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Kerry Collins, Published March 07 2009

Minnesota state wrestling: Pelican Rapids' Evenson upsets No. 1 seed to reach finals

ST. PAUL – Pelican Rapids’ McKale Evenson had a hard time deciding which weight class he wanted to wrestle at to qualify for the state meet.

His father gave him some advice. As usual, father knew best.

Wrestling in the 215-pound semifinals at Xcel Energy Center, Evenson took down top-ranked Brad Kneisl of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg with a 6-2 decision on Friday to make it to today’s championship match.

“He told me to go to 215, and to come down here and eat whatever I wanted to and not worry about it,” said Evenson, who is ranked fourth at 189. “That sounded good to me.”

Evenson had bounced back and forth between 189 and 215 all year, and the win over Kneisl had the Vikings senior brimming with confidence. Kneisl had pinned his first two opponents in the state tournament.

“When I got the first takedown, that was a boost,” Evenson said. “It’s always good for the confidence to beat a physical wrestler like that.”

West Central Area’s Jake Long also took down a top-ranked wrestler, beating Yellow Medicine East’s Casey Field with an 8-5 decision at 140.

Long went from nearly pinning Field, to nearly getting pinned, to getting a late escape and takedown to win.

“I was a little worried, but I was able to get out of there,” Long said. “This is something I always dreamed about since I was a little kid.”

Three New York Mills wrestlers made it into the Class 1A semifinals, and all three found themselves against top seeds.

Jordan Novak was the only one that will be wrestling for a title. Novak dumped Minneota’s Sam Dernyck for a 7-2 decision.

Shane Novak lost to Hayden Zillmer of Crosby-Ironton at 103, and Myrone Bell lost to Kenyon-Wanamingo’s Drew Lexvold at 125. Both Shane Novak and Bell are just eighth-graders.

“Mentally, I just put the rankings out of my mind and went in thinking I could beat anybody,” Jordan Novak said. “And this was a big tournament for all of us.

“I don’t think people expected Shane and Myrone to win, but they beat up some pretty good kids.”

Wychor, Johnson come up short

Moorhead’s Mark Wychor and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton’s Shawn Johnson both lost their semifinal matchups.

Wychor lost a 4-3 decision to Maple Grove’s Joseph Borchardt at 215 in Class 3A, and Johnson dropped a 14-9 decision to Benson’s Ryan Thompson at 145 in Class 2A.

Fergus Falls’ Campion advances

Josh Campion lost in overtime in the semifinals of last year’s state wrestling tournament. He made sure things didn’t get that far this year.

The Fergus Falls senior pinned Simley’s Charlie Gelhaye in 4 minutes, 47 seconds to move on to the 285-pound finals in Class 2A.

The Otters’ 215-pounder wasn’t as fortunate, as Colton Thorson dropped a 7-3 decision to New Ulm’s Pat Brinkman in the semifinals.


On the team side, Frazee won its Class 1A consolation semifinal, blasting Royalton-Upsala 49-15. Perham lost a 27-26 decision to Mora in the Class 2A consolation semifinals. … Former Moorhead wrestler Justin LaValle made it to the 130-pound title match for the second year in a row. He won the title in that class last year after transferring to Apple Valley. He is 47-0 this year. … At 171, both Tyler Wilson of Pelican Rapids and Frazee’s Cody Nunn lost their semifinal matches.


Class 3A


Borchardt, Maple Grove, dec. Wychor, Moorhead, 4-3.

Class 2A


Suparat, North Branch, dec. Harrison, Pequot Lakes-PRB, 6-5.


Brinkman, New Ulm, dec. Thorson, Fergus Falls, 7-3.


Campion, Fergus Falls, pin Gelhaye, Simley, 4:47.

Class 1A


Zillmer, Crosby-Ironton, dec. S. Novak, New York Mills, 8-1.


D. Lexvold, Kenyon-Wanamingo, dec. Bell, New York Mills, 13-0.


J. Novak, New York Mills, dec. Dernyck, Minneota, 7-2.


Long, West Central Area, dec. Field, Yellow Medicine East, 8-5.


Thompson, Benson, dec. Johnson, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 14-9.


Tibbetts, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, dec. Braaten, Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale, 3-2, OT.


McPhail, Pine Island, dec. Nunn, Frazee, 4-3. Hagen, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, dec. Wilson, Pelican Rapids, 12-6.


Evenson, Pelican Rapids, dec. Kneisl, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, 6-2.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins’ blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com