Vikings host home invite

NB takes third, RC places fourth

The North Branch wrestling team held an eight-team invite Friday night, where the Vikings placed third overall with 186 points, followed by Rush City/Braham in fourth place (100 points).

Centennial took first place with 233.5 points, followed by Grand Rapids with 222.5 points.

The Vikings had five grapplers compete in the title matchup, with four taking top honors.

Senior Reed Johnson held his own at 132 pounds for North Branch, winning all three matches over Naswauk-Keewatin-Greenway, Washington Technology and Centennial by falls on his way to a first-place finish.

Senior Aaron Senne also captured first place at 145 pounds, pinning his Pine City opponent in the first round, then winning by decision over Centennial before facing Jackson Schauer of Grand Rapids in the title match. Senne won 3-1 in a tiebreaker sudden-victory effort.

At 152 pounds, junior Cameron Sampson earned first place by defeating two Centennial grapplers on his way to a 10-3 over Beau Casteel of Grand Rapids in the championship match.

Senior Tristan LaBelle (13-5) captured first at 182 pounds, wrestling a total of just 2:07 on the day. After landing a first-round bye, LaBelle defeated Rush City senior Chase Grant by fall in 1:41 before winning by fall in 26 seconds over Kaleb Miller of Grand Rapids for the title.

Senior Seamus Hunter was the final Viking to take top honors on the day at 285 pounds and also took care of business quickly in all three matchups. Hunter pinned his Washington opponent in 38 seconds to open the first round, then took down Grand Rapids in 18 seconds before defeating Centennial’s Joe Nelson in 1:40 for first place. The heavyweight jumped up in the rankings again, this time securing the No. 5 spot in Class AA.

Senior Alex Fitcha also made it to the finals, taking second place after winning by fall over both Grand Rapids and Rush City’s Francis Loerzel before losing 13-10 to Noah Hervert-Sikkink of Centennial.

Ninth-grader Ryan Senne placed fourth at 106 pounds while senior Mitch Anderson took fourth at 195 pounds. Junior Kody Strohmayer (120 pounds), sophomore Thomas Steele (126) and junior Arik Steele (160) all clinched fifth place at their home invitational.

The Vikings also traveled to the Cambridge-Isanti duals on Saturday and went 0-3 on the day as a team.

North Branch is now 1-14 in dual meets and next travel to the Grand Rapids Invite on Saturday, Jan. 25.

On the Rush City side, Jake Lynch put on an exhibition of pins at 195 pounds. The junior defeated his first foe from Fridley in 43 seconds before taking down Anderson of North Branch in 2:58. Lynch then defeated Will Rusch of Grand Rapids by fall in the second period for the title.

Senior Tyler Sitz captured third place at 126 pounds; he defeated Thomas Steele of North Branch by decision in the opening round before losing to Centennial. Sitz went on to beat Wee Htoo of Washington by fall for third place honors.

Loerzel also took third. The 138-pounder beat Washington in the first round and, following a loss to Fitcha of North Branch, went on to pin his Fridley opponent in the third period.

Ninth-grader Dylan Mielke placed fourth on the day at 132 pounds alongside junior Brian Nelson (145 pounds), junior Luke Rands (170), senior Chase Grant (182). Senior Collin Yaritz wrestled his way back to a fifth-place finish at 220 pounds after a first-round loss to Centennial.

The Tigers also traveled to Cloquet/Esko last Thursday and fell 60-12 in the Great River Conference and section matchup. The loss was Rush City’s first in dual matches and brings the teams overall record to 4-1.

The Tigers are back in action on Saturday, Jan. 25, as they also travel to the Grand Rapids Invite.

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