COVID conditions will be ‘different’ for matmen; but good experience an asset for Pelican

Conference: Heart O’ Lakes

Section: 6A

Coaching staff, years of experience: 

Harold Holt 38 years in Pelican 

Record 272-414-4

41 total years: 299-438-4

Dylan Evenson 7

Aaron Kapenga 5

Carlos Gutierrez 2

Gutierrez is a 2013 graduate of Pelican who wrestled a 62-49 career record. Last year a part time volunteer due to school obligations, this year he will be able to be full time volunteer

Last year’s record: 14-8

Highlights from last season:

• Matt Ziebell earning a 3rd trip to state

• As a team earned Wrestling Coaches Academic Award for the 18th time over the last 20 years

• Matt Ziebell earned over 100 varsity wins

• Johnny Ziebell and Sebastian Centeno both earned their 60th career varsity wins and 25 varsity pins

• 14 dual match wins, the first time double digit wins since 2012-13, this is the third highest season wins for the Vikings.

Key wrestlers graduated: 

Matthew Ziebell, who compiled a 37-9 record last season. He is seventh on all time varsity wins with 118 with 48 pins.

Maxwell Dykhoff, who wrestled a 24-15 last year. Dykhoff broke broke Escape Record. He finished his career with Finished with 44 varsity wins and 23 pins

“We will have a good group of letter winners from last year,” reported Coach Holt. “We will be led by Johnny Ziebell who earned a trip to state as a 10th grader and junior.”

There will be 10 junior and sophmore letter winners this year, filling in the middle and upper weights.

The Vikings have 19 7-9 graders out for the team. “Many of the 9th graders have had some varsity matches and are ready for the challenge of being on the varsity full time at the lower weights,” noted Coach Holt. 

Depending on how the weights are Pelican should fill out all 14 weight classes.

Staying health and injury free will be a key. 

“We do not have a lot of depth and if the wrong wrestler is out of the lineup it could hurt the team’s performance,” said Holt.

Top teams in section and conference:

Perham & Frazee


Otter Tail Central 

West Central Area 

Bertha Hewitt/Verndale-Parkers Prairie

General coach’s comments: 

One of our goals is to be one of the top four teams in the sections again this year so we can host an opening round match of the team tournament.

With COVID moving the season back six weeks, we as coaches and wrestlers are excited that we are going to have a season. 

Wrestlers and coaches have always been concerned about skin issues, this year we will also have to be vigilante about COVID protection. Some of the things we have done in the past will make us better prepared for this season.

We will be using hand sanitizer like we have in the past and will have wrestlers wearing neck gaiter – masks. We have also daily washed the mats and have washed the varsity uniforms before each match. The wrestlers are used to being sent home if they are not feeling well. The wrestlers will be in pods of three or four so there will be less wrestler contact.

COVID precautions in force for wrestling meets

Matches will be different also, there will be limits on the number of fans, like volleyball this fall. There will be no tournaments during the season, there can only be two event dates per week, with no consecutive dates. Most of the dates will be triangle meets.

The wrestling family, fans, parents, coaches and wrestlers, will all have to have a different mindset this year. The season could end at any time because of COVID. There may be matches cancelled, seasons shortened, or the post season might end before state, like the football post season. With only 32 matches this year, last year there could be 45 going into postseason, each match will have an added importance for section seeding.

Wrestlers with some varsity experience 

Daniel Diaz 10 4-5

Jack Kapenga 8 3- 8

Mark Kapenga 8 1-4

Troy Bell 10 3-9

Parker Sanchez 9 1-0

Abraham Gonzalez 9 4-1

Carter Freking 9 0-4

Phillip Dykhoff 9 0-2