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S-M’s Petrich pins his way to third place

Of Blake Petrich’s 86 career wins, 55 have been by pin.

So it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that the Staples-Motley junior scored pins in three of his four victories during the Class 2A state individual wrestling tournament to secure third place.

The four-year varsity wrestler opened the 171-pound bracket March 4 with a 53-second pin over Dassel-Cokato’s Andrew Madson. He then recorded a 3:45 pin against Jared Peterson of Windom to advance to the semifinals.

“What surprised me the most was Blake’s domination on top,” said S-M head coach Dan Bjerga. “His cradles were just solid. When you can go down to the state tournament and earn three pins, that doesn’t happen too often. Most of the wrestlers at state want to be on their feet. There isn’t a whole lot of mat wrestling, especially from wrestlers from the southern part of the state.

“Blake just had a nice cradle. People knew it was coming and he was still able to execute.”

During the March 5 semifinals, Petrich lost his only tournament match to eventual state runner-up Brandon Pederson of Waseca 11-0. He was able to bounce back and scored another pin over Zack Rutt of Montgomery Lonsdale in 1:26. Rutt went on to finish fifth.

In the third-place match, Petrich matched up with Peterson again. The outcome wasn’t a pin, but it was a Petrich victory by a 6-3 score.

“I didn’t put getting third past me, but, no, I didn’t think I would place that high,” said Petrich. “Was I hoping too? Yes, of course. I just wasn’t thinking that high. My goals were just to place.”

Petrich’s new goals are to concentrate on wrestling on his feet this offseason. His coach wants him to hit the weight room more this summer, too.

But don’t worry about him becoming overconfident.

“I suppose I will be more confident, but you can’t underestimate anyone,” he said. “I’m sure people underestimated me this year. I just have to take every match like it’s the state tournament and wrestle strong and tough.”

Petrich, whom Bjerga called an intense wrestler, finished the season 38-8 with 22 pins.

He said his mindset entering a match depends on where the team stands and the level of competition he’s about to face. His first thought is the takedown. Then he tries to set up his cradle or another pin combination.

“You have to have a good crossface,” said Petrich, who also plays football. “It’s easier done than said, but you try to get the crossface and then when they try to step up you have to drive it in and lock it up. Getting them over is the hardest part. Then you finish it off of course.”

Opponents can expect a lot of that next year.

Other notable performances:

Basketball: Jordan Reed, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 21 points against Detroit Lakes.

Nathan Holm, Pine River-Backus, scored 22 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

Kurtis Moody, Pequot Lakes, finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds against Esko and scored 26 points Sebeka.

Seth Auger, Staples-Motley, scored 23 points against Pillager.

Jordan Hunstad, Pillager, scored 20 points against Staples-Motley and 20 against Pine River-Backus.

Beau Howard, Pine River-Backus, scored 27 points against Pillager.

Zach Meidinger, Verndale, scored 21 points against Eagle Valley.

Brandon Meyer, Pierz, finished with 20 points, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot against Holdingford.

Wrestling: Hayden Zillmer, Crosby-Ironton, won the Class 1A 130-pound state title.

Clint Poster, Pierz, won the Class 1A 140-pound state title.

Jordan Chouanard, Aitkin, finished third at 145 pounds in the Class 1A state tournament.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at or 855-5856.