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Published January 06 2011

Clark: Early season loss motivates Frazee's wrestling team

Wrestling season can get long. So Frazee coach John Barlund created some challenges for his team.

One of those challenges was how to grapple with perseverance. For those not familiar with wrestling, just know Frazee has been good.

This is a team that finished second at state last year and only lost one kid. So forgive them if losing a meet in December was a bit jarring.

“You know, it was good in a way,” said Barlund, who has run the program for the last six years. “Losing was a storm that came along and we had to rebound from it.”

Frazee did just that by finishing 15 points out of the Top 5 at the Rumble on the Red wrestling tournament last week at the Fargodome.

Senior Cody Sorenson, who’s been Frazee’s anchor the last few years, won the tournament’s 189-pound division.

Barlund said Sorenson has been important because he’s found a way to deliver on multiple occasions. He added Sorenson is looking at wrestling in college but for now, things are still up in the air.

Then there’s senior Tanner Ellenberg, who wrestles in the 125-pound weight class. If Sorenson is Frazee’s anchor, Ellenberg could be its most consistent wrestler.

He won more than 40 matches last year and has only lost two this season.

“The younger kids just see how hard they work,” Barlund said about Ellenberg and Sorenson. “What they see from them is what we’ve been achieving over the years and how to maintain that.”

Advancing to state for the last five straight years shows Frazee knows all about success. Like Barlund said, this year has been about how to handle adversity.

Slipping in the AP polls isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not fun when you open the season No. 2 and now you’re fifth.

“There have been years where we’ve been ranked as low as 10th and gone to state,” Barlund said. “Our kids have confidence because this is a place we’ve been before.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548 or at rclark@forumcomm.com