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Raiders gearing up for state battle with Frazee

The unranked Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale Raiders will face No. 2 ranked Frazee Thursday as the two clubs open competition in the Class A state team wrestling tournament at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

The 9 a.m. matchup pits the red-hot Raiders, who have won 15 of their last dual matches, against a Frazee club that boasts a 22-1 record. Frazee’s only loss of the season was at the hands of Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, the state’s top-ranked Class A team until they were eliminated in section tournament action by Sibley East.

Frazee has six state-ranked wrestlers while the Raiders have three.

BHV’s tentative starters for Thursday’s first round match will be Anthony Kern (36-2, ranked No. 3 in state) at 106, Jarret Kveton (7-9) at 113, Justin Gordon (31-9) at 120, Marshall Willis (18-12) at 126, Zack Waln (26-14) at 132, Holt Truax (24-14) at 138, Ethan Kimber (28-7) at 145, Andrew Cihlar (20-19) at 152, Hayden Truax (14-13) at 160, Nick Bennett (23-6) at 170, John French (15-13) at 182, Andy Bounds (20-9) at 195, Dillon Card (37-0, ranked No. 2 in state) at 220 and Dalton Baker (32-8, ranked No. 10 in state), at 285.

Frazee’s tentative starters include Tanner Eischens (24-10) at 106, Tanner Reetz (29-3, ranked No. 3 in state) at 113, Byron Byer (ranked No. 6 in state) at 120, Ethan Byer (18-8) at 126, Grant Jepson (23-8) at 132, Austin Skillings (25-9, ranked No. 7 in state) at 138, Hunter Sorenson (14-4, ranked No. 9 in state) at 145, Nathan Starry (20-11) at 152, Calvin Streeper (12-20) at 160, McKalen Hedlund (7-14) at 170, Kody VanDenEykel (28-7, ranked No. 5 in state) at 182, Ryan Brandt (23-13) at 195, Brandon DeGroat (20-10) at 220 and Garrett Malstrom (30-5, ranked No. 2 in state) at 285.

“We will have to find a way to keep the matches close up to 145,” BHV wrestling coach Steve Techam said. “We will need to wrestle six minutes and not give up any pins. We feel we can wrestle with their upper weights.”

State team competition will be held in all three of the state's classes Thursday. Individual competition will be held Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Center.