The Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew wrestling team’s admirable season of team competition came to an end Saturday, Mach 13, with a 47-21 loss to the Princeton Tigers in the Class 2A quarterfinals at Pequot Lakes.

The Road Crew won the opening match against Princeton when Parker Zutter won by decision at 106 pounds. But the Tigers roared back by winning the next eight matches for an insurmountable 41-3 lead. The Road Crew rallied by winning four of the final five matches, but it wasn’t enough.

“We knew Princeton had four kids that were elite, but their team as a whole was physically strong and that led to a few more victories for them,” said Road Crew coach Travis Hoffarth. “We refused to back down all season long, and we didn't against Princeton either, they were just a better team. When you make it as far as we did, you eventually run into a team that is better. In the end there will only be three teams in the state standing. We are proud to be able to say we were in that conversation.”

The Road Crew, which finished 29-5 overall and was seeded No. 2 in Section 8-2A, advanced to state earlier on Saturday by defeating top seed Thief River Falls Prowlers 43-25 in the section final also in Pequot Lakes. It was the Road Crew’s first section title since 2014 and the team’s first time reaching the section final since 2015. Princeton had advanced by defeating Foley 41-26 in the Section 7-2A final.

“We beat (TRF) 51-25 in January, but they beat us 37-29 in February,” Hoffarth said. “That loss was a gut check for our program. We had 37-29 written on the board and the kids knew what that meant. Thief River Falls is a good team and well coached, so we knew they would be ready. Our kids did a great job of putting the team on their back for six minutes at a time and passing the baton to the next guy.”

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The Road Crew won the first six matches against the Prowlers. TRF then won three straight to reduce the deficit, but the Road Crew locked up the section crown on Connor Tulenchik’s technical fall at 170 and Austin Staricha’s pin at 182.

“The kids really wanted it and believed in each other,” Hoffarth said. “Getting a second section title is huge. Our ultimate goal was to put the flag at the top of the mountain and we did that. We didn't get to compete at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul due to Covid, but we got the next best thing and that was wrestling in the state tournament in front of our home crowd in our home gym.”

On Thursday, March 11, in Pine River, the Road Crew won their first two section matches - defeating No. 7 Fergus Falls 81-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Detroit Lakes 37-27 in the semifinals. In those matches, the Road Crew’s Zutter, Easton Miller, Chance Abraham and Matthew Miller all had two pins.

“The win over Detroit Lakes was such a good feeling, because the kids stuck to the plan,” Hoffarth said. “We felt we had them scouted well, and the kids were really focused going into the match. That was the best match we wrestled all year and that is saying something.”

Hoffarth said he expects his squad will be a section contender again next season after setting a program record with 29 wins this year and 27 wins in 2019-20.

“This season was such an amazing journey, and we have all of our starters returning and a lot of other talented kids in the room. We really stress that team always comes first. The kids understand that and every kid in the program whether they are at the junior high, junior varsity or varsity level are a part (of the 56 wins the past two seasons). All of the kids are working hard to make each other better and our program better.”

Section individual competition was scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 16, in Pequot Lakes. The top four finishers in each bracket advance to the super regional Saturday, March 20, in Foley.

Top Road Crew records heading into the section individual tournament included: Tulenchik 33-1, Owen Carlson 32-2, Zutter 30-4, Corbin Knapp 27-7, Easton Miller 23-11, Staricha 22-5, Riley Peters 22-9, Caleb Ruhl 21-10, Max Trumpold 21-12 and Finnegan O'Dell 20-14.



