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Mantorville native Bennett Berge reaches U-20 World Championships final

It was just five months ago that former Kasson-Mantorville wrestler Bennett Berge won his fifth high school state title. Now, the South Dakota State University freshman grappler is one win away from a gold medal with Team USA.

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Kasson-Mantorville's Bennett Berge defeats Simley's Soren Herzog in a 195-pound Class AA Individual Championship match Saturday, March 5, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Berge is now a five-time State Champion.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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SOFIA, BULGARIA — Just five months ago, Bennett Berge capped his senior season for the Kasson-Mantorville wrestling team with his fifth consecutive Class A individual state championship and a 52-0 record.

Now, he is dominating on the world stage.

Berge — competing at 86 kg (190 pounds) — will go for a gold medal at the 2022 U20 World Championships on Wednesday after rallying from an early deficit against Ismail Kucuksolak of Turkey in a semifinal on Tuesday in Sofia, Bulgaria.

At first, though, it didn't look promising.

Berge found himself trailing the 2021 U20 bronze medalist 5-0 entering the second period after Kucuksolak secured a four-point takedown.

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Yet, all that seemed to do was light a fire underneath the Mantorville native. Berge secured five consecutive step outs, before adding a pair of takedowns to punch his ticket to Wednesday's championship match.

Medal matches are set for 10 a.m. central time (6 p.m. local time). Berge will face returning U20 World silver medalist Rakhim Magamadov of France. The match is available to stream with a FloWrestling.org subscription.

Berge breezed into the semifinals with a dominating showing on Monday. He picked up three consecutive wins by technical falls, defeating Gurgen Simonyan of Armenia 10-0, Hungary's Nandor Hajduch 12-2 and Ukraine's Nazar Dod 10-0.

Berge earned a spot on the 10-member Team USA after winning the 86-kg title at the United World Wrestling World Team Trials in Geneva, Ohio, in early June. He has been accompanied and coached in Bulgaria by his brother, former Penn State wrestler and current South Dakota State University assistant coach Brady Berge.

At the high school level, Bennett Berge totaled 241 career victories, posting a 124-1 record over his final three seasons at Kasson-Mantorville. He won five consecutive individual state titles at five different weight classes (138, 160, 170, 182, 195). He is committed to wrestle in college at South Dakota State, a Division I program, beginning this fall.

The senior is one of just seven wrestlers in the state of Minnesota to capture five individual state titles.

Link to stream Berge's championship bout

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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