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Sarah Pulk makes history, advances to inaugural girls state wrestling tournament


Gator seventh grade wrestler Sarah Pulk works for position in the Girls Section 5-8 165-pound championship match versus Cambridge-Isanti junior Kami Senlycki at Sartell High School on February 19. Pulk fell by pin late in the third period, but finished second to earn her spot to the inaugural MSHSL State Girls Wrestling Tournament on March 5 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (photo by Heidi Pulk)

Gator seventh grader Sarah Pulk sports the second place medal she earned at the Section 5-8 165-pound weight class, securing a spot to the inaugural MSHSL State Girls Wrestling Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on March 5. (photo by Heidi Pulk)

Gator wrestler Sarah Pulk is making program history for several reasons and she is only in seventh grade.

Pulk traveled to Sartell High School for the 2022 Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Girls Section 5-8 Wrestling Tournament on February 19— a spot to state at the Xcel Energy Center on the line. Advancing to the finals at the 165-pound weight class, Pulk earned one of those spots to the inaugural MSHSL State Girls Wrestling Tournament by securing a second place finish.

Coaching Pulk in the inaugural year of section and state girls wrestling tournaments, Gator Head Wrestling Coach Isaac Novacek said many unknowns existed going into the weekend. Despite that, Coach Novacek watched the only girl in this year’s Gator Wrestling high school program hold her own.

“We haven’t seen much Minnesota competition, so there was a lot of unknowns (going into the section tournament),” Coach Novacek said. “But… as she always does, she looked very well, she worked very hard, and came out on top.”

The top seed in her bracket, Pulk began the day by taking on Minneapolis Edison sophomore Sakura Williams. Pulk earned a 55-second pin over Williams to advance to the championship match.

In the championship, Pulk faced Cambridge-Isanti junior Kami Senlycki. Pulk would trail 4-1 after the first period and 6-2 after the second period. Pulk gave up a reversal early in the third period to fall into an 8-2 deficit. She would later get taken to her back and pinned with 34 seconds left in the match.

The top two finishers at each weight advance to the state tournament. Since the wrestler Pulk defeated earlier in the tournament, Williams, finished third, Pulk would not have to wrestle a true second match and would advance to state.

From the beginning of the season to now a state berth, Coach Novacek has watched Pulk learn to flow and transition wrestle after making that jump from the elementary to the high school program this season. As she has improved throughout the season, one thing has remained a constant: her hard work ethic.

“I can’t really think of a more well-deserving individual to advance and set these historic marks for us or be the first (girl in our program to advance to state),” Coach Novacek said. “… She’s such a good role model because she works so hard and doesn’t complain, just does everything that’s asked, and just loves the sport.”

Pulk will now prepare for the girls state tournament, scheduled for Saturday, March 5 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

To see the complete story, read the February 23 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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