The Vikings, having qualified five individuals for the state class AA tournament, wound up with one medalist as heavyweight Brandon Swanson earned fifth place.
The senior’s tournament started in atypical form as he was pushed to wrestle the entire six minutes, picking up a deciding 17-5 win anyway. The next round was more normal, as Swanson earned a pin in just 28 seconds. Unfortunately, the tables were turned in the semifinals as Swanson was pinned in 45 seconds, sending him to the consolation round, where he experienced another pinfall defeat. Fittingly, Swanson’s final match, which was for fifth place, also ended with a pin in favor of the Viking wrestler.
Brandt Bombard, at 126 pounds, was the only other Viking to win his opening-round match, via a 7-1 decision. The freshman lost his next match via pinfall, but did get one more victory via a 5-1 decision in wrestlebacks before getting eliminated by a 5-4 loss.
Of the other three Vikings, only Austin Sonnek was able to wrestle once more after losing his opening match. However, he fell in that match as well. Josh Logan and Trevor Anderson also both lost their opening-round matches, but were eliminated without wrestling again after their opponents lost their next match.
The Vikings had a very busy ending to their regular season, playing three games last week. Two of those games were makeup games for ones delayed due to weather earlier in the season. For the week, the team went 1-2 as they fell to Rogers 79-58 and Buffalo 76-50, but then defeated St. Francis 51-48 to end the season.
Senior Zach Gazda led the team in both the St. Francis win and the Buffalo loss, picking up 13 and 18 points, respectively. He also broke the school’s all-time rebounding record against the Bison.
Against Rogers, Drew VanEerden was North Branch’s leading scorer, picking up 16 points.
With their 5-21 record, the Vikings were given the #8 seed and faced #1 seed Princeton on Tuesday, March 5.
The Vikings wound up losing that game to the Tigers 82-64, ending their season.
The girls’ season came to an end in the Section 7AAA quarterfinals as the team lost to Hibbing 66-48. The #7 seed Vikings gave the #2 seed Bluejackets all they could handle, trailing Hibbing by just four points at halftime and even taking the lead early in the second half.
But Hibbing regrouped and got some key baskets by a couple bench players to regain the lead. After that, head coach Alison Trampe says the Vikings “ran out of gas,” and Hibbing’s top scorer took control of the game to lead the favored Bluejackets to the win.
Offensively, Paige Peaslee led the Vikings with 14 points, with Kate Carlson’s 13 points close behind.