.” I told him after he wins a state title he can.”
Kifer, the all-time career wins leader at Little Falls, earned career win No. 172 with a 10-1 major decision over Badger/Greenbush-Middle River’s Colton Doty in the 145-pound championship match of the Bemidji Rick Lee tournament Jan. 14.
Kifer advanced to the championship with a 58-second pin over Jarek Ledwick of Roseau and a 1:46 pin of Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena’s Daven Staples.
In the Flyers’ 47-25 loss to Class 2A’s seventh-ranked Milaca Jan. 13, Kifer pinned Dylan Czech in 1:22.
“He’s gotten to be quite a pinner for us,” said Hendrickson. “Our team is known as a pinning team and he won our team pinning trophy last year. That’s the first time he’s done that because our other senior, Frank Wilczek, is going for his 100th career pin. But Dillon got him last year and he’s on track to get him again this year. He’s 18-1 and he’s leading our team in pins with 12 and he’s also our takedown leader. He’s a dominating wrestler.”
Kifer’s lone loss was at the Paul Bunyan tournament in Brainerd. Other than that loss, the six-year varsity veteran has owned opponents this year.
As a junior, Kifer placed sixth at the Class 2A state individual tournament and owned 38-8 record. He was 37-5 as a sophomore, 30-13 as a freshman and 34-10 as an eighth-grader. All four years he advanced to the state tournament.
His goal this season is a fifth straight state trip followed by a back flip.
“My main goal is to win state,” said Kifer. “It’s definitely going to be more difficult in (Class 3A) with the Apple Valleys and all the other city teams. There are some pretty good wrestlers, but a state title is doable.
“I think I’m wrestling really well this year and from what my parents, and everyone else who watches me say, I’m doing better than last year.”
Kifer’s leadership and pinning have been vital to the Flyers’ success. Little Falls is considered one of the favorites in Section 8-3A.
Hendrickson said Kifer is a good wrestler who is competing with a lot of confidence — but not too much.
“Coming into the varsity as a seventh-grader I learned over the years if you go into a match thinking that you might lose you have a lot better chance of losing,” Kifer said. “If you go in thinking you’re going to win, you have a better opportunity to win.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Beau Howard, Pine River-Backus, scored 25 points against Cass Lake-Bena.
Dallas Ehrmantraut, Verndale, finished with 21 points, eight assists and six steals against New York Mills.
Nathan Holm, Pine River-Backus, finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds against Nevis.
Evan VanErp, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 23 points against New York Mills.
Matt Valentine, Little Falls, finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds against Thief River Falls.
Hockey: Joey Bergquist, Northern Lakes, made 32 saves against Morris-Benson.
Michael Stumpf, Little Falls, made 14 saves in a 9-1 victory over Detroit Lakes and 19 saves in a 5-1 win over St. Cloud Tech.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.