March 4, 2010 at 9:56 a.m.

State tournament feeding frenzy begins for Chisago County grapplers

Familiar lineup of Bergerson, Morrison and Kostik advance, younger Mork joins them
State tournament feeding frenzy begins for Chisago County grapplers
State tournament feeding frenzy begins for Chisago County grapplers

It will seem like déjà vu for much of the Viking wrestling contingent heading down to the Xcel Center in St. Paul this week. After earning berths in the Section 7AA tournament, at North Branch, junior Jake Kostik (119), junior Justin Bergerson (215) and senior John Morrison (285) will wrestle at the state tourney for the second year in a row. Pat Mork (140), whose brother Tom made the trip last year, will join the three repeaters at State.

The opening round matches for all four wrestlers were scheduled yesterday afternoon. Matches will continue at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. today. Wrestlers who do well will also have a chance to compete on Friday and Saturday. Please check mshsl.org or theguillotine.com for match dates and times for your favorites.

At sections in North Branch, Kostik's first two matches went quickly. He pinned Billy McClay of Princeton just 48 seconds into their opening round match and then pinned Bryce Ortloff of Deer River at 2:33 in the semifinal match. Kostik, ranked sixth in the state, faced seventh-ranked Jonah Gahm, a freshman from Milaca, in the section final. Kostik beat Gahm in a tough match 9-7 to become the section champion and earn a trip to the state tournament. "Jake has been wrestling great lately," said Viking head coach Tony Aho. "He is highly ranked and looks as though he can go down to St. Paul and place. His intensity is awesome and he is very technically sound."

Mork's path through section took a little while longer, but ended with a very exciting match. Mork won by major decision, 14-2, over Levi Balek of Hibbing in the opening round. In the quarterfinals, he pinned Seth Barnes of Rush City at 5:20. In the semifinals, Mork fell behind early against a pretty tough kid, Luke Belair of Princeton, but came back to beat Belair 6-4. The semifinal victory set up a championship match with Andrew Youngbloom, of Mora, the top-ranked 140-pounder in the state. Youngbloom pinned Mork 55 seconds into the match. Aho said "Pat had to rebuild his confidence after the loss in order to get ready for his true second match." Pat faced a very determined senior Scott Mickle of Deer River in the match and won 11-9 in overtime. "Pat had to really dig deep to come up with the win in overtime," said coach Aho. "We are very proud of his effort and are looking forward to watching him fly around at state."

Bergerson created some excitement while earning his spot at the state tournament. In the quarterfinals, he pinned Jared Greenwood, of Hibbing, with six seconds left in the second period. In the semifinals, he faced eighth-ranked Tyler Carlson, of Mora. Carlson had beaten Bergerson twice already this season. The third time was the charm for Bergerson, as he beat Carlson 10-4. Aho said, "Justin' s huge win in the semi-finals was the highlight of the tourney."

Bergerson went up against fifth-ranked Marshall Ash of Milaca in the finals. Ash, a senior, beat Bergerson 9-0. But Greenwood won his third place match. Bergerson, having defeated Greenwood earlier in the tournament, became a state entrant at 215.

Aho said, "Justin will face some very tough competition early in the state tournament, but is capable of getting a medal."

Morrison showed that he's ready to go a long way at state. He beat Marshall Hopp, of Milaca 7-0 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he beat the undersized-but-always-tough Dylan Hoyt 3-1. And in the finals, Big John beat the second-ranked heavyweight in the state, senior Derek Carlson, of Mora, 4-3 in overtime.

"John has been working very hard to get as far as he can this year," said Aho. "He is very focused and determined and it showed in this tourney. In the finals, he beat the #2 ranked heavyweight in the state, so I think that he can go down to St. Paul and make some noise."

Two other Vikings placed at the section tourney. Reid Johnson (112), an eighth-grader, finished fourth, and junior Stuart Frink (189) came in fifth. "Reid is young, so we are very proud that he was able to place highly at this tournament," said Aho. "He is a very special young man and we'll hear more from him in the future. Stuart also had a good tournament and season. He just needs to get a little bigger and he will be making the trip to state next year."

Aho continued, "I would personally like to thank the North Branch Wrestling Association, as well as high school activities director Mike Cunningham, for making the Section 7AA tournament a huge success. We received many compliments from coaches, wrestlers and fans and all the credit should be given to these great people. Also, our fans were simply fantastic this season. Without you folks, this would not be nearly as fun as it has been."


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