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Laker pair battle way to state mat

DL senior Brandon Johnson and junior Alex Feldt qualified for their first Class 2A state wrestling meet. Johnson is a 189-pounder and Feldt a 160-pounder. (Brian Basham/Record)

DETROIT LAKES - Around the same time Saturday, senior Brandon Johnson and junior Alex Feldt were partaking in their biggest wrestling matches of their lives.

Both came during their Section 8-2A semifinal bouts and fortunately for each of Detroit Lakes' 189-pound Johnson and 160-pound Feldt, the two matches resulted in being the biggest victories of their wrestling careers.

With the pair of semifinal victories, Johnson and Feldt battled their way through the section to qualify for their first Class 2A state wrestling meet, which runs Wednesday through Saturday inside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Each match was similar, in that both Lakers had to battle back from early deficits and both came against highly-touted opponents as No. 3 seeds.

"It was amazing winning and it was definitely the biggest win of my life," said Feldt of his semifinal pin over No. 7 ranked Brandon Klug of Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena/Indus.

Both DL wrestlers had history against their opponents and for Johnson, it was as close as it went against Fergus Falls' Ryan Jacobson.

The two wrestlers split the No. 2 seed in the sections, with Johnson gaining the third seed.

"I lost to Jacobson during the DL Invite and that was my big spark, my reality check," Johnson said.

Johnson wrestled his way through to the semifinals with a pin on Little Falls' Brandon Hiemenz, while Jacobson also won by fall to move on to face his Laker nemesis.

In the semifinal match, Jacobson jumped out to a 5-0 lead after getting a headlock on Johnson to gain the takedown and back points.

"I knew he only had a headlock and he got it on me early," Johnson said.

But the second and third periods were Johnson's, as he was able to chip away, which eventually went into overtime.

The two grapplers had a stalemate through three overtime periods, where finally Johnson was able to post the escape and ride Jacobson out the final 30 seconds for the 8-7 win.

"Things really just fell into place for me," Johnson said. "First, (No. 1 ranked) Nate Schmitz of Perham bumped up to 171. I hate injuries to anyone, too, but the top-seeded 189-pounder Andrew Juve hurt his ankle in his semifinal match.

"So, I knew after I had the win over Jacobson, I'd be safe making state."

But Johnson put his final touches on the section by winning the 189-pound title with a pin on Blackduck's Mark Binkley in the finals.

"He came in shooting me and I got the take down and if I can get them on their back, I don't want to let them up," Johnson said of his fall in the championship bout.

DL head coach Rob Ullyott, who didn't see Johnson come in his wrestling program until his freshman year, said hard work was Johnson's key to rising up the ladder so quick.

"I knew when Brandon came out he had abilities," Ullyott said. "In wrestling, even if you are an average athlete, with hard work, you can succeed. The biggest thing with Brandon was his hard-work ethic."

Like Johnson, Feldt fell into a hole to Klug -- and in truth, it probably was a reason the Laker won the bout.

Klug jumped out early on Feldt 5-1, which eventually worked into Feldt's fortunes.

The style of wrestling Feldt possesses was a reason he was able to wear down Klug and eventually pin the state-ranked wrestler with 37 seconds left in the third period.

"I was a little worried, but by the second period, I saw he was getting pretty tired," Feldt said. "I got the reversal right away in the second and I was able to start working my pinning combos."

The aggressive style of Feldt kept wearing on Klug, who by the third period, was dragging.

"He was tuckered in the third period," Feldt added.

By the time Feldt put Klug on his back, the Lakers was winning by three points. But he gained the pin anyways, needed or not.

"Al (Feldt) was up three to five pints and by then, points didn't mean anything," Ullyott said. "All he had to do was stay on top and get the win.

"When he came off the mat, I asked Al what he was thinking, he said 'Coach, I didn't realize I was leading.'"

That last statement describes the full-throttle attitude of Feldt, who goes all out no matter if he's winning or losing.

The pair of Lakers will wrestle their preliminary matches Wednesday at 8 p.m.

"The section semifinals brings the most pressure, so there shouldn't be any pressure on either Brandon or Alex during the state," Ullyott said. "They just need to go out and wrestle their hearts out."

Johnson (31-8) opens against Milaca's junior Rip Baker (32-8), while Feldt (26-14) starts with sophomore Jesse Munos (32-9) of South St. Paul.

Laker results

Section 8-2A individual tournament at Cass Lake-Bena, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 27-28.

