Male Area Athlete of the Week: Larson notches 100th win as No. 1 ranked wrestler

Aitkin junior gets his 100th win against North Branch while continuing his undefeated season after a third-place finish in last year's state tournament

Marshall Larson.

Marshall Larson wants to get back to state.

The Aitkin junior is well on his way as the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 120 pounds in Class 1A.

Last week, Larson went 4-0 with wins over North Branch, Anoka, Brainerd and Proctor. He picked up his 100th win against North Branch in a forfeit.

“What’s gotten him to where he is at is his intensity and work ethic,” Aitkin head coach Larry Liljenquist said. “He’s definitely a leader on the mat and off the mat. He does everything right in what he is supposed to be doing. He’s always looking to improve.”

Larson said it felt good to finally reach 100 career wins.


“It’s a good milestone to keep pushing for another one,” he said. “My mindset was to do the job for the team and get it done for the team.”

In his other matches last week, Larson picked up a 1:42 fall against Anoka’s Nate Nosko, a 22-9 major decision over Brianerd’s Isaiah Germann and another forfeit win over Proctor.

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“It’s good for our team to go up against some bigger schools,” Larson said. “To keep pushing the competition through the year.”

His record for 2021 stands at 14-0 with six falls, two technical falls, two major decisions and four forfeits.

Last season wrestling at 106 pounds, Larson finished in third place in the Class 1A state individual tournament with a 3-2 decision over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle’s Braden Thorn.

Larson finished the season with a 50-6 record.

“He’s obviously trying to improve that,” Liljenquist said. “Certainly, he has the skill to do that. He’s a great example for the rest of the team.”


Last year’s state run is a big motivation for Larson this season.

“It’s a lot of motivation to get on top of the podium,” he said. “I learned that I’ve got to keep grinding and pushing to make my weight and get to the top.”

Being No. 1 in his weight class this season isn’t something Larson talks about much with his coaches or teammates.

“I don’t really look at rankings very much, and they don’t really bother me too much,” Larson said. “I proved a lot of people wrong last year. The rankings don’t matter and there is always someone better than you.”

Liljenquist says that Larson knows he has a target on his back.

“He’s been staying humble and yet still intense,” Liljenquist said. “He’s been working on the mental aspect of the game which is important.

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“We don’t talk about (him being the No. 1 ranked wrestler). You just realize when you go out there that people are expecting great things and so far he’s done it. He’s handled that pressure well.”


Larson’s go-to move on the mat is attacking from the neutral position.

“I have a lot of confidence on my feet,” Larson said. “I just need to work on getting out of the bottom and being tough on top.”

His quickness stands out to Liljenquist.

“When he’s on his feet, he’s strong at getting takedowns and very quick,” Liljenquist said. “He does a good job at moving his feet, but the neutral takedown position is where he excels the best.”

The jump to 120 from 106 has been an easy transition for Larson.

“It’s not much different,” he said. “It feels the same almost, honestly, I just grew a lot.”

He’s wrestled a little bit at 126 and 132 this year to get some better competition.

“He’s done well going up a couple of weights,” Liljenquist said. “I try to bump him up more weights to try and push him.”


Liljenquist has seen Larson grow a lot since he started wrestling in the eighth grade. He doesn’t make excuses for his struggles like he used to and Liljenquist credits that to his maturity.

“He realizes that he has control in a lot of his destiny and how he does,” Liljenquist said. “He is also teaching other kids in the room that there are things we can’t control and Marshall does a good job of realizing the things he can control.

“As he’s grown he’s become more coachable and he’s been a good kid to coach.”

As the season progresses, Liljenquist wants to continue to see Larson improve as much as possible. He knows he hasn’t seen as tough as competition this year with no individual tournaments being held, but his work ethic has stayed consistent.

“He realizes there’s a target on his back and I expect great things from him,” Liljenquist said. “He’s more than capable of becoming a state champion. We don’t have the open tournaments like we used to. Otherwise, there are definitely kids that would challenge him.”

Larson credits Liljenquist for helping him be successful.

“He’s helped me mentally getting to that 120,” Larson said. “It was a little bit of a struggle at first, but now it’s easy. I’m glad he made me cut last week to get to it.”

The end goal is an undefeated state title.


“Just taking it one match at a time and trying to find the tougher opponent and seeing if we match up,” Larson said.

Other notable performances:
Basketball: Bode Magnuson, Pequot Lakes, scored 21 points against Detroit Lakes and scored 27 points against Esko.
Champ Howard, Pine River-Backus, scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Red Lake.
Jared Hamilton, Pine River-Backus, scored 25 points against Red Lake.
Zach Gwost, Little Falls, scored 24 points against Foley.
Sivert Klefsaas, Staples-Motley, scored 27 points against Aitkin.
Hockey: Robby Kuchinski-Helgeson, Little Falls, scored two goals against Mound Westonka.
Tyler Seeling, Northern Lakes, scored a hat trick against Prairie Centre.
Wrestling: Connor Tulenchik, Pine River-Backus, earned two wins by pin against Big Lake and Minnetonka. Tulenchik also picked up wins against Wadena-Deer Creek and United North Central.
Owen Carlson, PL/PRB, recorded his 75th win going 4-0 on the week.

Marshall Larson

Year: Junior

School: Aitkin

Sport: Wrestling

Position: 120 pounds

Highlights: Recorded his 100th win after earning two wins against North Branch and Anoka. Larson also went 2-0 against Brainerd and Proctor.


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