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Wrestling: Jensens to be inducted into wrestling hall of fame

Former Pierz Pioneers head coach Mark Jensen and his father, former Brainerd Warriors head coach Merv Jensen, will be inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association David Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame April 28 at the Country Inn and Suites in Benson.

Mark Jensen graduated from Brainerd High School in 1975 with a record of 85-15. He was a region champion and two-time state participant, placing fourth at 132 pounds in 1974.

He attended Concordia College in Moorhead where he compiled a 102-29 record, placing second and fifth at the NCAA Division III National Tournament in 1978 and 1979, respectively. He was voted as a wild card to wrestle in the Division I Tournament at College Park, Md.

Mark earned a degree in physical education and biology, graduating from Concordia in 1979.

He began teaching and coaching at Howard Lake-Waverly in 1980-81. Mark relocated to the Brainerd area where he served as an assistant coach under Bruce Thompson in the early 1980s.

From 1987-2017, Mark coached and taught physical education at Pierz High School. His Pioneer teams compiled a record of 377-112-2. He was section coach of the year seven times, and in 2005 was selected the Minnesota State Coach of the Year. He coached 114 state entrants, seven state individual champs and coached 11 teams to the state tournament.

Pierz was Class 1A state champion in 2004 and 2005, finished second in 2017 and third in 2016. The Pioneers were consolation champs in 2003, 2006 and 2014. They placed sixth in 1996 and 2002.

Mark is a member of the Brainerd High School Hall of Fame and the Warriors Wrestling Hall of Fame. He is also in the Concordia College Athletic Hall of Fame for football and wrestling.

He and his wife, Karla, have four daughters—Kristine, Kaley, Kaitlyn and Kaari.

Merv Jensen will be inducted as a Pioneer Award recipient. In 1947, Merv became the first individual state champion in Albert Lea High School history. He went on to the University of Minnesota where he wrestled in Big Ten and NCAA Division I tournaments and was the Gophers' captain in 1951.

His first teaching job was at Hampton, Iowa, and he later spent one year at Stillwater High School before moving to Brainerd in 1956. He spent 22 years in the Brainerd School System, teaching primarily driver's education and physical education. He was the Warriors' head wrestling coach in two separate stints.

In 1978, he left Brainerd to work for Plywood Minnesota, the forerunner to Floor to Ceiling Stores, in Aberdeen, S.D., where he spent 14 years before retiring in 1992.

Merv started the wrestling program at Stillwater. In 1967, he started the Paul Bunyan Invitational at Brainerd.

Additional inductees include Larry Goodnature, coach; Ed Kane, Jim Williams and Roger Wilson, contributors; and Paul Kuznik, Pat McNamara and Chris Nelson, athletes.

Other Pioneer Award recipients are Glen Gertes of Faribault and Fed Stoecker of Owatonna.

More information is available by emailing Steve Ricard at sricard@benson.k12.mn.us.

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