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Vikings on hot start in wrestling

This area is rife with quality wrestling programs, and Pelican Rapids is starting to elbow its way into the conversation. The Vikings are off to a 12-2 start in duals this season, led by four state qualifiers from a year ago. They haven't lost to...

This area is rife with quality wrestling programs, and Pelican Rapids is starting to elbow its way into the conversation.

The Vikings are off to a 12-2 start in duals this season, led by four state qualifiers from a year ago.

They haven't lost to a Minnesota team, as the only two defeats came against Central Cass and Fargo North.

"Those four guys have played a very big part in the record we've put together so far this year," Pelican Rapids coach Harold Holt said.

Those four seniors are Justin Meyer, Alin Bakken, Sam Klovstad and McKale Evenson.

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Bakken is at 120 wins on his career, giving him an chance at hitting the school record of 142 by Kip Anderson.

What makes the group so good is its coachability, Holt said - and one can bet those seniors are polite about it.

Three of the four returning state qualifiers - Bakken, Evenson and Klovstad - are Eagle Scouts.

"They're humble, and they do their job," Holt said. "They're dependable workers, and they're willing to try anything.

"They may not get some things the first or second try, but they'll keep going and get it on the third or fourth."

Three of the four wrestlers are ranked in The Guillotine's individual rankings.

Evenson is fifth in the 189-pound class. Meyer is ranked eighth at 112, while Bakken is eighth at 125.

Evenson picked up his 100th career win last week.

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The team is listed in the "Lean and Mean" section of the team rankings.

"Sure, those guys look at that stuff," Holt said. "There are years where you don't want to be ranked because the guys might worry about it and not be able to handle it.

"That's not this group, though."

The hot start could hit a rough patch. The Vikings take on Frazee tonight and Border West on Monday.

After the holidays, they face Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale on Jan. 8 and Class 2A power Perham on Jan. 13.

"Hopefully we're not 12-6 after that happens," Holt said. "But those will be good tests. Their might be a few bumps in the road, but we're focusing toward February and March."

The Vikings are in Class 1A, Section 6, meaning they will have to earn a spot in the state dual tournament in March.

The likes of Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale and Wadena-Deer Creek are also in that section. And don't forget defending section champ New York Mills, which is tough once again.

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"New York Mills has been very tough, and teams like (Staples-Motley) and Wadena are pretty tough, too," Holt said. "But some people have been saying that Pelican Rapids is a team to look out for, too.

"But like I said, we're just going to work toward February and March."

LaValle hits milestone

Pelican Rapids' Evenson wasn't the only wrestler to pick up a big win in the last week.

Former Moorhead grappler Justin LaValle scored his 150th career victory last Saturday. LaValle transferred to Apple Valley last season, was the state champion at 130 pounds.

Readers can reach Forum sports writer

Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548.

Collins' blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com

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