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PREP WRESTLING: G-MR-B wrestlers looking for another title at Minnesota Class A tournament

Isaac Novacek and Alex Yeager each have one Minnesota high school wrestling championship to his credit. But the teammates never match up in the practice room.

Prep wrestling tourneys

Isaac Novacek and Alex Yeager each have one Minnesota high school wrestling championship to his credit. But the teammates never match up in the practice room.

"I'll tell him sometimes, 'I can take you,' '' Novacek said. "We like to joke around. But we've never wrestled. I don't want to get hurt. He's too big."

There's a big weight gap between the Greenbush-Middle River-Badger senior standouts. Novacek competes at 120 pounds; the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Yeager is more than twice Novacek's weight and competes at 285. They also differ in style. Novacek is a technician and point producer, while Yeager wins with power and pins.

But they're similar in success. Yeager will be trying to retain a championship and Novacek will attempt to regain a title at the Minnesota state high school wrestling tournament, which runs Thursday through Saturday in the Twin Cities. Competition begins Thursday with the Gators competing in the Class A dual tournament.

Novacek finished third at state last season after winning a championship as a sophomore. Yeager, a state runner-up as a sophomore, now will try for a second straight title at 285.

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"They're guys you can count on for wins," G-MR-B coach Todd Bergeron said. "It's almost to the point where you expect them to win after all the success they've had. They both have natural ability, and they've also worked hard to get better."

Novacek and Yeager have made their marks in the tradition-rich Gators program. Novacek is 39-0 with 113 takedowns. He has a 182-31 career record. Yeager is 33-2 with 26 pins; for his career he's 156-39 with 136 pins. Both are in the top five on the G-MR-B career win list.

"We have two very different styles,'' Novacek said. "I like to wrestle on my feet, always going for the takedowns. He's a master on top, always going for pins. When he's on the mat, I watch him, seeing how he's going through his moves, trying to pick up anything.''

Yeager developed into a pinner out of necessity.

"Isaac has the speed. I have the strength,'' Yeager said. "When I was younger, I always seemed to be behind in matches. The only way I could win was to pin, so I'd work for it, focusing more on working on the top and turning people over. And it's gone from there.

"I love to watch Isaac wrestle, to see him shooting for takedowns all the time. But I can't use the moves like he does because I have more weight.''

Bergeron said both Novacek and Yeager could face their stiffest tests before the championship round.

Novacek is in the same bracket at 120 as Mitchel Lexvold, a senior at Kenyon-Wanamingo who is 42-1 and a returning state champion. Lexvold is first and Novacek second in the final state rankings. Yeager is the top-ranked 285-pounder, with the No. 2-ranked junior Colin Turchin (37-1) of Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale also in his bracket.

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The Gator classmates will be pulling for each other.

"There isn't a rivalry between us,'' Novacek said. "We used to tell each other, way back when, stuff like, 'I'm going to win state before you do.' We've both accomplished that. Now we want to see each other win another one.''

The Gators also have a top-six ranked wrestler in TeJay Wojchowski. The senior is 32-4 and No. 6 at 170. Wojchowski is three wins shy of 100 for his career.

Other area state qualifiers who were in the top six in the final state rankings include:

โ€ข Holden Nelson, Thief River Falls: The junior is ranked third in Class AA 160 pounds. Nelson is 39-2.

โ€ข Garret Hoffner, Mahnomen-Waubun: The junior is ranked third in Class A 145 pounds. Hoffner is 38-0.

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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