Byron's Petersen wins individual title; Lake City's Balow places second at Minnesota Christmas Tournament

The four-time state finalist put on a clinic in the two-day tournament.

Minnesota Christmas Tournament
Byron senior Maxwell Petersen (left) gets ready to make his move against Lakeville North's Zach Hanson during the 145-pound title match at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament Saturday at RCTC.

Ask anyone and they will tell you the same thing about Max Petersen: He simply loves to compete against the best.

That's why just two weeks ago, Byron's four-time state finalist was a tad disappointed he didn't get to face off against Lakeville North standout Zach Hanson at the Lakeville North Panther Invite.

Hanson wrestled at 152-pounds, while Petersen was at 145 with both winning a title that day.

But Saturday, the two collided in the 145-pound title match at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament.

And it was Petersen who put on an absolute clinic, especially in the second period, as he knocked off the two-time state finalist and Stanford University commit by a 7-3 decision Saturday at Rochester Regional Sports Center.


It was Petersen's first Christmas title.

"This tournament is harder than I'd say even state," Petersen said. "You have so many kids from around the country, nationally-ranked, all different divisions."

After a scoreless first period, Petersen showed his dominance.

Using his incredible speed and strength, the North Dakota State University commit broke a 1-1 tie with a takedown followed by a two-second nearfall shortly after to take control, 5-1.

"I wanted to get his hands down, be loose, be free and be explosive," Petersen said. "Then use lateral motion and hand fighting. I also wanted a couple takedowns and a turn — just to show dominance that I can beat him in all positions, really."

Minnesota Christmas Tournament
Byron's Max Petersen (right) wrestles Lakeville North's Zach Hanson during the 145-pound title match at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament Saturday at RCTC.

Petersen added another takedown in the third period before riding it out for the title.

"Shows you that hard work pays off," Petersen said. "I can't take it for granted. It just shows me there are plenty of good matches out there, but you're doing the right things."


Before this weekend's Minnesota Christmas Tournament, Lake City senior Max Balow had hoped to pick up a few statement wins.


And even though he didn't take home the title, the Augustana commit did just that as he placed second at 285 on Saturday.

"I got a couple of quality wins," Balow said. "Obviously, it wasn't the finish I was looking for, but the guy is a really good wrestler."

RELATED: Max Balow looking to make a statement at Minnesota Christmas Tournament

Balow faced off against nationally-ranked Navarro Schunke of Branden Valley (S.D.). The sophomore won a South Dakota state title and last season was ranked as high as the 16th best 285-pounder in the country by

Minnesota Christmas Tournament
Lake City's Max Balow wrestles Brendan Valley's (S.D.) Navarro Schunke in the 285-pound championship match at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament on Saturday at RCTC.

Standing at 6-foot-5 with athleticism to back it up, Schunke looks like he should be playing left tackle for coach P.J. Fleck and the University of Minnesota instead.

Schunke's first three matches all resulted in pins in less than 32 seconds. Balow hung with him until the very end as Schunke collected the pin with under 10 seconds left.

"I thought I would be able to get around the size with some technique and athleticism, but it just wasn't enough," Balow said. "He's an athletic guy himself."

Still, for Balow, there was plenty to take away from this weekend.


"It's a quality finish and I'm definitely not disappointed," Balow said. "It gives me the confidence moving forward that I'm at this level, and I'm ready to compete and get things done. It also gives you a little bit of motivation moving forward to work harder."

RELATED: Link to all results

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
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