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17.Park Rapids won on the road while Menahga won at home in section girls basketball action Thursday night. Park Rapids, the No. 10 seed in Section 8AA, defeated No. 7 Pelican Rapids 86-69 to advance. The Panthers, who defeated Pelican Rapids 58-37 during the regular season, will play No. 2 Staples-Motley Saturday afternoon at 4:30 at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Staples-Motley eliminated No. 15 Bagley 80-21 Thursday night.
Park Rapids sophomore Spencer Fritze advanced to the finals in diving after Thursday's first two rounds of the state Class A meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Fritze sits in fifth place after eight dives with 248.05 points. Northfield's Jack Cuddy leads the pack with 308.05 points while Simley's Ebenezer Ojo is in second place with 305.65 points. Detroit Lakes' Zane Freeman is in third place with 266.30 points and Breck/Blake's Davis Harrington is fourth with 255.30 points.
Menahga used a 14-2 run in the first half to take the lead for good in a 71-66 girls basketball win over Park Rapids in the regular-season finale for both teams Thursday night at Menahga. Jumpers by Jaiden McCollum, Megan Jewison and Rilee Michaelson, a 3-pointer by Macky Warne and a basket off a rebound by McCollum gave Park Rapids a 13-10 lead with 13:09 to play in the first half. Lindsay Hendrickson, Cierra Ahlf and Megan Hendrickson had layups and Ahlf hit a 3-pointer for the Braves.
Entering Friday's Section 8A tournament at Glyndon, six Park Rapids wrestlers were rated in the state Class A poll. Following Saturday's section finals, all six managed to qualify for the state Class A tournament. Seniors Jared Sunram and Justin Dravis and sophomores Ashton Clark and Cody Dravis won titles while seniors Nolan Booge and Jacob Bittmann prevailed in true-second matches to advance to state. The six individual state qualifiers are the most in school history.
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis' Dillon McGee earned a return trip to the state Class A wrestling tournament after winning the title at 113 pounds at Saturday's Section 7A tournament at Cass Lake. McGee pinned Hayden McGowan of Crosby-Ironton in 2:22 in the quarterfinals and defeated Marshall Michienzi of Deer River 4-2 in the semifinals to advance to the championship match. McGee then pinned Mille Lacs' Jorden Burow in 1:23 to win the section title.
The Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team continues to move up at the Section 5A meet. Two years ago, the Panthers qualified one diver and two swimmers for the state Class A meet. Last year, the Panthers advanced one diver, three swimmers and one relay to state while placing sixth with 208 points.
Several area wrestlers received tough draws to open the state Class A wrestling tournament. Park Rapids' Ashton Clark (36-2), the No. 1-ranked wrestler at 106 pounds, opens against Pipestone's Grant Budden when the state tournament begins Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Budden is 36-6 and rated No. 3 in the state. Clark is the No. 1 seed at 106. Nevis' Dillon McGee, who is 26-8 and rated No. 8 at 113, opens against ACGC's Hayden Straumann (24-10). Kenyon-Wanamingo's Jeron Matson (38-1) is the top-rated wrestler at that weight.
Nevis received the No. 8 seed in the North half and will host No. 9 Bertha-Hewitt Monday night at 7 as the Section 5A girls basketball playoffs begin. Both teams enter the playoffs with 4-20 records. The winner travels to No. 1 Cromwell (21-4) Thursday night for a 7 p.m. tip-off in the next round. Menahga (21-5) received the No. 2 seed and will host the winner between No. 7 McGregor (13-13) and No. 10 Laporte (2-23) Thursday night at 7 in another Section 5A North playoff game.
The Park Rapids boys swimming and diving team will be represented by six individuals in six events at the state Class A meet. Juniors Casimir Simonson, Zach Behrens and Matthew Benson and sophomore Spencer Fritze began Saturday's Section 5A finals at Bemidji by placing fourth in the 200-yard medley relay with a state-cut time of 1:42.10. The state-qualifying time is a 1:44.20. Benson followed by placing third in the 200 freestyle in 1:52.48 and Fritze advanced by placing third in the 50 freestyle in 22.86 and as the runner-up in diving with 436.05 points.
Six Park Rapids wrestlers qualified for the state Class A tournament by placing first or second at Saturday's Section 8A meet at Glyndon. Seniors Jared Sunram and Justin Dravis and sophomores Ashton Clark and Cody Dravis captured section titles while seniors Nolan Booge and Jacob Bittmann advanced by winning true-second matches. Clark, Booge, Sunram and the Dravis brothers will return to state while Bittmann earned his first state trip.