State Wrestling: Road Crew back in state team tournament
Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew prepare for state team tournament Thursday, March 2
ST. PAUL — For the second time in three years, the Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew will participate in the Class 2A State Team Wrestling Tournament.
This time, however, unlike 2021, it’ll be at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Road Crew (30-1) earned the No. 5 seed in the Class 2A State Team Tournament and will match up with the No. 4 seed Becker Bulldogs (22-5) 11 a.m. Thursday, March 2.
“They are a tough team,” Road Crew head coach Travis Hoffarth said. “Honestly, they are the best team we will have seen at this point. When you get to the state tournament, everyone is extremely tough. At the same time, I see some points we can put up to compete with them. They are favored, but if we wrestle to our abilities I think we can hang with them.”
The semifinal match is set for 1 p.m. along with a potential consolation semifinal match. The Class 2A Team Finals are scheduled for 7 p.m. with third place and fifth place at 5 p.m.
In 2021, the Road Crew reached the state quarterfinals and lost to Princeton 47-21. The state team format was modified that season due to COVID-19.
“We are extremely excited to go down and have the opportunity to compete for our program and our schools,” Hoffarth said. “It’ll be an awesome experience. We got to do it in 2014 and unfortunately, we missed out on getting the true experience in 2021 due to COVID, so this is our second time going down to the Xcel Energy Center.”
The Road Crew’s path to a Section 8-2A Title was a dramatic one. After knocking off Alexandria in the quarterfinals, the Road Crew, who were the No. 2 seed in the East, eliminated the top seed in the West, Thief River Falls.
The Prowlers knocked off the Road Crew in last year’s section final, so it was a chance at revenge for PL/PRB.
“We told the team before we started that if we wrestle to our ability we thought we were the best team in the section,” Hoffarth said. “Last year, we felt the same way, but we didn’t prove it. We saw them in the semifinals and we liked that match-up.”
The Road Crew jumped to a 22-0 advantage against Thief River Falls in the semifinal match. The Prowlers inched back to cut the Road Crew lead to 25-24 with four matches left.
Trey Tuchtenhagen won a 9-6 decision at 182 and Corbin Knapp earned a fall at 195 to give the Road Crew breathing room. When Thief River Falls responded with a pin at 220, it all came down to the last match at 285 with the Road Crew leading 32-30.
Riley Peters got a 9-5 decision to advance PL/PRB into the section finals.
Hoffarth was anticipating facing Perham for the chance to go to state. The Yellowjackets were the only team to beat the Road Crew in the regular season and were the top seed in the East.
However, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton upset Perham 34-21 in the other semifinal to join the Road Crew in the finals.
“We were prepared for Perham in the finals, but DGF was wrestling really well and made the finals,” Hoffarth said. “Of all the teams that made the semifinals we matched up well with them and so once we got the exciting victory over Thief River Falls we knew DGF would be waiting for us and we thought we had nine wins on paper and we got eight of them and advanced to the state tournament. The kids have worked really hard for this and it’s exciting to see their hard work pay off.”
PL/PRB knocked off DGF 36-23 to get back to the state tournament.
Along with the whole team going, the Road Crew sent five individuals to state in Parker Zutter, Easton Miller, Tuchtenhagen, Knapp and Peters.
“If you look at what we’ve been doing the last few weeks with sections, wrestling two or three times in a row in a week is nothing out of the ordinary,” Hoffarth said. “They are used to it and in good shape. We will be ready to go.”
The Road Crew had multiple wrestlers reach milestones in the Section 8-2A Individual Tournament including Earl Stokman winning his 50th match, Peters notched his 100th win and Knapp got his 150th win.
Class 2A Team Wrestling State Tournament
Matchups: No. 1 Simley vs. Totino-Grace; No. 4 Becker vs. No. 5 Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus; No. 2 New Prague vs Mora; No. 3 Kasson-Mantorville vs Dawson-Boyd-Lac Qui Parle-Montevideo
Times: Quarterfinals 11 a.m.; Semifinals 1 p.m.; Consolation Semifinals 1 p.m.; Consolation Finals 5 p.m.; Third-Place 5 p.m.; Finals 7 p.m.
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.