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Chris Murphy, Published February 27 2014

Moorhead wrestling finishes fifth for the second year in a row

ST. PAUL – Simply being invited to the party is no longer good enough for Moorhead’s wrestling team. They want to bring the punch.

“Our guys just don’t want to wrestle two duals and get out of here and just go to the state tournament,” Moorhead coach Skip Toops said. “We want to show we belong. We want to make people in the state start to know that there’s tough wrestling going on in Moorhead.”

A couple of trophies should do the trick.

Thanks to a 30-26 win over Willmar in the fifth-place match Thursday at the Minnesota Class 3A state tournament, Moorhead will be bringing home some hardware from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for the second year in a row.

“This is great for us,” Moorhead 182-pound freshman Samuel Grove said. “Actually, this is huge.”

The unfamiliar sound of the name Moorhead announced at the Xcel Energy Center for state wrestling is something fans may have to get accustomed to.

“We came into that match the underdog, but we’ve been overlooked all year, and we don’t care about that,” Toops said. “We go out there and we fight hard for six minutes.”

Moorhead needed every minute and every point of every match. After a pin from Kenny Mark, the Spuds went up 15-3. Willmar, which lost to Moorhead last season in the fifth-place dual, answered with two decisions, two major decisions and a pin to take a 23-15 lead with four weight classes remaining.

The Spuds responded and shut the door.

A pin from Grove cut the lead to 23-21, senior Ryan Schock’s pin gave Moorhead a 27-23 lead and sophomore Brody Jerome’s 8-3 decision clinched fifth place for the Spuds.

“We came up with upsets, we got bonus points, we got sticks when we needed them, we had seniors being seniors, and we had a whole team coming together,” Toops said. “Coming down is great, but our goal is to bring a trophy back each year.”

Jerome moved to Moorhead last year when the Spuds punched a ticket to state for the first time as a team since 1981. He showed up to a new town just in time to help start a new tradition at Moorhead.

“Everyone has their weaknesses and you show them throughout the matches, but whoever can pull back from the weaknesses the fastest with the best mindset after them will come out on top,” Jerome said. “Last year was a ride, and we just kind of kept the wind in our sails and kept cruising. This is a huge step forward. It’s been amazing to see what everyone can do and how we do it.”

Moorhead opened the tournament getting rolled by No. 2-seeded St. Michael-Albertville 46-12. The Spuds answered by doing some rolling themselves, knocking off Tartan 39-22 to head to the fifth-place match to face a Willmar team that wanted redemption for last season’s loss.

“We figured we’d get (Willmar),” Toops said. “They wanted to beat us. They didn’t lose as many kids as we did from last year, but we reloaded.”

With just four seniors on the Moorhead roster, the Spuds could start making St. Paul their second home.

“Great experience for our kids and great experience for Moorhead wrestling,” Toops said. “Now, it’s something to keep building on.”

Championship quarterfinals

St. Michael-Albertville 46, Moorhead 12

106: Dick, S, dec. 11-3, Brendemuhl

113: Dehmer, S, dec. (OT), 4-2, Tallakson

120: McKee, S, pin, 0:49, Erickson

132: Thorn, S, dec., 12-2, Laidlaw

138: Leuer, S, dec., 5-1, K. Mark

145: Voss, S, technical fall, Olson

152: Jeske, S, pin, 2:00, Current

160: Zachman, S, dec. 8-2, Trowbridge

170: Grove, M, dec., 7-0, Foster

182: Ryan Schock, M, dec., 8-2, Jones

195: Briggs, S, pin, 1:35, Ben Lien

220: Jerome, M, pin, 1:00, Puett

285: Anderson, S, dec., 5-1, Edner

Consolation semifinals

Moorhead 39, Tartan 22

106: Brendemuhl, M, pin, 0:35, Froemel 6-0

113: Tallakson, M, technical fall, Mirtica 11-0

120: Riley Schock, M, dec., 11-0, Johnson 15-0

126: Sollid, M, dec., 14-5, Taylor 19-0

132: K. Mark, M, pin, 4:47, Gilson 25-0

138: Jack Lien, M, dec., 6-5, Olson 28-0

145: Hanson, M, dec., 7-2, Floyd 31-0

152: Burg, T, dec., 14-5, Olson M 31-4

160: J. Grove, M, dec. 8-4, Wallisch T 34-4

170: S. Grove, M, pin, 1:55, Garcia 40-4

182: McGeehan T, dec., 5-3, Schock 40-7

195: Ohara, T, pin, 1:18, J. Mark 39-13

220: Paulson T, dec., 10-9, Jerome. 39-16

285: Telin, T, pin, 1:28, Edner

Fifth-place dual

Moorhead 30, Willmar 26

106: Brendemuhl, M, dec., 7-4, Carlson

113: Tallakson, M, dec., 9-8, Bollig

120: Riley Schock, M, dec., 5-4, Resendez

126: Miley, W, dec., 7-3, Sollid

132: K. Mark, M, pin, 2:34, Walkow

138: Lueders W, dec. 7-6, Jake Lien

145: Navarro, W, pin, 3:35, Hanson

152: Deegan, W, dec., 13-5, Olson

160: Carlsonen, W, dec., 10-3 Trowbridge

170: Johnson, W, dec. 12-6, J. Grove

182: Grove, M, pin, 2:50, Welgraven

195: Ryan Schock, M, pin, 0:54, Cabrera

220: Jerome, M, dec., 8-3, Hennes

285: Richards, W, dec., 8-6, Edner

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548