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Badger duo make state debut

Sam Klingfus (left) and Mason Swegarden (right) each qualified for the Class 2A state wrestling meet. It will be both wrestlers' first time at the "Big Show."

The wrestling programs in the Lake Park-Audubon and Hawley School Districts underwent a heavy renovation this season when the two combined to form the United Clay Becker Badgers.

Although there were some bumps in the process, the co-op between the two teams can be deemed a success. The exclamation point came in the form of two wrestlers qualifying for the Class 2A state wrestling meet, which is Wednesday through Saturday inside the Xcel Energy Center.

Both eighth grader Mason Swegarden and junior Sam Klingfus will be making their state debuts Wednesday.

"These two kids did the extra work and went to the wrestling camps, and hopefully their teammates see that and see what that extra work gets them," said UCB head coach Travis Nagel.

LP-A and Hawley both had to bump from Class 1A competition to Class 2A, which in the long run, wasn't such a bad transition.

Swegarden took runner-up honors in the Class 8-2A 103-pound class.

Swegarden bulled his way through the first two rounds, pinning both his opponents, then won his semifinal match 5-3.

In the title bout, Fergus Falls' Tyler Giza downed the Badger 6-1.

"I had split my matches with (Giza) during the regular season, so I wasn't too happy with what happened in sections," Swegarden said. "But it feels good being just one of two eighth graders in my weight class in state. Knowing I'm one of the best 16 in the state is cool."

Swegarden is a bigger 103-pounder after wrestling UCB's duel matches at 112.

The Badger eighth grader has a chance to use his strength against his 103-pound opponents.

"It helped me wrestling at 112 during the season, I usually have more strength (versus 103-pounders)," Swegarden said. "I've also wrestled in some big National meets, so I know the big-meet atmosphere."

Swegarden, who has a record of 33-5, will open the state meet against sophomore Eric Bourgeois (32-4) of Monticello.

"Mason has put more time into wrestling as an eighth grader than some wrestlers put into an entire (high school) career," Nagel said. "He's also seen the big meet, so he's done that. Now, with his size, conditioning and technique, he's sitting in a good spot."

For the 119-pound Klingfus, the taste of making state was on his lips twice as a Hawley Nugget, but both times, he came up just short.

Twice, Klingfus finished third in section action.

So, the motivation to get over the hump this year was more prevalent than ever.

This year, Klingfus wasn't going to be denied, as he dominated both his first two opponents with decisions of 14-1 and 15-0 (technical fall).

In the semifinals, Klingfus beat the No. 2 seeded Mike Bellefeuille of Detroit Lakes, 5-2.

Although Klingfus came up short against Thief River Falls' Sam Twistol 2-0, the UCB junior still completed his goal of making state.

"My first goal was to make state before anything else," Klingfus said. "Losing in the (section) championship didn't affect anything, I still wanted state.

"I finished third twice in the section meet, I wasn't going to settle for anything less than state."

Klingfus (30-7) will use his aggressive style and ability to capitalize on his opponents' mistakes at state, where he will face Nate Lecy (34-8) of Stewartville in the opening round.

"Sam will sit there during practice and figure out what he's doing wrong, he's that type who does the extra work," Nagel said.

Senior Brandon Schoeberl just missed a state berth, after he finished third at heavyweight with a pin on Jon Erickson of Fertile-Beltrami.

Other Badger section placers included Logan Gage (fifth, 112), Wyatt Wixo (sixth, 130), Derek Braseth (fifth, 152) and Joe Anderson (sixth, 215).

Badger results

Section 8-2A individual tournament at Cass Lake-Bena, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 26-27.

United Cass Becker results (*state qualifiers)

*103 - Championship: Tyler Giza (FF) dec. Mason Swegarden (UCB) 6-1.

112 - Fifth place: Garrett Sander (FB) pin Logan Gage (UCB) 4:42.

*119 - Championship: Sam Twistol (TRF) dec. Sam Klingfus (UCB) 2-0.

130 - Fifth place: Tony Sims (DL) dec. Wyatt Wixo (UCB) 10-5.

152 - Fifth place: Derek Braseth (UCB) pin Joe Anderson (WHAN) 1:20.

215 - Fifth place: Ben Brill (Perh) pin Joe Anderson (UCB) 2:32.

HWT - Third place: Brandon Schoeberl (UCB) pin Jon Erickson (FB) :35.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.