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Wrestling: Park Rapids looking forward to an interesting season

Nine girls add to the program as the Panthers look to put a competitive team on the mat.

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Leading the 2022-23 Park Rapids wrestling team this season are seniors (front from left) Mickey Clark, Leryangies Trinidad, Aleka London; (back) Lucas Kritzeck, Robby Sherk, Gabriel Scholz.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise
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Head coach Matt Clark says this should be a unique year for the Park Rapids wrestling team.

In addition to having 23 boys on the roster, there are nine girls who will be competing on the mats this winter.

“It’s going to be an interesting season,” said Clark. “We have a great group of kids. Hopefully the boys can pull out a .500 record and hopefully the girls will learn some wrestling and find some success along the way.”

With the return of 10 veteran wrestlers, Clark is counting on the Panthers to put a competitive team on the mat.

Nine wrestlers return who competed at last year’s Section 8AA tournament. Topping that list is senior Robby Sherk, who capped off the season by earning runner-up honors at 106 pounds to earn his first trip to the state tournament. Sherk went 2-2 in his state debut to finish the season with a 41-6 record and 37 pins to raise his career mark to 81-21 with 67 pins. Sherk received Mid-State Conference honors and enters the season rated No. 3 at 103 pounds in the state Class AA poll.

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Also placing at last year’s section tournament were junior Henry Thorson, sophomores D’Andre Johnson and Aiden Maanum, and freshman Wrigley Clark. Thorson finished fifth at 126 and went 24-15 with 12 pins, Johnson placed sixth at 220 and posted a 14-21 record with eight pins, Maanum finished with a 25-12 record with 11 pins after placing fourth at 113, and Clark finished fourth at 120 to cap off a 27-7 season with 15 pins. Clark also received all-conference honors.

Also back after competing at the section tournament a year ago are sophomores Jarrett Galzki (who wrestled at 132), freshman Cooper Ackerman (at 138), freshman Andy Johanning (at 145) and eighth grader Cooper Darchuk (at 170). Galzki finished with an 11-25 record with four pins, Ackerman had a 1-2 record with one pin, Johanning posted an 8-23 record with five pins, and Darchuk went 7-5 with three pins.

Senior Lucas Kritzeck, who missed the end of the season with an injury, compiled a 23-4 record with 18 pins in the middle weights to raise his career record to 88-53 with 60 pins.

The other returning varsity wrestlers from last year’s team that posted an 11-15 record in dual meets, received the No. 5 seed in the East for the Section 8AA tournament and lost to No. 4 Albany 54-24 in the first round are sophomore Castle London (0-4 record at 106) and freshman Heath Safratowich (1-0 record at 106).

Two seniors from last year’s team graduated, leaving two key spots to fill. Tristan Hill earned all-conference honors after going 18-10 with five pins at 195, 220 and 285 while Kaleb Stearns had a 13-14 record with eight pins at 126 in his first year wrestling. Both missed the section tournament with injuries.

Rounding out the varsity and junior varsity roster are senior Gabriel Scholz; sophomores Peter Carroll, Jaydon Hafner and Henry Johnson; freshmen Alex Holmer and Corbin Schiller; eighth grader Leo Kueber; and seventh graders Dominic Brissett, Brayden Greeno, Charlie Johnson and Alexander Sanchez.

Last season, Mickey Clark was the lone girl who competed in wrestling.

This season, the Panthers have started to build a solid program with eight other girls eager to hit the mats.

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In addition to Clark, fellow seniors Aleka London and Leryangies Trinidad; sophomores Aracely Gutierrez, Destiny Haddy, Brooke Kritzeck and Kyla Mercil; and freshmen Marley Sherva and Jadyn Sherk will primarily wrestle junior varsity, but could fill in during varsity matches and will compete in girls-only tournaments in preparing to qualify for the girls state tournament.

Thief River Falls (the No. 1 seed in the West) defeated Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus (the No. 1 seed in the East) 36-33 in last year’s Section 8AA championship match. PLPRB is rated No. 8 and Thief River Falls is rated No. 11 in the preseason Class AA poll.

“The girls are doing well in practice. All of them are first-year wrestlers who will be wrestling a lot of other first-year wrestlers. The girls are entering uncharted territory. It should be interesting,” said Clark, who will be assisted by Jeff Dravis. “We have wrestlers with varsity experience from 106 to 170 and at heavyweight. We have a lot of promise. I think we can be very competitive.”

SEASON SCHEDULE

Dec. 1 – vs. Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena, United North Central at Menahga, 5 p.m. Dec. 6 – vs. Virginia, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis at Century School gym, 5 p.m. Dec. 10 – at Crookston Invitational, 9 a.m. Dec. 16 – at Pequot Lakes Invitational, 4 p.m. Dec. 17 – at Pequot Lakes Invitational, 9 a.m. Dec. 17 – at Bemidji Invitational (Girls only), 12 noon. Dec. 20 – vs. Alexandria, Thief River Falls at Century School gym, 5 p.m. Dec. 22 – at Barnesville, 6 p.m.

Jan. 5 – vs. United Clay Becker, Roseau at Area High School gym, 5 p.m. Jan. 6 – vs. Pine City at Pierz, 5 p.m. Jan. 7 – at Ogilvie Invitational, 11 a.m. Jan. 14 – at Moorhead Invitational, 10 a.m. Jan. 17 – vs. Fertile-Beltrami, New York Mills at Area High School gym, 5 p.m. Jan. 20 – Mid-State Conference tournament at Detroit Lakes, 1 p.m. Jan. 24 – vs. Crosby-Ironton, Wadena-Deer Creek at Century School gym, 5 p.m.

Feb. 2 – at Frazee, 5 p.m. Feb. 7 – vs. Fosston/Bagley, Mahnomen at Century School gym, 5 p.m.

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The Panthers fall to 8-12 with losses to Minnewaska Area and Frazee.

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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