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Wrestlers turn in best performance at state

Lead Summary

Since all sporting events have been put on hold, enjoy this article that first appeared in the Star Herald 20 years ago.
A record-setting season by the Luverne-Hills-Beaver Creek wrestling team came to an end during the Minnesota State Class AA Wrestling Tournament at the Target entering Minneapolis last week and weekend.
The Cards set a program record by having seven athletes qualify for the state tournament during the Section 3AA competition, and one week later they set another program standard by having three wrestlers capture metals at the same state meet.
Alex Serie, an LHS senior, set the pace by winning a state championship at 171 pounds.
Luverne senior, Jordan Petersen, made a bid to win the heavyweight state title before finishing second. Ellsworth senior, Tom Jenniges, placed fourth at 129.
The last time more than one Luverne wrestler placed at the state tournament also was the first time it happened. In 1994, Luverne’s Matt Skattum won the state title at 152 points. Teammate Travis Bird finished sixth at 160 the same year.
Serie became the program’s fourth state champion by winning four straight matches to claim his crown.
He joins an elite group of LHS athletes that consists of his cousin, Skattum, Dan Meyer, and Dan Petersen who have won state wrestling championships. Petersen became Luverne’s first state champion in 1976, and Meyer gained his in 1981.
Serie, who qualified for the state tournament as a junior, used his past tournament experience to propel him to the 171 title. After going 1-2 without placing at 160 last year, Serie went to state knowing this would be his last official high school competition, and he wanted to make a statement as a senior.
“I went up there thinking about winning it all,” he said. “I thought I wrestled pretty well. This definitely is the high-point of my senior year.”
Serie got off to a good start during the tournament’s first two rounds Thursday. After posting a 10-2 major decision win over Caledonia’s Shawn Naber, he gained a berth in Friday’s semifinals by topping Rockford’s Josh Bechtold 3-0
The Cardinal kept his momentum going during the semifinals. Facing St. Michael-Albertville’s Marty Hackenmueller for a shot at a state title, Serie turned in a dominating performance that resulted in a 12-2 major decision victory.
Waiting for Serie in Saturday’s finals was a familiar foe in Grand Meadow-LeRoy-Ostander-Kingsland’s Clint Hodgdon. Both wresters met as juniors during last year’s state tournament, with Hodgdon nipping Serie 4-3 in the wrestle backs.
With Hodgdon ranked No. 1 and Serie No. 2 in Class AA individual rankings, a tight battle was expected and took place in the championship match. Both wrestlers sustained bloody noses during the battle, but Serie never trailed in the match and nailed down a 7-6 victory.
“It felt terrific,” Serie said about beating Hodgdon in the finals. “I guess we had a little rivalry going. He beat me by one point last year, so it made me want to get him back this year. It was a tremendous feeling.” Serie, who has wrestled varsity for L-H-BC-E since the eighth grade, finished his career with 121 career winds after posting a 34-1 record this winter. Only Skattum (136) has compiled more wins in Cardinal colors than Serie.
Serie is unsure if he will wrestle in college, but he did earn the right to compete in Minnesota-Wisconsin Class this weekend. State champs from both states wrestle each other in matches at Coon Rapids tomorrow and River Falls, Wis, Saturday.
By placing second at 275, Jordan Petersen may have came up with L-H-BC-E’s biggest surprise performance at sate.
Petersen never got out of the section field during a varsity wrestling career that began when he was a sophomore and ended with his stunning effort last week that capped a 30-7 season,
All things considered, Petersen, who produced Luverne’s first state championship in 1976. That was a fact not lost on the younger Petersen in Minneapolis.
“My dream was to place first, just like my Dad did,” Jordan said. “I’m satisfied with placing second. I really didn’t have any expectations (prior to the state meet). I just wanted to give it my best shot.’
Petersen’s best shot was nearly good enough for a state title.
He opened tournament action Thursday by nipping Fairmont’s Pete Kuisle 6-5 before pinning Nashwauk-Keewatin-Greenway’s Tyson Arden in 5:15  during the quarterfinals.
Petersen pulled out another 6-5 decision win during Friday’s semifinal-round match against Perham’s Tony Harmes, sending him to Saturday’s championship bout against Foley’s Jake Helming.
Aggressiveness is what took Petersen to the title match, but it may have hurt him during a 9-3 loss to Helming.
“I got too aggressive out there in the finals and he capitalized on my mistakes. He capitalized on my mistakes. He (Helming) was a pretty good wrestler.” Petersen offered.
There was one opponent that kept Jenniges from placing higher than fourth at the state meet. Both Jenniges’ losses came at the hands of Minnewaska Area’s Joe Bryce, who finished third in the 189-pound field.
Jenniges began his first experience at the state tournament by rolling to a 13-1 major decision victory over Milaca-Faith Christian’s Nick Hermanson during Thursday’s first round before Bryce nipped him 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
The Ellsworth High School student regained his winning form during Friday’s wrestle backs by pinning Fosston-Bagley’s Sean Larson in 3:30 and saddling Sauk Centre’s Jon Withers with a 10-0 major decision setback while qualifying for Saturday’s medal rounds.
Jenniges advanced to the third and fourth-place match with a 4-3 win over Big Lake’s Peter Ottem. His 35-3 senior season came to an end when Bryce handed him a 3-1 setback in the match for third and fourth-place.
Zach Skattum, an LHS junior making his first appearance in a state tournament, went 1-2 without placing at 160 pounds.
Skattum beat Pequot Lakes-pine River-Backus’ Luke Abraham 8-5 in Thursday’s first round before dropping a 10-3 decision to eventual runner up Casey Flaherty, of Big Lake, in the quarterfinals.
Skattum’s 25-11 campaign ended with an 18-9 loss to Park Rapids Area’s Brandon Gruchow during the first round of the wrestle backs Friday.
Luverne seniors Jeremy Kopp and Brad Cowell, and Ellsworth sophomore Christ Tiesler all went 0-1 during their first trips to the state tournament.
Kopp came up on the short end of a 10-5 decision to Monticello’s Vince Depatto during his first match at 140. When Depatto, who eventually placed third, lost in the quarterfinals, Kopp’s 167 season came to an end.
Cowell was pinned by Fillmore Central-Lanesboro-Mabel-Canton’s Jeremy Larson in 5:52 during the first round of 152 pound action Thursday. Larson lost his next match, ending Cowell’s 10-9 year.
Tiesler lost an 8-4 decision to Kasson-Mantorville’s Jason Rhoten during the first round at 119 points Thursday. Tiesler’s 27-9 season concluded when Rhoten lost his next match.

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