Class 2A state preliminary

Princeton 47, Road Crew 21

106 – Parker Zutter (PLPRB) dec. Deegan Birkaker 8-2

113 – Tyler Wells (Princeton) pinned Tayten Mick :47

120 – Noah Vanderbeek (Princeton) pinned Easton Miller 1:47

126 – Ethan Ballweber (Princeton) dec. Owen Carlson 7-4

132 – Landen Parent (Princeton) pinned Caleb Ruhl 1:01

138 – Kyle Boeke (Princeton) pinned Karsen Kinyon 5:10

145 – Parker Adkins (Princeton) dec. Finnegan O`Dell 7-4

152 – Riley Paetznick-Huhtala (Princeton) pinned Chance Abraham 1:35

160 – Zack Wells (Princeton) tech. fall over Brady Ruhl 21-6

170 – Connor Tulenchik (PLPRB) dec. Zach Marshall 5-1

182 – Austin Staricha (PLPRB) injury default over Malachi Kolhoff :14

195 – Corbin Knapp (PLPRB) dec. Kaden Olsen 7-4

220 – Keith Ellingson (Princeton) pinned Matthew Foster 2:32

285 – Riley Peters (PLPRB) pinned Jackson Berry 5:59



Section 8-2A championship

Road Crew 43, Thief River Falls 25

106 – Zutter (PLPRB) tech. fall over Keigan Hermanson 19-3

113 – Miller (PLPRB) dec. Noah Jacobson 11-6

120 – Max Trumpold (PLPRB) pinned Nick Svir 3:02

126 – Sean Kilpatrick (PLPRB) wins by forfeit

132 – Carlson (PLPRB) dec. Kale Geiser 6-2

138 – Kinyon (PLPRB) dec. Ethan Lane 13-8

145 – Griffin Lundeen (TRF) tech. fall over O`Dell 19-4

152 – Brady Kasprick (TRF) pinned Kinyon 1:19

160 – Cody Wienen (TRF) pinned Abraham 1:24

170 – Tulenchik (PLPRB) tech. Fall over Brandon Zuniga 20-2

182 – Staricha (PLPRB) pinned Dakota Fellman 1:09

195 – Mason Iverson (TRF) dec. Knapp 7-3

220 – Jolson Sargent (TRF) tech. fall over Foster 17-1

285 – Peters (PLPRB) pinned Collin Bruggeman :45



Section 8-2A semifinal

Road Crew 37, Detroit Lakes 27

106 – Zutter (PLPRB) pinned Jared Ohm 1:19

113 – Miller (PLPRB) pinned Izaiah Vargas :58

120 – Cole Weber (DL) pinned Max Trumpold 3:12

126 – Carlson (PLPRB) dec. Tyson Ullyott 6-5

132 – Bradly Swiers (DL) dec. Caleb Ruhl 9-2

138 – Cade Jackson (DL) dec. Kinyon 6-1

145 – Brody Ullyott (DL) dec. O`Dell 2-0

152 – Abraham (PLPRB) pinned Garett Nelson 3:39

160 – Staricha (PLPRB) dec. Thad Schlauderaff 6-5

170 – Blaine Henderson (DL) pinned Trey Tuchtenhagen 3:46

182 – Tulenchik (PLPRB) major dec. over Cale Abraham 16-7

195 – Knapp (PLPRB) dec. Henry Lee 4-0

220 – Foster (PLPRB) pinned Jeffery Moen :45

285 – Andreas Barnett (DL) pinned Peters 1:29



Section 8-2A quarterfinal

Road Crew 81, Fergus Falls 0

106 – Zutter (PLPRB) pinned Blake Roberts :57

113 – Miller (PLPRB) pinned Kassten Hartwell :44

120 – Trumpold (PLPRB) pinned Carson Grenier 3:08

126 – Carlson (PLPRB) won by forfeit

132 – Caleb Ruhl (PLPRB) won by forfeit

138 – Kinyon (PLPRB) won by forfeit

145 – O`Dell (PLPRB) dec. Jacob Widness 4-1

152 – Abraham (PLPRB) pinned Sam Sorum 5:10

160 – Staricha (PLPRB) pinned Jonah Sorum 4:18

170 – Tulenchik (PLPRB) pinned Kaden Hartwell 3:31

182 – Trey Tuchtenhagen (PLPRB) pinned Delvin Roberts 3:56

195 – Knapp (PLPRB) won by forfeit

220 – Foster (PLPRB) pinned Isaac Brunn :29

285 – Peters (PLPRB) won by forfeit