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Wrestling: 13th-ranked Tigers place second at Bemidji

Farmington wrestlers.

The Farmington wrestling team won its home dual meet for the first time ever last weekend.

Head coach Chad Olson was even more impressed by the 13th-ranked Tigers’ effort this weekend at the Rick Lee Duals in Bemidji. Five wrestlers went undefeated as the team topped two ranked opponents while going 5-1 and placing second out of 12 teams.

“The wrestlers took another big step this weekend,” Olson said. “They wrestled even better than they did when we won the Koda Classic.”

The Tigers’ lone loss came to eventual champion Kenyon-Wanamingo, which is ranked No. 3 in Class 1A. After posting matching 3-0 pool play records on Friday, the two teams squared off in the first round on Saturday. The dual was tied 31-31 before Kenyon-Wanamingo closed out the match with a win at heavyweight.

There were several tightly-contested matches that didn't go the Tigers' way.

“We are so proud of the mental toughness our wrestlers showed. It was a dual where we had a few things go against us, but our wrestlers persevered and answered back with great efforts,” Olson said.

Ninth-ranked Matt Rustad and seventh-ranked Kyle Benjamin helped the Tigers with wins over ranked opponents, and seventh-ranked John Walz, Mason Hawkins and John Johnson won three straight matches to tie the dual late.

The team bounced back by defeating seventh-ranked (Class 2A) Perham in Saturday’s second round. Walz and Skyler Raymond both won against ranked wrestlers.

The Tigers closed out the meet by topping 10th-ranked (Class 2A) Moorhead, 39-18. Benjamin and Walz each closed out undefeated tournaments with wins over ranked opponents and Victor Gliva (ranked No. 2), Jamin LeDuc (ranked No. 3) and Rustad closed out undefeated weekends, as well.

The Tigers advanced to Pool A by going 3-0 on Friday night. They defeated Deer River 45-15, Bemidji 40-21 and Big Lake, 53-15. Hawkins pinned a ninth-ranked wrestler against Bemidji and Gliva scored a fall against a ranked Big Lake wrestler.

Another busy week looms as Farmington competes in three meets in three days. Tonight the Tigers travel to Burnsville for a South Suburban Conference triangular against the Blaze and fourth-ranked Shakopee. Tomorrow they go to Eastview for a dual, and then Saturday the team returns to Apple Valley for the Eastview Invitational.