Despite winning just one individual championship the Bemidji Lumberjacks captured the team title in the 34th annual Paul Bunyan Invitational wrestling tournament Saturday at Brainerd High School.
Bemidji, which had five runners-up, accumulated 167.5 points. First-year entrant Perham emerged from a dogfight to edge Foley for second place by one-half point, 149.5 to 149.0.
The Brainerd Warriors were fifth with 130 points, Aitkin was sixth with 113 and Staples-Motley placed seventh with 84.
"A few wins in there helped," Brainerd coach Bob Brakke said as his team moved up three spots from the basement last year. "We didn't have a 171-pounder so we lost potential points there."
Aitkin coach Dan Stifter was happy with the way the Gobblers scrapped until the end.
"We never quit," he said. "When we did get beat we went down with a fight. That's all you can ask for. Some kids gained some good experience. Hopefully, that will pay off for them."
S-M coach Jeff Dravis said the Cardinals, who have won this tournament 19 times, remain in the midst of a learning curve as they wait for several injured wrestlers to recover.
"We hope to get a few more guys back after Christmas," he said. "If we don't, we will work with what we have. They all are improving. We have a lot of inexperienced kids. It takes a while. Hopefully, by the end of the year we will have it all put together."
Final team scores -- Bemidji 167.5, Perham 149.5, Foley 149, Grand Rapids 147, Brainerd 130, Aitkin 113, Staples-Motley 84, Blaine 72
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