Aitkin Wrestling Club hosted their annual awards banquet Sunday, May 23, at the Aitkin Moose Club to wrap-up the 2021 season.
“It was a different season. We didn’t even know if we would have one,” said coach Larry Liljenquist. “We had to re-schedule three times and were only allowed dual meets, 19-14 season with no tournaments.
“It was a real different feel to the state tournament,” he added. “It maybe wasn’t perfect, but we got to wrestle. Just thankful we got one for the seniors. It was all for the kids.”
Awards were handed out to honor both varsity and junior varsity wrestlers and managers. Receiving Spotlight on Scholar Honors with a GPA of 3.0-3.4 were: Marshall Larson, Jacob Espeseth, Jackson Cline, Isaac Nelson and Isabel Wilcox.
Academic Honors with a GPA of 3.5-3.7 were: Nathan Trotter, Walker Jones, Noelle Jones and Carson Kullhem. High Academic Honors with a GPA of 3.75 or higher were: Maddy Strohmayer, Tyler Franke, James Erickson, Hunter Hills and Lexi Hills.
This year’s Iron Man Awards went to everyone who came out. It was felt they all deserved their sweatshirts for enduring the season.
JV 10-win shirts went to Jake McGuire, Tyler Hacker, Jackson Cline, Kyle Hacker, Andy Hays and Jacob Espeseth. Having the most takedowns for the JV was Tyler Hacker with 26 and for varsity was Marshall Larson with 118.
Awards that were voted on by teammates were: “Up & Coming” – Sure to turn some heads in the future, went to John Pelarski; “Best Role Model” – Making the right decisions on and off the mat – Hunter Hills; “Brave Heart Award” – Not afraid to try a new move – Kenny Erickson and Jack Grell; “Toughest Wrestler” – On and off the mat – Marshall Larson; “Best Team Mate” – One you want in your fox hole – Hunter Hills; “Most Improved” – Kenny Erickson; “Spark Plug Award” – One who never quits – Nathan Trotter.
The Outstanding Wrestler Award went to Marshall Larson with a 37-3 season record, placing fourth at the state finals and having the fastest pin in :21. Hunter Hills had the longest pin.
Receiving Mid-State All-Conference honors for this year were Marshall Larson, Carson Kullhem and Nathan Trotter. Receiving for last year which had not been handed out were Marshall Larson and Carson Kullhem, all conference and honorable mentions were Nathan Trotter and Walker Jones.
Coach’s Spark Plug Awards went to Kenny Erickson for varsity and Kyle Hacker for JV.
The Noel Bailey Award is given to a wrestler who goes above and beyond to help someone else and this year’s recipient was Hunter Hills.
All team members received a 2021 Minnesota State Wrestling award for advancing and Marshall Larson received a two-time State Place Winner plaque and his fourth place 2021 State medal.
Marshall Larson, Carson Kullhem, James Erickson and Nathan Stifter were named captains for the 2021-22 season.