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PREP WRESTLING: Red Lake County Central sends high percentage of wrestlers to tournament

With low numbers on its roster, Red Lake County Central is sending a high percentage of its wrestlers to the Minnesota state tournament.

Senior Jake Magnell and junior Cameron Lundeen qualified for the state meet, which begins Thursday in the Twin Cities, after both had runner-up finishes in the Section 8A meet. They are two of only 12 members of the RLCC team.

“We’ve had some down years as far as numbers,” RLCC coach Aaron Nelson said. “We’ve had some good individuals. But this is the first time in three years that I’ve even had any seniors in the weight room.

“We’re pretty excited to get two guys to state. It’s been awhile.”

The last time Red Lake County Central had two state qualifiers was in the 2003-04 season. The program had gone four straight seasons without anybody advancing to state until Magnell qualified last season.

Even with the low numbers in the practice room, Magnell and Lundeen benefited from strong practice partners. Magnell, who has more than 125 career wins, wrestles at 152 pounds. Lundeen is at 160.

“They’re partners every day,” Nelson said. “They’re good friends. But they really push each other every day. They never take a break.

“Jake has been a very good wrestler for several years. Cameron has really improved in the last few seasons, and a big reason for that is wrestling with Jake every day. They have two different styles. Cameron is more of a technical wrestler. Jake likes to muscle kids around more.”

Young Gators

Greenbush-Middle River-Badger has five state qualifiers; none of the five is a senior.

“This is the first time in my 11 years as coach here that I don’t have at least one senior going to state,” said Gators coach Todd Bergeron, who has only two seniors in the program this season.

“It does look good for our future.”

Three Pirates with 150

For only the second time in the history of the Crookston wrestling program, the Pirates have three wrestlers with more than 150 career wins going to the state tournament.

Blake Bergeron, Cody Weiland and Nate Merten all have hit that milestone.

“I believe they all can place high,” Pirates coach Chad Hitchen said. “This is the third trip to state for Nate and Blake and the second for Cody. They all have experience.

“But you have to be ready at state. Anybody can knock off anybody.”

Low rankings

Area wrestlers didn’t garner a lot of attention in the final Minnesota state rankings, which were released last Friday.

Crookston’s Blake Bergeron (fifth in Class A at 160) is the highest-ranked area wrestler. Other top-eight ranked wrestlers are Thief River Falls’ Stephen Holecek (sixth in AA 126), Crookston’s Cody Weiland (sixth in A 126), Fertile-Beltrami’s Willie Meine (seventh in A 106), Crookston’s Nate Merten (seventh in A 138), Greenbush-Middle River-Badger’s Wyatt Becker (eighth in A 120) and Fosston-Bagley’s Alexi Bode (eighth in AA 145).

“We don’t always get respect up here in this part of the state,” G-MR-B coach Todd Bergeron said. “We don’t get to the big tournaments during the season that get more exposure. It always seems to be this way.”

Said Crookston coach Chad Hitchen: “Some years you have some standouts, some years you don’t. It cycles around. We definitely have some quality wrestlers this year.”