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Three of the four area wrestlers opened the state tournament with wins Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Park Rapids' Ashton Clark coasted to a 15-0 technical fall win over Scott West's Colton Bahr in the first round of the Class AA 113-pound division. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis' Kyle Schmidt upset Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Jarret Haglund with a 3-1 minor decision in the first round of the Class A 220-pound division. Haglund entered state rated No. 1 at that weight and the No. 2 seed.
Jeff Overmyer was a little worried when the Park Rapids girls basketball team faced a 30-14 deficit late in the first half of Thursday night's Section 8AA playoff opener against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle. The Park Rapids head coach felt a lot better after the Panthers went on a 20-1 run that sparked a 65-52 victory at the Area High School gym.
After breaking five school records at the Section 5A meet Feb. 24 at Alexandria, the six members of the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team were looking to duplicate those performances at the state Class A meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Seniors Matthew Benson and Zach Behrens, juniors Spencer Fritze and Zach Fritze, sophomore Marcus Benson and freshman Thomas Williams qualified for the state meet in six events, breaking school records in five of them.
Ashton Clark was hoping to join Tyler Safratowich as Park Rapids' only three-time state wrestling champions. A 3-0 loss to United South Central's Blake Legard in last year's state Class A 106-pound championship match prevented Clark from achieving that goal. Clark used that loss as inspiration to chase another goal.
Bertha-Hewitt earned a share of sixth place in the Park Region Conference standings with a 47-46 victory over the Menahga boys basketball team in the regular-season finale Feb. 23 at Menahga. The win gave Bertha-Hewitt a 6-8 record in the conference and a 9-13 overall mark. Menahga, which was defeated by the Bears 68-46 on Jan. 23 at Bertha, fell to 4-10 in the conference and 8-17 overall. Charlie Hodge scored 16 points and Jonah Howard tallied a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Menahga. Hodge also had seven steals while Zach Floyd dished out four assists.
Despite defeating Laporte handily twice during the regular season, Nevis head coach Bradley Neyens expected a close game when these Northwoods Conference rivals met in the first round of the Section 5A North girls basketball playoffs Monday night at the Tiger Arena. Laporte, the No. 10 seed, gave the No. 7-seeded Tigers a battle before Nevis prevailed with a 61-49 victory.
Micah Pocernich hit five 3-pointers and scored 24 points in leading Cromwell-Wright to a 55-49 overtime victory over the Nevis boys basketball team in a battle of the top teams in the Section 5A North standings Friday night at the Tiger Arena. Cameron Calhoon added 12 points and five blocked shots while Jaden Gronner scored 10 points for the Cardinals, who trailed 27-23 at the half. The win lifted Cromwell to 4-0 against section teams and 18-6 overall.
Over the last three seasons, Todd Fritze said he was happy with the performance of the Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team at the Section 5A meet. Happy, but not satisfied. The Panthers' head coach had to be satisfied with this year's effort. Park Rapids once again peaked at the Section 5A meet. Three years ago, the Panthers sent one diver and two swimmers to the state Class A meet. Two seasons ago, the Panthers advanced one diver, three swimmers and one relay team to state. Last season, the Panthers qualified one diver, three swimmers and two relay teams for state.
Ashton Clark continued on his mission of becoming a state champion with an undefeated record.
It's been a memorable senior year for Nevis' Dillon McGee and Kyle Schmidt. Last fall, that duo helped lead the Tigers to the state 9-man football championship game. On Friday night at Cass Lake, that duo earned trips to the state Class A wrestling tournament.