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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A solid first half and solid free-throw shooting led the Nevis boys basketball team to a 67-60 win over Red Lake in a battle for first place in the Northland Conference standings Feb. 17 at the Tiger Arena. Nevis jumped out to a 37-24 lead at the half and held on in this game between two of the top Class A teams in the state. The win locked up the conference title for the Tigers.
Lindsay Hendrickson's career-high 28 points powered the Menahga girls basketball team to a 69-44 Park Region Conference win over Wadena-Deer Creek on Feb. 14 at Menahga. Alyssa Peterson added 15 points, Megan Hendrickson scored 11 points and Cierra Ahlf chipped in 10 points as the Braves locked up the conference title with the win. This is Menahga's first conference title since going 12-0 during the 2005-06 season. Kennedy Gravelle's 21 points led the Wolverines, who fell to 3-10 in the conference and 6-18 overall.