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Three Laker wrestlers place in Big Bear Tournament

Several of the veteran Detroit Lakes wrestlers are starting to figure out their strengths and weaknesses and it started showing last weekend in the Big Bear Wrestling Tournament in Cass Lake.

The Lakers finished in the middle of the pack in the 33-team individual tournament with a 15th place ranking with 93 points, which resulted from a trio of DL matmen placing.

"We are not world beaters now, but our team is constantly getting better," said DL head coach Rob Ullyott. "Everyone is working very hard and they are developing."

One of the keys for the DL placers were that mistakes were limited.

Brandon Baker wrestled to the 119-pound championship, before losing to Class 3A fourth-ranked Brandon Mutz of Brainerd on a 17-4 major decision.

Senior Brandon Johnson had DL's best performance of the weekend, going on a six-match tear after losing his first one to finish third in the 189 division.

Senior Alex Feldt wrestled his way to the 160 semifinals where he fell to Class 2A third state-ranked (at 152) Thief River Falls' Jordan Engen on a 15-4 major decision. Engen moved on to win the 160 class.

Feldt finished fifth overall.

For Johnson, his tournament started with a 15-11 loss to Fosston/Bagley's Andrew Juve, who is ranked eighth in Class 2A at 189.

But the senior Laker owned the wrestleback brackets, registering three falls on his way to the third-place match, where he downed Sam Pagel of Barnesville 10-1.

"Brandon (Johnson) had the best tournament of all the (DL) kids," Ullyott said. "He is starting to find things which are working for him. Brandon is an intelligent wrestler and he is learning to use things he does well.

"I would like to see him a bit more aggressive and open it up a bit more, but he is certainly getting better."

Baker gained a measure of revenge on Walker/Hackensack-Akeley's Luke Conger, who defeated the Laker earlier in the season.

This time, Baker won the 9-7 decision in the semifinals, to set up the championship match against Mutz.

Baker opened his tournament with two consecutive pins under a minute, to set a good tone.

"Brandon (Baker) is making less and less mistakes," Ullyott said. "He's an aggressive wrestler and he is starting to win the close matches, which again, is coming down to making less mistakes.

"Brandon is figuring out his strengths on the mat and not putting himself in position where he's using moves he's not as strong as using."

Feldt also made a deep trip through the 160 bracket, making the semifinals before falling to Engen.

All of Feldt's three wins leading up to the semifinal match came by falls. He lost 7-6 on a last-second takedown in the consolation semifinals to finish fifth.

"Alex had a great tournament," Ullyott included. "Again, he is sticking to his strengths and it's working for him."

The Lakers went a combined 30-26 in their matches.

Monday's home meet with Crookston was postponed to Tuesday, Jan. 6, with Morris coming to town to make it a triangular.

The new Laker wrestling practice facility, which is located behind the DLHS, is scheduled to open early February, as well.

Laker results

Detroit Lakes at the Big Bear Wrestling Tournament, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 19-20.

Team results (top five of 33): Thief River Falls 212, Hutchinson 186, Crookston 172, Deer River 158.5, Hibbing 154. 15. Detroit Lakes 93.

DL results

103: Gabe Foltz (2-2) DNP.

112: Matt Morris (1-2) DNP.

119: Brandon Baker (4-1) Runner-up.

125: Mike Bellefeuille (1-2) DNP.

130: Travis Kienitz (1-2) DNP.

135: Travis Sims (1-2) DNP.

140: Garrett Foltz (3-2) DNP.

145: Art Gomez (1-2) DNP.

152: Josh Tweeton (3-2) DNP.

160: Alex Feldt (4-2) 5th place.

171: Nate Duchene (1-2) DNP.

189: Brandon Johnson (6-1) 3rd place.

215: Justin Holm (1-2) DNP.

HWT: Mike Kohler (1-2) DNP.