Medal rounds

103 Pounds

1. Jacoby Bergeron (TRF) Dec. 12-7

2. Frank Wilczek (LF)

True Second: Frank Wilczek Fall Tyler Giza :19

3. Tyler Giza (FF) Dec. 11-10

4. Luke Sailer (PER)

5. Jesse Eastman (ROS) Disq.

6. Wrestler Disqualified

112 Pounds

1. Chaz Abrahamson (TRF) Dec. 3-1

2. Andrew Gorentz (PER)

True Second: Charlie Wilczek Fall Andrew Gorentz 1:58

3. Charlie Wilczek (LF) Dec. 9-6

4. Mike Bellefeulle (DL)

5. Drey Loge (PLPRB) Maj. Dec. 10-2

6. Braden Stroot (ROS)

119 Pounds

1. Jacob Werner (PER) Fall 5:06

2. Brandon Baker (DL)

True Second: Luke Conger Maj. Dec. Brandon Baker 13-5

3. Luke Conger (WHAN) Fall 3:42

4. Peter Harrison (PLPRB)

5. Holden Nelson (TRF) Maj. Dec. 13-2

6. Zach Audette (ROS)

125 Pounds

1. Sam Warne (PER) Dec. 5-2

2. Kyle LeDuc (TRF)

True Second: Kyle LeDuc Dec. Samual Marcus 9-2

3. Samuel Marcus (LF) Fall :31

4. Cody Schrupp (PLPRB)

5. Devin Wicks (WHAN) Dec. 6-4

6. Dylan Holmer (PR)

130 Pounds

1. Connor MacGregor (ROS) Dec. 11-7

2. Zach Humphrey (PLPRB)

3. Isaac Werner (PER) Dec. 9-3

4. Bryant Bue (LF)

5. Dustin Teberg (FF) Fall 3:31

6. Forrest Drury (PR)

135 Pounds

1. Nic Harrison (PLPRB) Tech. Fall 5:09

2. Dillon Kifer (LF)

3. Joe Berns (PER) Dec. 8-5

4. Garrett Foltz (DL)

5. Matt Laugen (FF) Dec. 7-5

6. Mike Dyrdal (TRF)

140 Pounds

1. Steve Keogh (TRF) Maj. Dec. 9-1

2. Dwight Jenne (PER)

3. Alex Hensch (FF) Fall 3:32

4. Justin Tweeton (DL)

5. Levi Allen (PLPRB) Fall 2:39

6. Cory McClung (FB)

145 Pounds

1. Kevin Fynboh (TRF) Fall 4:23

2. Jordan Ringquist (FF)

True Second Jordan Ringquist Dec. Gavin Biegler 6-3

3. Gavin Biegler (PER) Fall 3:00

4. Dustin Campbell (PLPRB)

5. Josh Tweeton (DL) Dec. 5-2

6. John Kruger (ROS)

152 Pounds

1. Jordan Engen (TRF) Maj. Dec. 10--1

2. Charlie Schmitz (PER)

True Second: Charlie Schmitz Dec. Derik Jendro 10-3

3. Derik Jendro (LF) Dec. 8-6 OT

4. Matt Weaver (PR)

5. Chris Harrison (PLPRB) Fall :44

6. Nate Duchene (DL)

160 Pounds

1. Cody Bue (LF) Fall :37

2. Alex Feldt (DL)

3. Brandon Klug (BCLB) Dec. 5-3

4. Jared Nash (PR)

5. Jordan Yanish (EGF/SH) Dec. 13-7

6. Sam Meyer (PER)

171 Pounds

1. Travis Peralta (TRF) Dec. 3-2 OT

2. Nate Schmitz (PER)

True Second Nate Schmitz Fall Eric Hagen 1:10

3. Eric Hagen (EGF/SH) Dec. 3-1

4. Jesse Laugen (FF)

5. Austin Scherping (LF) Dec. 15-8

6. Dan Pike (PR)

189 Pounds

1. Brandon Johnson (DL) Fall 5:32

2. Mark Binkley (BCLB)

True Second: Mark Binkley Maj. Dec. Ryan Jacobson 13-4

3. Ryan Jacobson (FF) Maj. Dec. 17-6

4. Ronnie Kassa (EGF/SH)

5. Ben Brill (PER) Default

6. Andrew Juve (FB)

215 Pounds

1. Colton Thorson (FF) Dec. 4-3

2. Casey Sazama PER)

True Second: Casey Sazama Fall Nick Cervantes 3:27

3. Nick Cervantes (TRF) Maj. Dec. 22-1

4. Casey Pagnac (EGF/SH)

5. Cooper Wilson (FB) Fall 5:05

6. Garrett Edelman (WHAN)

285 Pounds

1. John Heinen (ROS) Dec. 3-2

2. Josh Campion (FF)

3. Jesse Hein (PER) Dec. 5-1

4. Michael Comican (FB)

5. Eric Hegna (LF) Fall :22

6. Brian Doherty (TRF).