Wrestling: Mickey Clark finishes fourth at first section girls tournament
The Park Rapids junior goes 2-2 in the 107-pound bracket.
SARTELL – When Mickey Clark heard that the Minnesota State High School League was going to sanction a state tournament for girls wrestling for the 2021-22 season, she didn’t hesitate to sign up.
It was almost destined that Clark would become the first female wrestler for Park Rapids.
With her dad Matt serving as the head coach of the Park Rapids wrestling team and having all three siblings (older brother Ashton and younger brothers Wrigley and Cooper) competing in wrestling, it wasn’t a surprise that Mickey would join that family tradition.
The only problem was finding the time to practice since she was also a starter on the Park Rapids girls basketball team.
“As soon as she found out there was going to be a girls tournament, she was like ‘sign me up,’” said Matt Clark. “She never made one high school practice because of basketball. All of her practices were on the living room floor with her brother (Wrigley) and her dad. Most of these practices ended up with rug burns.”
“I decided I was going to do both basketball and wrestling when I found out that there was going to be a girls section tournament. I also found out that I was going to be the first Park Rapids female wrestler and I thought that would be pretty cool,” said Mickey Clark. “Being the first female wrestler hopefully will encourage other females to try this sport or even another sport if they are interested. It would be so amazing to see more females go out for wrestling and maybe even starting a team.”
During the regular season, the Park Rapids junior posted a 6-5 record with two pins competing at the junior varsity level. Of the 11 matches, 10 were against boys.
“It was and still is a pretty tough concept to learn all of the techniques. I still learn something every single match I wrestle. My dad and brothers also taught me some very basic moves just so I had something under my belt. Finding the time to practice was very difficult. I would go from basketball practice ending at 5:30 p.m. to then going home and wrestling my dad and brothers on the living room floor,” said Mickey Clark. “During my JV matches I was just looking to have fun and to learn. Every JV match I got was always a learning experience. It was great that I got to wrestle some tough JV wrestlers. They really prepared me for the section tournament.”
With no varsity matches, Clark received the No. 8 seed in the 107-pound division for the inaugural Section 5-8 tournament. Despite competing against more experienced wrestlers, Clark finished fourth in the eight-wrestler field in her section debut.
Clark drew the No. 1 seed for her first match at Sartell High School on Saturday, Feb. 19. Forest Lake’s Aspen Blasko used a takedown and a nearfall to set up a pin in 54 seconds to advance to the semifinals and send Clark into the wrestlebacks.
The Park Rapids junior won her next two matches, pinning No. 4-seeded Kiera Hagman of Bemidji in 5:35 and posting a 13-4 major decision over No. 3 Chloe Wehry of Sartell-St. Stephen. Clark built an 11-2 lead against Hagman with two takedowns in the first period, a reversal in the second period, and a takedown and nearfall in the third period before recording the pin. In the win over Wehry, a takedown and a nearfall provided a 5-0 lead after the first period while a takedown made it 7-2 after the second period. An escape, a takedown, a nearfall and another escape concluded the scoring in the third period.
Anoka’s Sianne Mader, the No. 5 seed, pinned Clark in 1:00 in the third-place match as the Park Rapids junior ended her season with a 2-2 record. Mader earned a chance to wrestle for runner-up honors when Fridley’s Olivia Sackor lost to Blasko 16-0 in the title match. Sackor, the No. 2 seed, defeated Mader 8-7 in the true-second match to earn the other state berth. Wehry pinned Mora’s Molly Holmgren in the fifth-place match. Blasko improved to 32-9, Sackor improved to 20-10 and Mader finished at 10-16. Hagman ended at 7-9, Wehry finished at 15-15 and Holmgren ended at 1-10. The other wrestler at 107 was No. 6 Emma Platt of Hibbing (1-6). In all, there were 64 wrestlers competing in the 10 weight classes.
“I was very surprised with the success I had with such little practice. I thought it was pretty cool that I was winning some JV matches without barely ever practicing and without having much wrestling conditioning,” said Mickey Clark. “My expectations going into the section tournament were to just have fun and work hard.”
“I thought she would be fine going into the first girls-only tournament because she is a tough competitor. Being tough in wrestling can take you a long way. I think she wrestled well. In the matches she lost, she just got into some positions that were new to her and she really did not know what to do. Every girl she wrestled was from a AAA school and I am sure they all had more training and composition than Mickey,” said Matt Clark. “Ashton coached her and played a big part of her getting ready for her events. One of the reasons she did so well is she has been in gyms watching her brother compete her whole life. It was fun to watch.”
After learning the ropes in her first season, Clark is looking forward to having even more success during her senior season.
“I think her plan is to wrestle this spring and summer (at the Northwest Freestyle Club) to get ready for her final season,” said Matt Clark. “Female wrestling is on the rise. I really hope this opens some eyes of other girls to give wrestling a chance.”
“I wish I could have gone a little further, but it just gives me more motivation to work hard this summer and next season so I can hopefully make it further next year,” said Mickey Clark. “This year was definitely a learning experience and I know more what to expect for next year.”