Cole Kubesh ended a mini-slump for the Brainerd Warriors in the 48th annual Paul Bunyan Invitational Saturday at Brainerd High School.
Wrestling at 113 pounds, Kubesh secured the Warriors' first individual title in the tournament since Bryton Mutz in 2012 when he beat Sauk Rapids' Hunter Rajkowski 7-3. The two had wrestled in a dual meet Dec. 4. Kubesh, then wrestling at 120, moved up to beat Rajkowski 3-1.
"I tried to keep good position on him," Kubesh said. "I beat him quite bit a more than the last time I wrestled him, but the last time I was going up to his weight. Now he's coming down to my weight."
Kubesh said a disappointing showing in last year's Bunyan motivated him to elevate his performance this season.
"Last year I happened to get caught two times," he said. "I just had to keep fighting and training harder so I could get to the top."
The Warrior sophomore remained unbeaten in 10 matches this season.
"He's really a tough kid," Warriors co-head coach Mike Boran said. "He grinds things out. He got out of position a couple times in that finals match but was able to fight through that position. He scored some big back points to get a nice lead.
"He had a great tournament and he's having a great season so far."
Paul Bunyan Invite Day 1
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Pierz's Kolton Eischens was the only other lakes area champion as he pinned Justin Jenks of Little Falls at 2:18 for the 160 title.
"We wrestled when we were littler, and last year," Eischens said. "I lost to him a few times in my life but I didn't wrestle like I wanted to today. I went out there and was slow but I ended up catching him in that neck-wrench thing."
Eischens pinned three of four opponents in the tournament to remain unbeaten but hasn't been satisfied with his effort all season.
"I haven't been wrestling very well," he said. "I've had a lot of close matches .. but coach (Mark Jensen) has been telling me it's not about the beginning of the year, it's about how you improve throughout the year.
"I want to get to the top. That's what I'm going to keep working at in practice."
Jensen said Eischens hasn't been in top form despite his spotless record.
"He needs to improve on his feet and not give up takedowns," Jensen said, "but to come back and be able to pin a person like that shows what level he's at."
Little Falls coach Mike Hendrickson said Saturday's matchup between the Eischens and Jenks was similar to others they've wrestled in the past.
"Justin kind of got going and got ahead and ended up getting caught and getting pinned," Hendrickson said. "That was a battle. We were ahead probably by 3-4 points. It was a situation where it could have gone either way.
"We kind of got choked out or something because (Jenks) went limp, then that was it, done. We went out there and he said for a minute there he couldn't breathe. It was one of those matches where both were straining. (Eischens has) got huge leverage. Both are long and skinny and strong. (Eischens) just got the upper hand. Obviously he's tough wrestler."
Paul Bunyan Invite Day 2
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Pierz 195-pounder Ted Dehler was the only other lakes area wrestler to place in the top two. He finished second as he dropped a 14-4 major decision against Armstrong's Eri Gonzales in the final.
"Sometimes Teddy gets into trouble because he's so long," Jensen said, "and he has a hard time controlling a tie against a younger, shorter, stockier person. He wrestled a great tournament to get to the finals."
Frazee wins team title
After a one-year absence from the top spot, Class 1A's fifth-ranked Frazee Hornets captured their seventh Bunyan title with 178.5 points. Frazee won three individual titles.
Pierz, ranked 11th in 1A, finished sixth with 121 points.
"I think we placed well for the number of kids we brought here," Jensen said. "I think we had four open weights so I thought the boys wrestled well."
Little Falls placed seventh with 107.5.
"We were kind of where we thought we would be - in the middle," Hendrickson said. "We were without Axel Lange our lone undefeated wrestler. He's out with a shoulder injury. Then we had two injury defaults during the course of this tournament - guys who were going to score points. When you're not full strength, and even when you are, this is a tough tournament. There are a lot of tough wrestlers.
"We'll take what we get. We've been here probably 8-10 years and this is our lowest finish. That happens. We're relatively young - a little green yet."
Brainerd finished 10th in the 14-team event with 93.5 points.
"We kind of knew where we were going to be in this tournament," Boran said. "We had some guys out - some skin stuff, some guys out with injury. We're going to look at it as some of our young kids got some real big experience this weekend. They found out what it's like to be in a good quality wrestling tournament against good quality teams and good kids. Hopefully they'll learn from that and it will help us get better for the future."
