The biggest news before the 34th annual Paul Bunyan Invitational wrestling tournament gets under way at Brainerd High School may be about the wrestler who will not compete.
Four-time state individual champion Matt Nagel and the two-time defending Bunyan champion Frazee Hornets will not participate. Frazee is competing in the Minnesota Christmas tournament at Champlin Park this weekend.
"It's a little disappointing because (Frazee) brings up the level of the tournament a little bit," Brainerd coach Bob Brakke said. "And, a kid going for his fifth state championship will not be here. He would have been fun to watch.
"Frazee is great to wrestle. They're clean wrestlers. They have a good program. When you wrestle some teams they may be a little cocky. Frazee is not. They always appreciate our tournament."
Nagel, a University of Minnesota signee, is attempting to become the first wrestler in state history to win five championships. In addition, with 169 career victories, Nagel could eclipse the state record of 210.
If Nagel reaches the 152-pound finals at Champlin Park he is likely to meet 3-time state champion Marcus LeVesseur of Bloomington Kennedy. LeVesseur, a transfer from Minneapolis Roosevelt, is another Gophers signee who has won five national titles.
Although Nagel will not wrestle here, the Brainerd tournament has no shortage of top-flight competitors. Thirteen state entrants, including Foley heavyweight Jake Helmin, the defending Class AA champion, are scheduled to compete along with 16 performers who are ranked by the Guillotine, Minnesota's Amateur Wrestling Newspaper.
Other returning state entrants include Joe Miller, Bemidji; Quincy Osborn, Grand Rapids (runner-up); Ryan Cronemiller, Bemidji; Andy Pickar, Brainerd; Mitch Mistic, Bemidji; Jason Zastrow, Blaine (sixth); Mikal Peterson, Bemidji; Chris Tibbetts, Aitkin (sixth); Adam Shempert, Foley; JJ Kratzke, Perham; Tyler Bendson, Staples-Motley; and Tony Johnson, S-M (third). Brainerd heavyweight Trevor McCulloch, another state entrant, will not wrestle because he exceeds the 275-pound weight limit.
Top area records include Brainerd's Tom Zelinske (4-0) and Vince Sellnow (3-0); Staples-Motley's Jason Becker (7-1) and Jason Tholl (5-1); and Aitkin's Chris Tibbetts, Jordan Keil, Dusty Finlayson and Chad Hasskamp, all of whom are 4-0.
Paul Bunyan Wrestling Invitational
Brainerd High School
Friday 4 p.m. -- Opening round
Friday 7:30 p.m. -- Semifinals
Saturday 11 a.m. -- Wrestlebacks, fifth-place matches
Saturday 3:30 p.m. -- Championships, third-place matches
103-Joe Miller, 9th
119-Quincy Osborn, 4th
125-Ryan Cronemiller, 5th
130-Tom Tibbetts, Bemidji, 6th
135-Andy Pickar, Brainerd, 10th
140-Mitch Mistic, Bemidji, 6th
171-Jason Zastrow, 3rd
189-Mykal Peterson, 5th
Hwt-Barrett Willard, Bemidji, 7th
103-Ryan Holthaus, Foley, 6th
112-Chris Tibbetts, Aitkin, 4th
125-J.J. Kratzke, 10th
130-Tyler Bendson, 7th
145-Tony Johnson, 3rd
189-Dan Flatau, Perham, 8th
Hwt-Jake Helmin, 1st
Brainerd Warriors (1-0)
103 -- Vince Sellnow; 112 -- Dan Fleischhacker; 119 -- Tom Zelinske; 125 -- Dan Jillson; 130 -- Jesse Marohn; 135 -- Dusty Pickar; 140 -- Andy Pickar; 145 -- Luke Ostrowski; 152 -- Chad Weiss; 160 -- Matt Olding; 171 -- Lukas Marks; 189 -- Brandon Moser; Hwt -- Allen Stephenson
Staples-Motley Cardinals (3-4)
103 -- Brandon Redemske; 112 -- Justin Richards; 119 -- Chris Breitenfeldt; 125 -- Zach Hanson; 130 -- Tyler Bendson; 135 -- Jason Becker; 140 -- Jason Tholl; 145 -- Charlie Gaugert; 152 -- Bob Anglin; 160 -- David Frisk; 171 -- Adam Johnson; 189 -- Faron Cameron; Hwt -- Matt Schwitzenberg
Aitkin Gobblers (2-2)
103 -- Trevor Sterling; 112 -- Chris Tibbetts; 119 -- Jordan Keil; 125 -- Adam Landgren; 130 -- Matt Finlayson; 135 -- Joe McDonnell; 140 -- Bryan Holm; 145 -- Cale Sparks; 152 -- Kyle Bender; 160 -- Justin Keil; 171 -- Dusty Finlayson; 189 -- Darik Lamke; Hwt -- Chad Hasskamp
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