Section 7AA wrestling competition began on Thursday, Feb. 16, in Pierz, Hibbing and Cloquet, for a chance to be crowned Section 7AA champions and advance to the State Tournament, which begins on Thursday, March 2, in St. Paul.
Mora, the number one seed, awaited the winner of the Rush City/Braham vs Hinckley/Pine City match, in which Rush City/Braham won 49-27. Mora easily handled Rush City/Braham, beating them 57-16. The victory sent them into the semifinals to face the number five seed Aitkin on Friday, Feb. 17, in Cloquet.
Last year at sections, Mora, the number two seed at the time, upset the number one seed this season during a Mora individual tournament back on Jan. 7, placing first place with 217.5 points. Andover took second place with 173 points and right behind them was third place Aitkin with 164.5 points.
“It’s hard to explain, but I knew they were very capable of beating us, and I didn’t want anyone saying we looked past the fifth seed with the record of 12-11,” said head coach Tom Youngblom. “The Aitkin team we saw last Friday was not seen during the regular season. Aitkin has a formidable team, and I knew they matched up well with us. We had to wrestle that match like it was the finals.”
Aitkin took a 9-0 lead before Mason Nelson (120 lb) beat Jacob McGuire by fall to make it 9-6. Aitkin bounced back and held a 21-12 lead at the halfway point.
“When Carter Gmahl got hurt at 138 lb in that close match with three seconds left, giving Aitkin three more points, I was pretty nervous,” said Youngblom. “But like the Foley dual when we were down 19-0, someone had to step up, and Avery Nelson (152 lb) and Tucker Hass (170 lb) did that for us today. Avery had been pinned by his opponent in the Mora Tournament and Tucker had never beaten his opponent. Those two wins were dynamite. Then Jared Yates wrestled a very tough opponent to a decision and Brock Peterson sealed the dual win with a pin at 195 lb. It’s been this team’s MO. Someone always steps up and performs when needed.”
Also contributing big in the Aitkin dual was Nathan Nelson (132 lb), and Connor Gmahl (160 lb) winning by fall. Dyllon Adams (220 lb) won via forfeit.
Heading back to State
The championship match versus Grand Rapids, which was right after the Pierz dual, was a different level of competition. Mora won 55-21 versus the one seed from the north bracket. Mora won 10 of the 14 weight classes, seven of which were by fall; Stratton Nelson, Carter Gmahl, Avery Nelson, Connor Gmahl, Tucker Hass, Brock Peterson and Dyllon Adams. Nathan Nelson won by tech-fall (20-5). Mason Nelson won 11-3, and Jared Yates won 14-2 in the Section 7AA championship match.
Mora returns to the State Meet for the second year in a row. “I’m very proud,” said Youngblom. “Going to state is a huge accomplishment. Going to state in back-to-back years is a dream of our program. I feel like it says a lot about the entire program; the parents, kids, coaches, alumni coming into practice, the fans and school administration all have all played important roles. There are so many moving parts to our program, it’s impossible to give credit to everyone that has helped get us back to state. But I can honestly say it’s not just happenstance that we are successful, there are a lot of people that can take credit for Mora Wrestling’s success.”
They will be joined by their much larger AA counterparts Becker, Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus, Simley, New Prague, Kasson, Totino-Grace and Dawson Boyd. Mora finds out who they will dual first at the state meet on Tuesday evening, Feb. 21, when the brackets come out. They will compete Thursday, March 2, at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. Before that, Mora wrestlers will compete individually for a chance to reach state on an individual level on Saturday, Feb. 25, in Rush City High School.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.