After a wrestling team wins a state championship, it's difficult to pick one wrestler for athlete of the week.
But, with a 3-0 record in team competition and a third-place finish as a 112-pound individual, Kyle Bednar personifies the Class 1A state champion Pierz Pioneers.
The sophomore, like his teammates, is loaded with natural talent. Last year, his first on the varsity, he was fifth at 103.
"He has tremendous balance," said Pierz coach Mark Jensen. "He's very steady and very smooth technically. You can always count on a good match from him."
Bednar has a quiet confidence and is humble about helping Pierz win state. Jensen described Bednar as a "real solid individual."
"We got back and the first couple of days we got a lot of congratulations," said Bednar, who also played on Pierz's state football team. "It was a good feeling knowing we won the first state championship for our school."
In team competition, Bednar scored a technical fall against Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial's Joey Wagner, helping Pierz to a 49-18 win. He then won by major decision over Frazee's Kyle Wegner in Pierz's 34-23 semifinal victory.
In the championship meet, he pinned Wabasso's Adam Ourada in 5:02.
"Team-wise, that's huge with Kyle and Hank (Virnig) starting things out for us and getting the ball rolling," said Jensen. "Against Wabasso, Hank lost a decision and Kyle gets a big pin, getting those points back for us. That was certainly important in that match."
Bednar said he looked at Ourada's record and thought he could get a pin.
"I first had him for a technical fall, but I quick put a cradle on him and ran him on the mat to get that extra point," Bednar said. "We knew it would be a close match so every point would count."
In the individual tournament, Bednar decisioned Jacob Sass of Chatfield, who was ranked second in 1A, 4-0 in the quarterfinals. In his third-place match, he decisioned Davey Kosen of Dilworth 11-8. Bednar's only loss was a 4-1 decision to Madelia-Truman's Andy Forstner in the semifinals.
"I thought I wrestled pretty well," Bednar said, "but I know the one I lost I could have wrestled better on my feet. He took me down and rode me out."
Bednar finished the tournament 7-1, improving his season record to 45-2 and his career mark to 83-13.
"To wrestle eight matches in three days with the quality of competition that you face down there is not only a physical grind but also a mental grind," said Jensen. "The kids as a whole really pulled together to get that state championship as a team. Friday night we had nine individuals in wrestlebacks or the semifinals and we won only one match after Frazee."
But, just like the rest of the Pioneers, Bednar said the team championship was more important.
"I wanted the team to win," he said. "Then, after we got done with the team, I just tried to do my best with my individual matches."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Cory Umland, Verndale, scored 29 points against Parkers Prairie.
Chris Clasen, Pequot Lakes, had 22 points and nine rebounds against Staples-Motley.
James Baumann, Pequot Lakes, had 21 points and 12 rebounds against S-M.
Brandon Courts, Lake Region, was named MVP in the Minnesota Christian Schools state tournament.
Chad Brever, S-M, scored 24 points against Park Rapids and 19 against Pequot Lakes.
Hockey -- Kyle Timm, Wadena-Deer Creek, collected 28 saves against Little Falls.
Aaron Jorgensen, Little Falls, had 32 saves against W-DC.
Wrestling -- Craig Luberts, Pierz, won his third straight 1A state individual title.
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