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Wrestling: Park Rapids state qualifiers battled to earn trips to St. Paul

Robby Sherk, Aiden Maanum and Lucas Kritzeck will look to reach the podium at the Class AA tournament.

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Robby Sherk pinned all three of his opponents in winning the Section 8AA title at 106 pounds to qualify for the 2023 state Class AA tournament.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

PARK RAPIDS – For seniors Robby Sherk and Lucas Kritzeck, earning a trip to the state Class AA wrestling tournament was their main focus this season.

For sophomore Aiden Maanum, qualifying for state was a chance to gain valuable experience for the next two seasons.

All three earned state berths during the Section 8AA tournament at Detroit Lakes on Feb. 25.

Sherk entered as the No. 1 seed and rated No. 3 in the state at 106 pounds and coasted to the title by pinning Thief River Falls’ Damien Kazmierczak in 40 seconds in the quarterfinals, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton’s Kayleb Kosen in 33 seconds in the semifinals and Alexandria’s Nolan Fettig in 1:18 in the championship match. Fettig was the No. 2 seed and rated No. 6 in the state poll.

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Three Park Rapids wrestlers - (from left) Aiden Maanum, Robby Sherk and Lucas Kritzeck - earned trips to the 2023 state Class AA wrestling tournament.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

“It was a very big goal (to get back to state),” said Sherk, who qualified for state at 106 last season. “I met my expectations.”

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Kritzeck had a tougher time qualifying for his first state tournament.

After reaching the finals at 160 by pinning D-G-F’s Joey Arends in 3:53 in the quarterfinals and PLPRB’s Earl Stockman in 3:07 in the semifinals, the No. 2-seeded Kritzeck was pinned by Thief River Falls’ Griffin Lundeen in 2:42 in the championship match. Lundeen was the No. 1 seed and rated No. 1 in the state with a 45-0 record.

After that loss, Kritzeck had to wrestle in a true-second match against Detroit Lakes’ Brock Swiers. Kritzeck claimed a 5-0 lead with a takedown in the first period and an escape and a takedown in the second period. Swiers rallied with a reversal to end the second period and used an escape and a takeown with :03 remaining in the third period to force overtime. A takedown in the extra session sent Kritzeck to state.

“Going to state was the main thing for me this year. I didn’t want to think about anything else except going to state,” said Kritzeck. “I took some losses this year, but I wrestled some tough dudes. After I lost in the finals, I had to be ready for the next one. I knew what was on the line. I had beat him (Swiers) twice earlier this year, so I was confident I was going to state. I was very nervous, but also very confident I could win that match. I was a little lazy in the third period. I was wrestling really defensive. In overtime, I knew I was better on my feet and I had to shoot before he did. That could have been my last match, but I got it done. I was so relieved after I won. All the pressure was lifted off me.”

Maanum qualified for his first state tournament by winning his first two matches. Entering as the No. 3 seed, the Park Rapids sophomore knew he had to win his semifinal match to earn a state trip. After posting a 3-1 decision over Albany’s Nathan Kollmann in the quarterfinals, Maanum pinned No. 2-seeded Nick Svir of Thief River Falls in 4:30 to reach the finals. Maanum received a penalty point and had an escape in the second period for a 2-0 lead before a takedown set up his pin.

In the finals, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus’ Parker Zutter pinned Maanum in 5:23. Maanum avoided a true-second match when Svir finished third. Zutter was the No. 1 seed and rated No. 3 in the state.

“I really wanted it. I worked hard all season for it,” said Maanum. “I knew I had to beat (Svir) to get to state. I lost to him before, but I didn’t wrestle well in that match and I knew that I could beat him. I was so relieved I won that match and didn’t have to wrestle for true second.”

All three wrestlers will face tough challenges during Day 1 at state. Sherk received the No. 2 seed and will enter state with a 30-1 record. Maanum will make his state debut with a 22-11 mark while Kritzeck will carry a 27-6 record into his first state match.

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The state Class AA tournament begins on Friday (March 3) and concludes on Saturday (March 4) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

“I’m going to do my best,” said Maanum. “I’d like to win at least one match. It’s going to be good experience.”

“I’m going to take it one match at a time,” said Kritzeck. “I’m hoping to make the podium. I have the ability. As long as I wrestle my match and wrestle my best, I think I’m capable of reaching the podium.”

“I wrestled some high level matches in the offseason. Not having many long matches during the high school season won’t affect me. I’m not worried about my stamina. I have the experience and I know what it takes. I have the heart and I know what is on the line,” said Sherk, who has had only three matches all season go into the third period. “I’ve been shooting for top 3 in the state since the beginning of the year. I’m hoping to win my first two matches and make it to the finals. If not, I want to come back and take third. I’ve got to have two good days and wrestle my best. If I wrestle the way I can, things will go well. I’m confident in my abilities. We’ll see what happens.”

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