Raiders produce more late-match magic in taking second at state
Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie trailed 36-18 in the Class A team semifinals on Saturday, but the Raiders rallied with pins down the stretch to beat Jackson County Central before falling to Kimball Area in the championship.
Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie wrestling went through a stretch early in the season where the Raiders dropped some matches against the best competition on their schedule.
It included losses to Class A powers in Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Minnewaska and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, but when all was said and done, B-H-V-Parkers Prairie had risen to the top over all but one Class A team in Minnesota.
The Raiders, ranked fifth in the final Guillotine polls, capped off an incredible run at the end of the season by finishing second at the state tournament on Saturday at St. Michael-Albertville High School. They wrestled 11th-ranked Jackson County Central (30-4) in the Class A semifinals and won a 37-36 match that came down to needing a pin at heavyweight.
The Raiders (29-8) met fourth-ranked Kimball Area in the state championship where the Cubs (25-4) proved to have a little too much in a 49-21 final.
“Second in state was a testament to the hard work and extra effort the team has put in,” Raiders’ head coach Bill Wagner said. “There are a lot of really good local teams in the area right now -- BBE, LPGE-B, Minnewaska, WCA, and a host of others. This season we wrestled them all knowing that would help prepare us for the end game. It did. We plan to continue to build. However, replacing 10 seniors is going to be really tough.”
The Raiders had a knack for putting away close matches down the stretch during their nine-match winning streak leading up to the championship. Heavyweight Hayden Captain has a lot to do with that , and he did it again in Saturday’s semifinals. With his team trailing 36-30, Captain pinned Jackson County Central’s Trace Michelson in the third period (4:42) to tie the match and give the Raiders the win by criteria.
After little momentum in the first period, Captain scored a couple of takedowns in the second that Michelson was able to escape.
“Hayden almost worked a turn, which had the coaching staff choosing the top position in the third period,” Wagner said. “His opponent escaped in under 10 seconds. Hayden found a way to get another takedown and was really forcing the issue with his turns, which compromised his position and the scramble was on. Hayden, with cat-like feet, pounced and locked up the assassin move and put his opponent to his back for the fall in the waning seconds of the third period.”
B-H-V-Parkers Prairie had five pins in the match to JCC’s four. Those six-point wins helped the Raiders rally from what was a 36-18 deficit after the 182-pound match. Gideon Ervasti started their run with a pin (0:20) at 195.
James Grant followed suit with a second-period pin at 220 to set up Captain to take the match. Brock Peterson (152, 1:34) and Hunter Dean (170, 5:43) added pins for the Raiders, and Deagen Captain (120, 6-2) and Reese Thompson (138, 3-2) each had decision wins in the semifinals.
Wagner called the odds of getting three pins in the final three weight classes "slim to none."
Jackson County Central moved up its 195-pound state-ranked wrestler to take on Grant at 220. Grant wrestled up until 8th grade until he tore his ACL in his knee as a freshman and spent the year rehabbing. He chose to focus on football through high school until his senior year, and he's provided a big boost to this team in the heavier weights this winter.
"James was down (7-2) in the middle of the second period," Wagner said. "He found a way to escape and then dug in and got his double underhooks to a bear hug and put his opponent on his back. His opponent was on his back out of bounds, but James' feet were still in and James got the pin with under 25 seconds on the clock. The bench went crazy, the fans were screaming."
Kimball had been equally as hot as the Raiders as winners of 12 straight matches heading into the championship. The Raiders led 15-0 through three weight classes when Bennet Arceneau (106, fall, 0:18), David Revering (113, 7-2 decision) and Deagen Captain (120, fall, 1:19) all won, but the Cubs responded with 10 straight wins. Hayden Captain got another pin for the Raiders at heavyweight to finish off his team’s scoring.
"Kimball is extremely tough and their top end is amazing," Wagner said. "The middle weights wrestled well and were in three of the five matches but just could not get it done. Kimball at 160, 170, 195 and 220 had state-ranked wrestlers and individual qualifiers. (We) wrestled tough at all these weights but lost all of them by just a few points. Hayden did cap the day of with a great pin, making it four in a row to end his senior season. Kimball's tough, no doubt about it. (We) left it all on the mat, and we couldn't be more proud of them."
Revering paces Raiders in individuals
Three B-H-V-Parkers Prairie wrestlers had to move on quickly from the team portion of the tournament and focus on individuals later in the day.
David Revering (113), Hunter Dean (170) and Gideon Ervasti (195) all qualified in previous rounds to secure a spot in the Class A quarterfinals.
"After watching the team matches and seeing them battle and grind, I was extremely worried," Wagner said. "Not to mention the emotional ups and downs of the team semis and finals. You could see that they didn't have a full tank. However, they ground it out, battled and fought for every point."
Revering led the Raiders with a fourth-place finish at state, while Dean was sixth and Ervasti dropped heartbreakers in both of his matches as Ethan Kovars (30-2) of Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Ethan Boll (38-3) of Crookston both beat Ervasti (26-5) by 6-4 sudden victories in extra time.
Revering (36-6) won his quarterfinals match against Zach Ikola (28-6) of Deer River by a 9-0 major decision. Revering used an early takedown to set the tone in that match.
That moved him on to the semifinals where he met Jevon Williams (31-5) of ACGC. Williams got a first-period takedown and a three-point nearfall in the second period on his way to an 8-1 win. Revering went into the third-place match where Kie Anderson (38-4) of Jackson County Central won a 2-0 decision where a first-period takedown were the only points scored.
Dean (28-5) got his lone win in the consolation semifinals in an 11-6 decision against Tate Lange (33-5) of Holdingford. Josiah Hedensten (25-4) of Medford won an 11-10 decision against Dean in the quarterfinals, but Dean bounced back with a takedown, a reversal and a nearfall in the first period against Lange to take control of that match early.
His win in the consolation semifinals sent him into the fifth-place match against Caden Johnson (40-2) of Tracy-Milroy-Balaton-Westbrook-Walnut Grove. Dean had a great second period with an escape, a takedown and a three-point nearfall giving him a 6-2 lead. Johnson won it in the third period with two takedowns and a four-point nearfall that led to a 12-9 win.
"Would the outcome have been different if they were not involved in the team? Maybe, maybe not," Wagner said. "The real point is that they got to wrestle in the team and the individual portion of the state tourney. How many kids can say that? They gave it their all...There is no question that they put every ounce of effort into each and every match."