UCB Wrestling: Swegarden makes his way back to state
United Clay Becker senior Mason Swegarden appreciates the his recent Class 2A state berth, after winning the 145-pound division Section 8-2A championship in Perham Saturday.
That appreciation emanates from the fact that making state is not a given, despite being the all-time win leader in Lake Park-Audubon history with 181 wins and the fact he made state at an early age in his eighth grade season.
Swegarden has racked up five very successful wrestling seasons, registering records of 36-5 his eighth grade season, followed by marks of 20-5, 30-5, 35-5 and this year’s 38-2 record.
But three losses in the section semifinals the last three years prevented Swegarden of making a repeat trip to state, that is, until this past Saturday in Perham.
“I’ve talked with my dad (LP-A activity director Jed Swegarden) about measuring yourself in years and not if you make state or not,” Swegarden said. “It’s been humbling not going to state the last couple of years, so that makes this one that more special.”
Swegarden pulled the semifinal monkey off his shoulders after beating Pequot Lakes’ Dillon Nichols by fall, thrusting the Badger into the finals for the first time since his eighth grade year.
After that, Swegarden took care of business and beat No. 8 state-ranked Alexi Bode of Fosston/Bagley 9-2 to secure his first section championship.
“I was excited to win a section title, since I’ve never done that before,” Swegarden said. “After losing in the semifinals three years in a row and to be able to pin my kid in the semifinals, it was a big one.
“But I kept my mind right after that and focused on winning a section title.”
Swegarden will not be alone in his state quest, either, with sophomore teammate Jonah Lange winning the 170 division.
Lange came on strong this season after missing half of last year with an injury. Determined to do better than his sixth place finish in section last year, Lange worked hard in the offseason and stayed consistent throughout the season.
“He’s a great leader and this year, I expected big things because he’s a hard worker,” said UCB head coach Nick Paur. “His primary sport is wrestling and he puts his work into it during the offseason. Jonah does all those little things to make himself better and you do not expect that much strength from a sophomore.”
Lange beat Perham’s Cole Schmitz 7-5 in the title bout, after not having that much success against the Yellowjacket earlier in the season.
“I didn’t take him down at all the first time we wrestled, so it was big when I dumped him that first time,” Lange said. “I was able to wrestle him on his feet well and finish it at the end.
“It’s a good feeling, because I’ve been working all summer for that section title.”
After the section meet, Swegarden and Lange were talking in the locker room, where the elder Badger had to remind the sophomore champion to take the moment in, because it’s not guaranteed to repeat itself in the next couple of years.
“I heard Jonah say ‘I have two years left, too,’ but I told him enjoy this one and treat it like you may never get back,” Swegarden said. “Because you may never know what the section will be in the future or you may get hurt.
“But it’s special we get to go together this time, it should be fun.”
Section 8-2A individual tournament in Perham, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 21-22.
United Clay Becker placers (*state qualifiers)
113: Riley Byklum - 5th place: Riley Byklum (United Clay Becker) 19-15, Fr. over Jordan Winter (Sauk Centre-Melrose) 15-20, Fr. (Dec 5-0).
126: Jarret Lange - 5th place: Jarret Lange (United Clay Becker) 13-13, So. over Brandon Mager (Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus) 18-16.
145: *Mason Swegarden -1st place: Mason Swegarden (United Clay Becker) 38-2, Sr. over Alexi Bode (Fosston/Bagley) 36-5, Sr. (Dec 9-2).
152: Nick Wamre - 3rd place: Jace Loge (Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus) 7-4, Sr. over Nick Wamre (United Clay Becker) 22-19, Jr. (Dec 9-3).
170: *Jonah Lange - 1st place: Jonah Lange (United Clay Becker) 35-5, So. over Cole Schmitz (Perham) 27-12, Jr. (SV-1 7-5).
182: Isaiah Ruhl – Eighth place.