Wrestling team ends season with state success

Senior Josh Jessen wrestles his St. Paul opponent at the state wrestling duals. Jessen ended his season with a 42-8 record. (Heidi Krajicek)

With eight wrestlers qualifying for state, five making it past the first round, and two finishing as state champions, the Yutan wrestling team ended their 2022 wrestling season with success.

“We had a strong season as a team.  Qualifying for State Duals was a big goal we accomplished. Six boys as state qualifiers tied our school record. Two hundred ninety-seven team pins is a new record, and the girls were just dominant all year,” said head wrestling coach Jason Arlt. 

Before state, the team had to get past the challenges at districts. 

“My third match I didn’t really feel well,” said junior Janson Pilkington, who had a record of 2-2 at state. “I was able to overcome it and pinned him in the third period.” 

As the team was able to overcome their difficulties, six wrestlers earned a ticket to state. Senior Josh Jessen viewed qualifying differently. 

“I just viewed it as something, like the next step,” said Jessen. “I knew I had to qualify in order to meet my goals and do what I wanted to do that season.”

Unfortunately, Jessen wasn’t able to finish due to several ligament tears in his arm. Jessen left with a record of 1-2 at state.

Besides injuries, experience also came into play. With some of the top wrestlers in the state, it can bring disadvantages towards younger or less experienced wrestlers. 

“In the heartbreak round I had a disadvantage, strategy-wise, going up against a senior,” said sophomore Derek Wacker, who went 2-2 at the state tournament. “Looking back now, there are multiple things I could have done in my final match that would have changed the outcome of me being eliminated or placing.”

Freshman Aubrie Pehrson wrestles her Lakeview opponent at the state wrestling tournament. Pehrson went undefeated throughout the 2022 wrestling season. (Heidi Krajicek)

The bright spot of the state tournament was Yutan’s very first state wrestling champions were female wrestlers, freshmen Aubrie and Alexis Pehrson. The girls had many different emotions while wrestling at their first state tournament.

“It was so nerve-racking. Thousands of people watching you and being ranked number one was just a lot of pressure,” said Alexis Pehrson. “I didn’t want to get upset or have anything bad happen. I just didn’t want to mess up.” 

Making state isn’t always about the pressure and nerves, though. Junior Trevin Arlt talked about his favorite memory of state this year. 

“Definitely winning my first match in overtime,” said Arlt, who won his first match and finished the tournament with a record of 1-2.

Despite the challenges the wrestlers faced, the team ended their season feeling accomplished. 

 “I felt really accomplished and proud of myself because I put in a lot of work during off-season to get to this point,” said Aubrie Pehrson.