Final Team Scores: 1-Frazee 178.5, 2-Moorhead 150.5, 3-Mound-Westonka 147.5, 4-Foley 132.5, 5-Sauk Rapids-Rice 122, 6-Pierz 121, 7-Little Falls 107.5, 8-Bemidji 100, 9-Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 94, 10-Brainerd 93.5, 11-Chisago Lakes 86.5, 12-Grand Rapids 81, 13-Robbinsdale Armstrong 74, 14-Becker 63
106: Championship-Aaron Cashman (MW) maj. dec. Tanner Schermerhorn (Fra) 13-2; 3rd-Zac Spohn (SRR) pinned Devon Nelson (LF) 2:30; 5th-CJ Orsburn (Brd) dec. Reese Kapsner (Prz) 12-6; 7th-Brennan Arndt (ACGC) dec. Jacob Berning (Bec) 12-5
113: Championship-Cole Kubesh (Brd) dec. Hunter Rajkowski (SRR) 7-3; 3rd-Jon Dierkes (Fol) maj. dec. Kellen Schauer (GR) 14-5; 5th-Ben Schmalz (MW) maj. dec. Derrick Kluge (CLC) 9-1; 7th-Jon Solum (Bem) dec. Logan Jurek (Bec) 6-2
120: Championship-Brian Maas (Bem) dec. Cole Jones (GR) 9-3; 3rd-Andy Schlosser (Brd) pinned Tanner Reetz (Fra) 2:23; 5th-Ethan Tallakson (Moor) dec. Rylan Molinaro (ACGC) 3-1; 7th-Austin Loehrer (Fol) dec. Grant Litke (unattached-LF) 4-2
126: Championship-Teddy Pierce (CL) dec. Ethan Byer (Fra) 8-6; 3rd-Grant Brendemuhl (Moor) maj. dec. Tony Bemboom (SRR) 11-1; 5th-Brennen Holien (ACGC) dec. Noah Lefebvre (Fol) 6-0; 7th-Lane Rutten (LF) tech. fall Indi Farris (Bem) 18-2
132: Championship-Taylor Rau (SRR) maj. dec. Lee Schmalz (MW) 12-0;
3rd-Byron Byer (Fra) pinned Logan Kapphahn (LF) 2:49;
5th-Aaron Sistrunk (CL) dec. Joe Palik (GR) 5-4;
7th-Colten Demant (Bec) by default over Drew Breun (Brd)
138: Championship-Sam Bennyhoff (MW) dec. Korey Keske (SRR) 12-7; 3rd-Grant Jepson (Fra) dec. Andrew Tomala (Prz) 5-1; 5th-Dylon Sauceda (Bem) dec. Cameron Whitcomb (ACGC) 11-8; 7th-Mitch Rothford (Fol) dec. Noah Arrogoni (Bec) 3-2;
145: Championship-Dylan Connell (CL) dec. Austin Skillings (Fra) 3-1 ot; 3rd-Ryan Reid (MW) dec. Alex O'Neal (Bem) 6-5; 5th-Josh Beack (LF) by default over Caleb Vekved (Bec); 7th-Taylor Laidlaw (Moor) pinned Noah Byers (unattached) :56;
152: Championship-Jackson Schauer (GR) dec. Luke Schmalz (MW) 3-2; 3rd-Hassan As-Sidiq (RA) dec. Nathan Goulet (Fol) 8-5; 5th-Lane Girtz (Prz) dec. Cody Ferrid Bec) 3-2; 7th-Austin Beaty (Fra) by default over Isaac Schermerhorn (unattached)
160: Championship-Kolton Eischens (Prz) pinned Justin Jenks (LF) 2:18; 3rd-Brandon Jackson (Fol) dec. Wyatt Hanson (Moor) 2-1; 5th-Calvin Streeper (Fra) pinned Austin Nelson GR) 4:09; 7th-Mike Bliskowski (CL) dec. Frankie Baker (Bec) 6-1
170: Championship-Carter Nielsen (Fol) dec. Samuel Grove (Moor) 6-2; 3rd-Derek Dengerud (ACGC) dec. Matt Kummet (Prz) 3-0; 5th-Gannon Strain (Bem) dec. Nathan Graeve (CL) 7-3; 7th-Beau Casteel (GR) dec. Morgan Gibson (Brd) 5-2
182: Championship-Zachary Rygg (RA) dec. Sheldon Rasmussen (ACGC) 5-4; 3rd-Jonah Lange (Fra) dec. Joseph Grove (Moor) 7-5; 5th-Spencer Elwell (Fol) dec. Nick Peterson (Bem) 7-3; 7th-Jesse Roach (LF) pinned Eric Burski (SRR) 1:54
195: Championship-Eri Gonzales (RA) maj. dec. Ted Dehler (Prz) 14-4; 3rd-Dylan Crandall (Brd) pinned Ben Lien (Moor) 3:04; 5th-Mickel Schultz (LF) dec. Jon Olson (Fol) 12-5; 7th-Trevor Goodrich (Bec) dec. Billy Winkleman (unattached-LF) 7-6;
220: Championship-Brody Jerome (Moor) pinned Cody Berghuis (ACGC) 3:02; 3rd-Chris Weberg (Bec) 7-6; 5th-Austin Gall (Prz) by default over Brody Wilander (Bem); 7th-Saylor Schmidt (Fol) pinned Cody Case (unattached) :35;
285: Championship-Garrett Malstrom (Fra) pinned Kyle Johnson (MW) 5:46; 3rd-Grant Trowbridge (Moor) dec. Wyatt Yoemans (Bem) 5-3; 5th-Kolton Farnick (SRR) pinned Jax Ebbenga (CL) 1:11; 7th-Stanley Dokken (RA) pinned Jakob Edling (Bec) 2:18