Laker wrestling looks to repeat as the top story of upcoming winter season
Detroit Lakes set for follow up to the best finish in program history.
While winter student-athletes and fans await the start of the season pending Gov. Walz’s lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the Detroit Lakes wrestling team looks to be the big story for a second straight year.
The Section 8AA defending champion Lakers are coming off a program-best season after a thrilling run to third place at the state tournament just prior to the COVID shutdown last February.
DL returns with nearly the entire lineup back this season but do have a few big holes to fill.
Lost to graduation were section champion and all-conference Jordan Skadsem (118-81), all-conference wrestler Blake Weber (145-54), Bryant Hazelton (8-14), who came on at the state tournament to fill a void at 106 pounds, and last but certainly not least, two-time state champion Isaiah Thompson (111-17), the best wrestler in DL history, who missed last season after a knee injury during football.
Laker head coach Rob Ullyott’s team is coming off a 25-7 dual season with 10 section place winners, including six state qualifiers and two state place winners.
DL advanced to state in team competition with a come-from-behind 38-30 victory over Thief River Falls at The Hive in Perham to clinch the program’s first 8AA championship and state tournament berth since back-to-back runs in 2004-05.
Seeded fifth, the Lakers opened the state tournament with a 46-23 victory over Dassel-Cokato-Litchfield, before falling to eventual state champions Simley 55-14 in the semifinals. In the third place match, DL needed more late-match heroics to clinch the best finish in team history, a 26-25 victory over No. 3 Foley cemented by a pin in the final match at heavyweight by Andreas Barnett.
DL placed 10 wrestlers in the top four of their weight classes at the section individual tournament with six advancing to state : Cade Okeson at 120 pounds, Cade Jackson at 126, Brody Ullyott at 138, Blaine Henderson at 170, Jordan Skadsem at 220 and Barnett.
Barnett (38-12) is one of eight returning seniors this year. Having Barnett at heavyweight gives the Lakers big opportunities to set up their big man like last season.
Leading the senior group is Brody Ullyott, who made a run to the 138-pound state championship match to finish a 43-6 junior season and a second place finish at state to go with an 8AA individual championship.
Barnett and Blaine Henderson (38-7) were section runners-up.
Other seniors on the team are Carsen Wold (22-8), Nolan Mann (21-21), Andrew Annette (18-12) who just missed a state trip placing third at sections, Thad Schlauderaff (16-32 ) a sixth place section finisher, Michael Friendshuh (2-4) and Garett Nelson (3-0).
Nelson missed the entire regular season last year. The Lakers showcased how good of a team they were competing without him and Thompson.
Nelson made his season debut at sections as kind of a wild card for Coach Ullyott and did not disappoint scoring big wins for the Lakers in the postseason. After a stellar football season this year, Nelson is healthy and will provide a big boost in the middle of the lineup.
Much of DL’s success in 2019-20 came from lightweights building leads early in matches.
Cade Okeson (32-7) returns with a section championship in hand. Cade Jackson was a section runner-up and advanced to the third place match at state finishing a 28-19 season with a fourth place finish.
Tyson Ullyott and Bradly Swiers were both in contention for state bids placing third and fourth at sections, respectively.
Both Detroit Lakes (No. 3) and Thief River Falls (No. 10) are ranked in The Guillotine’s preseason Class AA rankings.
Head coach Kenny Geiser’s Prowlers lost five wrestlers to graduation, notably section champ and sixth place state finisher Jake Davis (202-58) and section champion Cole Johnson (141-66), who combined to record over 340 victories for the Prowlers in their careers.
Thief River Falls was 20-9 in duals last year.
The Lakers and Prowlers are scheduled to meet once in the regular season on Jan. 28 in Fosston.
Perham (19-4) and Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus (27-7) will likely contend for a top spot in 8AA also. PLPRB is coming off a school record season posting 27 dual victories.
( Mat Rat’s Roger Mischke contributed to this report)