'I'm small-town, not a city kid:' K-M's Bennett Berge goes with family ties, commits to South Dakota State

Bennett Berge, the youngest of three brothers who have had standout careers at Kasson-Mantorville, has made a verbal commitment to wrestle at South Dakota State University. He'll join older brother Brady, an assistant coach for the Jackrabbits, there in the fall of 2022.

Kasson-Mantorville’s Bennett Berge wrestles Becker’s Caden Dewall in a 182-pound championship match of the Class AA individual state wrestling championships on Friday, March 26, 2021, at St. Michael-Albertville High School in St. Michael. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

The youngest brother from a family synonymous with Kasson-Mantorville wrestling has made his decision.

It was, at least in part, made with family in mind.

KoMets senior Bennett Berge announced today that he will do his college wrestling at Division I South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D.


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By no coincidence, that’s the same school that older brother Brady Berge recently accepted a position at, as an assistant wrestling coach. Brady had wrestled at Penn State University until injuries forced him to retire at the end of this past season.

“I was really interested in South Dakota State anyway,” said Bennett, a 182-pound senior who’s won four straight state championships. “But after I talked to Brady, once he took the job, I became even more interested. It’ll be great having a family member on the coaching staff. Brady is pumped that I’m coming.”

Prior to choosing South Dakota State, Berge also considered top wrestling programs including the University of Minnesota, Penn State, University of Wisconsin and University of Wyoming.

In the end, Minnesota was his runner-up.

Berge said that the Gophers have put together a stellar recruiting class that he believes could turn them into a top-five program in the country. Berge strongly considered being a part of that. In the end, though, his preference for small-town living, as well as Brady’s presence, won out.

“Minnesota was right behind South Dakota State,” said Bennett Berge, who hopes this winter to become the first K-M wrestler to win five state titles. “But I’m small-town, not a city kid. They have lots of (wrestlers) on the South Dakota State team who are smaller-town kids. I like to hunt, fish and go boating. I feel like I’ll enjoy wrestling most if I’m able to enjoy the things around me. Then the wrestling will take care of itself.”

Berge has spent the past four-plus years taking care that he is not only the top 182-pounder in the state, but among the country’s best. Last November, Berge was ranked third in the nation at 182 pounds.


Berge hasn’t lost to a Minnesota wrestler since his sophomore year, when Simley star Gavin Nelson beat him in the Section 1AA tournament. In the last two years, he’s lost just twice overall, both in national events.

The K-M senior joins two other Minnesota stars in having recently committed to South Dakota State. They are Wayzata’s Cael Swensen and Forest Lake’s Derrick Cardinal, both of whom will be freshmen at SDSU this fall. Cardinal won the Minnesota Mr. Wrestler Award for 2020-21. He is also a four-time state champion. Berge notes that five of SDSU’s freshmen wrestlers were ranked nationally last year, including Swensen and Cardinal.

Bennett Berge will become the third of three Berge boys to wrestle collegiately. Oldest brother Broc Berge wrestled at Iowa, then transferred to Minnesota. Brady wrestled at Penn State and now Bennett is set for SDSU.

South Dakota State, which wrestles in Division I, finished 5-6 this past season. That included a narrow 19-12 loss to powerful Iowa State.

Berge is excited for this coming high school season, which he believes could end with him not only winning his fifth state individual championship, but K-M claiming the state team crown. After that, he’ll start getting ready for the next chapter of his life.

The wrestling part, he’s sure, will agree with him.

“My brothers and I have talked about that a lot,” Bennett said. “Being a college wrestler comes down to the love for the sport. That’s something you can’t teach. I love the sport and I love going to practice and getting better.”

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or
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