Hornets to crowd Xcel Center
The Xcel Energy Center was basically the Frazee wrestling team's home away from home through the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Last year, however, the Hornets were not able to make the trip to their vast second home, after losing their first Section 8-1A title in several years.
Not to worry. That one-year absence was just a sabbatical for the "Grapplers in Green."
After that one-year hiatus, Frazee recaptured the Section 8-1A team title with a 31-27 victory over Greenbush/Badger-Middle River in the section championship. Not only will the entire team be making the trip to St. Paul this Thursday through Saturday, the Hornets have 10 wrestlers competing in the state individual tournament as well.
Welcome back to the not-so-old days.
"These guys wanted the section team title bad," said Frazee first-year head coach John Barlund. "Qualifying 10 individuals wasn't that big of a deal, because this is such a team-oriented group."
This state-bound Frazee team is a bit different than past squads. There are no Matt Nagel-like superstars headlining the Hornet lineup.
One could call this group the "No-Name" Hornet team. But make no mistake about it, this Frazee team is as solid at the top as they are through the middle, and all the way through to the heavyweight division.
"Our depth takes a lot of pressure off of us," said Frazee's tri-captain, 130-pounder Zach Sullinger. "The entire team performs well, so we really know we have someone backing us up."
Kerry Lockrem, who is Frazee's two-time state qualifier at 145, added the lineup is as solid as can be at virtually every weight class.
"We don't have any superstars, we are just a strong team," he said.
That showed in the section title bout against the Gators. Frazee didn't give up any crucial bonus points at the start of the meet at the lower weights, allowing the Hornets to collect important points at the middle and end.
"Things went our way and early in the match, we were tied in bonus points after the first three weights," Barlund said. "We lost two in the middle, which tightened things up, but I think Greenbush committed to what they were going to do by 140, so that told us what to do from there with our lineup."
Mike Lucero started the match with a pin, which was backed up by an Andrew Lockrem fall at 125, after the Hornets dropped the second and third bouts by decision.
Justin Skillings' pin at 171 and Austin Bachmann's 5-4 decision at 189 would guarantee the Hornets a late-season trip to the Xcel Energy Center.
The sparks of Frazee's rise this year were seeded last season, and with some lack of respect the team earned at the start of this year.
"We had no doubt that we would be good," Kerry Lockrem added.
"It just added more fuel to fire when we didn't get much respect (at the beginning of the year)," Sullinger added.
The Frazee rise in the polls began with a convincing win over New York Mills, and proceeded with a third-place finish in the ultra-competitive Bismarck Tournament. Wins over Perham and Greenbush solidified Frazee's standing, as the Hornets rose up to third in Class 1A.
"We started the year with confidence and as the season went on, we just got a ton more," Lockrem said.
The Hornets will open against top-rated Pierz Thursday at 7:30 p.m. It's a matchup which will feature two teams wrestling with similar styles.
"Their team is almost a mirror image of ours, from top to bottom," Barlund said. "It will be a good matchup for us."
The Class 1A individual preliminaries will begin Thursday at noon, and the individual quarterfinals will start at 2 p.m..
Section 8-1A team tournament at Fertile, Saturday, Feb. 25.
Team results -- Championship: Frazee 31, Greenbush/Badger-Middle River 27...Semifinals: Frazee 44, Fertile-Beltrami 18; GMRB 45, Barnesville 22...Quarterfinals: Fertile-Beltrami 47, D-G-F 19; Barnesville 60, Red Lake County Central 18.
Frazee 31, Gators 27
103: Mike Lucero (Frz) pin Skyler Price 1:39.
112: Aaron Brazier (GB) dec. Isaac Galbrecht 9-2.
119: Ryan Campbell (GB) dec. Jake Schermerhorn 9-2.
125: Andrew Lockrem (Frz) pin Tyler Brazier :33.
130: Cody Brazier (GB) dec. Zach Sullinger 8-2.
135: Ben Anderson (Frz) dec. Eli Jensen (GB) 3-1.
140: Derek Shipman (Frz) dec. Tanner Pierce 11-7.
145: Wrestler name not available (GB) dec. Kerry Lockrem 11-7.
152: Trent Sovde (GB) dec. Jake Sailer 2-1.
160: Kyler Wegner (Frz) dec. Jordan Kapphahn 4-2.
171: Justin Skillings (Frz) pin Trevor Jenson 1:43.
189: Austin Bachmann (Frz) dec. Steven Truscinski 5-4.
215: Josh Hall (GB) pin Forest Sauer 1:34.
HWT: Shawn Stanislawski (GB) pin Nick Galbrecht :33.
Frazee individual first-round match-ups -- 103: Mike Lucero (33-6) vs. Caleb Diercks (Goodhue, 31-6)...125: Andrew Lockrem (29-11) vs. Tanner Skillings (Minneota, 31-2)...130: Zach Sullinger (24-15) vs. Cameron Jurgenson (Dawson-Boyd, 28-9)...135: Ben Anderson (34-5) vs. Nick Pfaff (Mille Lacs, 31-6)...140: Derek Shipman (29-3) vs. Shane Fickes (Wheaton/Herman-Norcross, 36-4)...145: Kerry Lockrem (26-14) vs. Matt Merrick (Chatfield, 34-7)...152: Jake Sailer (23-10) vs. Matt Trio (Maple River, 30-10)...160: Justin Skillings (31-9) vs. Seth Klosteich (Breckenridge, 36-7)...189: Austin Bachmann (31-8) vs. Taylor Holland (New Richland-H-E-G, 37-6)...HWT: Nick Galbrecht (24-17) vs. Scott Saehr (Pierz, 25-11).