Both Brainerd Warrior teams that compete in section tournaments this weekend are among the favorites to advance to state.
The gymnastics team, ranked fourth in Class 2A, travels to Elk River for the section meet Saturday. Brainerd finished its dual-meet season 9-0, its fifth straight unbeaten season.
Brainerd's wrestling team (11-6-0) is seeded second and opens section competition Saturday at Bemidji High School against the winner between No. 10 St. Cloud Apollo and No. 7 Fergus Falls. Semifinals are 3 p.m. and the championship at 5 p.m.
Gymnastics -- Other teams competing are Alexandria, Bemidji, Buffalo, Elk River, Maple Grove, Moorhead, St. Cloud Apollo and Tech and Willmar.
"Don't sell Willmar short," Warriors coach Dave Maras said. "They've got a very good team. I see Elk River has scored 143 and 141.
"On any given day anything can happen to anybody but I feel comfortable with the way our kids are performing right now. I'm optimistic but yet cautiously optimistic. If we go out and perform the way we have the last three meets we will be just fine."
Tech is ranked sixth in 2A. Brainerd edged the Tigers 143.825 to 143.25 on Jan. 22 at St. Cloud and seven days later beat Willmar 146.85 to 143.40.
The Warriors' Katie Perpich and Willmar's Beth Zimmer are among the top individuals. Perpich ranks in the state's top 25 with her 37.35 all-around score. Zimmer has the ninth-highest all-around score (38.025) and the sixth-best floor exercise (9.70).
Brainerd, the five-time defending section champion, set a school record with 148.525 points in its final dual of the regular season.
Wrestling -- This season the Warriors won their first conference title in nine years.
Other section teams include Bemidji, Elk River, Little Falls, Moorhead, St. Cloud Apollo and Tech, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Fergus Falls and Alexandria.
Brainerd's only section losses were to Tech (33-32) and Bemidji 44-14. Twelve days after losing to Tech the Warriors bounced back to thump the Tigers 29-21.
If the Warriors beat the Apollo/Fergus winner they would meet the Tech/Alexandria winner in the semifinals.
"I guess it was kind of expected to a point," Warriors coach Bob Brakke said of the No. 2 seed. "The difficult thing is Fergus Falls is seventh, which I thought was very low. Fergus had a couple injuries when we wrestled them, they're supposedly healthy now. Fergus is a very good No. 7 team."
Brainerd's top records include Kyle Dukowitz (23-8), Dan Fleischhacker (21-8), Tyler Jensen (22-5), Nate Rubin (14-8), Greg Strand (22-10) and Tom Zelinske 27-3.
Girls' basketball -- Brainerd (12-9) plays Thursday at Alexandria (14-7) and hosts St. Cloud Tech (14-8) Tuesday. Megan Arns is averaging 12.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. Maria Swanson is averaging 9.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg.
Boys' hockey -- The Warriors (15-7-2) host St. Cloud Tech (20-3-1) Thursday in the final game of the regular season. Brainerd lost to Tech 5-1 on Jan. 15. Morgan Shepherd leads in scoring (27 goals, 52 points), followed by Chris Peluso (10-41), Gregg Day (17-30) and Carl Sneep (4-22). Nick Whichello is 8-5-1 in goal, Tyler Ostman 4-2-0 and Jake Carlson 3-0-1.
Boys' basketball -- Brainerd (4-16) hosts Sauk Rapids (7-11) Friday, is at Class 4A's sixth-ranked Minnetonka Saturday night and at Hibbing Tuesday. Zach Eastman is averaging 12.1 points, Blake Eller 10.7 and Justin Mueller 10.3.
Floor hockey -- The Warriors host Robbinsdale Armstrong Wednesday. Adam Thiel has 24 goals and 36 points, Chris Jordan 14-28 and Jacob Ray 6-16.
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