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Chris Murphy, Published February 28 2013

Perham falls in Class 2A wrestling quarterfinals, finish 6th

ST. PAUL – Perham sophomore heavyweight Jesse Bucholz wasn’t sure what his record was, but he knew it was bad.

“I think it’s 6-22 or 7-22,” Bucholz said. “I don’t know.”

Thursday, at the Xcel Energy Center in the Minnesota Class 2A consolation semifinals for the state team wrestling tournament, it didn’t matter what his record was. With Perham up 27-25 on Adrian Area, a spot in the fifth-place dual came down to Bucholz.

Bucholz’s fingernails were nearly chewed down to the bone as he watched teammate and 220-pounder Cody Nylander give him a two-point cushion. Needless to say, he would have liked a little less pressure.

“I was so nervous,” Bucholz said. “I was really hoping Cody would pin the guy. I was just trying to feed myself some self-confidence.”

Apparently fingernails are rich in confidence, as Bucholz pinned Adrian Area’s Tony Sieve to lock up a 33-25 win and a spot in the fifth-place dual for Perham. Bucholz thought himself a basketball player three months ago before joining wrestling, which he had only a little experience in during elementary school. Yellowjackets coach Robb Moser would like people to know the hiring process for the wrestling team is not very complex.

“He looked as nervous as a cat in a dog pound,” Moser said. “He came out this year and was a basketball player, and he’s taken some lumps. With heavyweights, it’s either pin or be pinned. An opportunity like this gives you a chance, and he ran with it.”

The state wrestling tournament tends to be vicious. Bucholz was pinned by the No. 4-ranked 285-pounder in Class 2A Jonah Westbury in a 33-30 loss to Chisago Lakes in the consolation championship, as Perham (23-8) finished sixth in the state in Class 2A.

“We didn’t think it was going to come down to 285,” Moser said. “The heavyweights are in a bad position because they are the last ones wrestling. They don’t win or lose a match for you, but they are always the last ones wrestling. That’s wrestling. The little guys put us in a bad spot.”

Although Perham fell in the championship quarterfinals 56-15 to top-seeded Kasson-Mantorville and eventually in the consolation championship, Perham accomplished what they set out to do with the win over Adrian Area.

“We had said before the season started that our goal was to go to the state tournament and we wanted to win,” Moser said. “We didn’t just want to go to the state tournament. A lot of people said we wouldn’t go. It’s been good for our young kids to learn how to win.”

One goal that will have to wait is finishing the season with a win.

“No Perham wrestling team has ever ended with a win,” Moser said. “We’ve had some great teams, but we’ve never ended on a win.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548