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Hornets send half a dozen to Class 1A state meet

the six state Frazee wrestlers include (L to R) freshman Byron Byer (106 pounds), freshman Austin Skillings (113), sophomore Hunter Sorenson (132), junior Bruce Lemon (138), senior Rij Koehnen (152) and senior Rick Brandt (220). The Hornets will start their individual state tournaments Friday inside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The semifinals and finals will be Saturday.

The Frazee wrestling team alleviated the sting of falling to Greenbush/Badger-Middle River in the Section 8-1A team finals by qualifying a half a dozen wrestlers in the state individual tournament.

The Hornets will have good representation in this year's tournament, as seniors Rij Koehnen (152 pounds) and Rick Brandt (220), along with junior Bruce Lemon (138), sophomore Hunter Sorenson (132), freshmen Austin Skillings (113) and Byron Byer (106) made it through Section 8-1A competition.

"We thought we had the potential to send between five and eight wrestlers, so we're happy with six," said Frazee head coach John Barlund. "The state experience these guys have will be huge."

Although on paper some of the Hornets' records are not of their opponents they will be facing in state, it will actually be an advantage as they try for deep runs through their respective classes.

The rugged schedule the Frazee team went through this season will ultimately be a benefit by the time Friday rolls around for the start of the Class 1A individual tournament inside the Xcel Energy Center.

"We wrestled good competition all season, so it's tough to judge our guys by their records," Barlund said. "They will be ready to go, though."

But there are some hefty Hornets who are entering as top contenders for state titles, as well.

Leading the way is Lemon, who has a 38-5 record and finished ranked No. 2 at 138.

"He wrestled the top guys in every tournament and he has some high goals at state," Barlund said. "Bruce has a decent draw and he'll be right up there with everyone else."

Lemon starts his title quest against sophomore Cody Heitman (32-13) of Zumbrota-Mazeppa.

Koehnen's 35-3 record earned him a regular season ranking of No. 3 at 152 and his state experience, along with big-meets victories will obviously come into play Friday and Saturday.

Koehnen faces senior Jason McLaughlin (29-12) of Madelia/Truman to open the tournament.

"Rij has fine tuned some things and eliminated his mistakes," Barlund added. "He seems to do well against top competition."

Brandt finished with a record of 34-8 and a No. 3 ranking and he will open against senior Paul Sonnek (25-7) of Maple River.

The remaining three underclassmen, Sorenson (23-10), Skillings (25-17) and Byer (23-10), all have legitimate shots to wrestle deep into their brackets and contend for top six placings, Barlund included.

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