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State Team Wrestling: Underdog role fits Road Crew just fine

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sports Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus is paving a new road this season.

For the first time in program history the Road Crew will compete in the Class 2A state team tournament Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

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PL/PRB knocked off top-seeded Perham in the Section 8-2A semifinals and No. 2-seeded Detroit Lakes in the finals.

Next the Road Crew, ranked 11th in 2A, will face No. 2-seeded and second-ranked Foley in the state quarterfinals.

PL/PRB enters the tournament with an 18-4 record, while Foley owns a 25-3 mark.

“The goal of the team was to qualify for the state tournament,” said PL/PRB head coach Travis Hoffarth. “That was goal No. 1 and we’ve accomplished that. I told the team (Wednesday) morning after our practice that if you’ve ever obtained a goal before then you know you have to set a new one. Right now we’re looking at proving that we belong.”

Foley is looking to improve on last year’s third-place showing. This is the Falcons’ seventh consecutive and 21st overall appearance. They won titles in 1989, 1993 and 1994.

“I know they have a lot of tradition behind their program,” said Hoffarth. “They are going to be one of the tougher teams we’ve seen, but I think we match up fairly well with them. We also have been underdogs basically from the get-go.

“When it comes to the team sections, we were the No. 4 seed, but we didn’t let that bother us. We know we can hang with anyone. We proved at sections that seeds don’t matter. You have to go out and prove it on the mat.”

Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale finished the regular season 15-2 and knocked off Pelican Rapids, West Central and Border West to advance to its first state tournament since 2002 and its fifth overall. The Raiders, ranked No. 12 in the last Guillotine poll, will wrestle No. 2-seeded and No. 2-ranked Frazee (18-1) in the quarterfinals 9 a.m. Thursday.

“I think Frazee is extremely tough in the first six or seven weight classes,” said BHV head coach Steve Techam. “If we can keep it close and win two or three of those matches it will be close. If we don’t, then it’s going to be a long day.

“Our strength is balance. We have 12 or 13 guys with 20 or more wins. We have five guys who have won 30-plus matches. Plus, we’re a pinning team. We have over 260 pins and that’s our strength. The problem is Frazee doesn’t give up pins.”

Pierz cruised through the Section 7-1A team tournament by allowing just 25 points in its three victories. The Pioneers enter their 11th state tournament, and fourth straight, with a 25-1 record. They’ll face No. 3-seeded and fourth-ranked Chatfield (24-1) in the quarterfinals.

Pierz finished the regular season ranked seventh. Its one loss was to top-seeded Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, which opens the tournament against Sibley East. Jackson County Central faces Minneota in the other quarterfinal.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

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