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Wrestling a family affair for Park Rapids Area

Ashton Clark, top, of Park Rapids wrestles Tyler DeFrang of Dover-Eyota in their Class-A 106-pound individual quarterfinal match of the Minnesota Wrestling Tournament on Friday, March 3, 2017, in St. Paul.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

When Park Rapids Area senior wrestler Justin Dravis was a few months old, he made his first appearance at the Minnesota state wrestling tournament. He was in his dad's arms when his dad coached with his grandpa at Staples.

"It's really a challenge," Dravis said. "It's something that I can do and I'm good at. Every side of my family did it. My whole family is a wrestling family, so I'm just trying to keep the tradition going."

In the first round of the Minnesota individual state tournament Friday, March 3, Justin was wrestling on the mat next to his younger brother, Cody. With this being Justin's last year, all Cody wanted to do was stand on the podium next to his brother when it was all over. The two clinched that on Friday, as they both are headed to the Class 1A semifinals.

"I always wanted to at least place with him, both of us in the same tournament one year," Cody said. "The last few years, I haven't won a match here. It was kind of a big deal to me."

At 170 pounds, No. 9-ranked Cody used two pins to get to the semifinals, while No. 2-ranked Justin used a 6-4 decision and a pin in the quarterfinals to head to the semifinals at 160 pounds back at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday.

"I would be nothing in wrestling if it weren't for him beating the crap out of me," Cody said.

It's a family affair for Park Rapids wrestling. The Dravis brothers have their dad as an assistant coach, while top-ranked Ashton Clark's dad is the head coach.

"We have a pretty good group going through right now," Park Rapids coach Matt Clark said. "It's just been a group that's been building for many years. They've been wrestling varsity as seventh and eighth graders, took their lumps and now the dividends are paying off in their high school years. It's just a really good group of kids that mesh well together and they're reaping the benefits right now."

Ranked No. 1 at 106, Ashton used two major decisions to get to the semifinals. The sophomore has his eyes on Park Rapids history. The last state title for Park Rapids was in 2004 for Tyler Safratowich, who wrestled at the University of Minnesota. His title in 2004 was the last of three in a row for him.


14 area wrestlers headed to semifinals

Outside of the three from Park Rapids, 14 other local wrestlers earned their way into the semifinals.

Frazee is sending Tanner Schermerhorn at 120 pounds, Tanner Reetz at 132 pounds and Rory Drewes at 220 pounds in Class 1A. Barnesville has a pair of wrestlers heading to the semifinals, as Brady Tweeton punched his ticket at 138 and Bradey Berg heads to the semis at 285 in Class 1A. West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville will have Jake Nohre at 126, Keaton Long at 152 and Levi Larkin at 170 in Class 1A. New York Mills' Jake Erckenbrack will wrestle in the Class 1A semifinals at 195 and teammate Jett Saewert will wrestle Berg at 285.

In Class 2A, Ottertail Central's Ben Naddy wrestled his way to the semifinals at 113, as did Perham's Dawson Kellogg at 182 and Sam Wamre of United Clay Becker, which is a co-op of Hawley and Lake Park-Audubon, at 220.

Moorhead's top-ranked Sam Grove will wrestle in the semifinals at 195 pounds in Class 3A.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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