Hepper claims third place at State Wrestling
By Neal A. Shipman
The Wolves wrestling team concluded its season this past weekend in Bismarck at the Class B State Tournament with Jade Hepper claiming a third place finish at 120 pounds.
Hepper opened his tournament action against Velva’s Jonathan Thomas. Thomas started out very strong, picking up an early takedown. But it would be all Hepper from there on out as he poured on the offense to cruise to a 19-4 technical fall win.
“Hepper was very nervous and did not wrestle his best match,” stated Greenwood. “So for him to come away with a 19-4 win and not wrestle his very best was impressive.”
Hepper’s next action was against Pembina County North’s Braydin Horgan, in the semifinal round. Horgan, who was the top-ranked wrestler in the tournament with a 32-2 record, took control in the second period and notched a pin at 3:54.
Hepper’s loss put him in the Consolation championship match against Kindred’s Michael Zink. This was the first meeting of the season between the two and it was a high scoring affair. Hepper was able to score a five-point move from bottom position, and later countered a takedown attempt of Zink’s for another four points as he earned a takedown of his own along with two backpoints. The two big scoring moves helped propel Hepper to an 11-9 decision and advance to the third place match of the state tournament.
In the third place match, Hepper had a rematch with Carrington’s Bryce Carr. Carr, the third-ranked wrestler in the tournament had pinned Hepper two days earlier in the dual portion of the tournament. However, things would be different in the rematch as Hepper again was able to score points in bunches from the bottom position with his go-to move, the “Flip Granby,” which is a combination of a Granby roll and a Peterson roll. The move was worth four points against Carr as Hepper opened up a 4-0 lead. Hepper went on to win the match 8-5 and claim third place in the state tournament.
Hepper, who also took eighth place last year, is now a two-time state place winner as a sophomore.
While Hepper was the only Watford City wrestler out of the nine that had qualified for State, Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach was pleased with the way his team wrestled.
“We won all the matches that we were supposed to win, and a couple that we were not supposed to,” stated Greenwood, after the first day of wrestling. “That’s what we have to do to be a good team.”
The tournament opened with a round of individual action with matches starting at 113 pounds. Sophomore Dakota Garmann battled hard against the fourth-ranked wrestler in the state, Wyatt Ledoux from Bishop Ryan. Garmann was able to keep the score close until the third period when Ledoux extended his lead and was able to come away with an 8-3 decision.
Logan Gumke kept the momentum going at 126 pounds as he upset the seventh-ranked wrestler in the tournament. Gumke struck first as he countered Lane Berg’s single leg attempt. Berg, from Central Cass, was able to get a reversal to tie it up 2-2 at the end of the first period. Gumke outscored Berg 2-1 in the remaining two periods to hang on to a tightly contested 4-3 win.
After witnessing two straight Wolves wins, junior Clay Jorgenson decided to get in on the action. Jorgenson, the eighth-ranked wrestler at 138 pounds opened against Grenora’s Jorge Rico. In spite of being unranked, Rico proved to be a worthy opponent and Jorgenson found himself trailing 4-3 with time winding down. But Jorgenson was able to secure a reversal with just three seconds left on the clock to pull ahead 5-4 and avoid being upset.
Kyle Cook, Coleton Jore, Hunter Olson, Jake Belland, and Liam Shannon finished out the first round for the Wolves. Cook, Olson, Belland, and Shannon were all pinned as they all wrestled top five-ranked opponents, while Jore was defeated by Technical Fall by Brayden Kuntz from South Border, who went on to claim State Runner-up honors.
The first day of the tournament concluded with the quarterfinal round of the individual tournament with Watford’s three winners, Hepper, Gumke, and Jorgenson, competing for a spot in the semifinal round. A win would guarantee them a top six place in the tournament.
Hepper was up first for the Wolves as he squared off against Bishop Ryan’s Aaron Sandy. Hepper and Sandy had wrestled three times throughout the season. Hepper won a 9-8 decision in their first matchup in the Velva Tournament Finals. Sandy won handily in the rematch and then pinned Hepper in the first period in their third meeting. The two wrestled a scoreless first period. In the second period, Hepper started on bottom position and was able to secure a reversal and two back points to go up 4-0. Sandy closed the gap, but Hepper scored a third period takedown to go up 7-5 in the third period, and the score remained that way until the buzzer sounded.
Gumke faced off against No. 2-ranked Joe Bakke, a rematch from the dual earlier in the afternoon. Bakke built an early lead and then was able to end the match in the second period with a pin.
Clay Jorgenson also fell victim to pin in the quarterfinals against Carrington’s Patrick Freeman, the top- ranked wrestler in the tournament.
Day Two started out with two Consolation rounds with the six Watford City wrestlers who had been defeated in the first round competing in loser-out action.
Kyle Cook, Coleton Jore and Dakota Garmann came away with wins, while Hunter Olson, Jake Belland and Shannon Liam would lose out.
At 145 pounds, Cook was completely in control as he scored two beautiful double-leg takedowns as he ended up pinning Central Cass’ Austin Hinsz.
Coleton Jore at 160 pounds wrestled a very smart match and controlled the action against Central Cass’ Cade Merrigan, and walked off the mat with a 12-0 major decision.
Dakota Garmann closed out the round for Watford City with a dominant, 8-1, win over Kenmare’s Brandon Burtsch at 113 pounds.
The next round of Consolation matches was again a loser-out situation. However this time the stakes were even higher as the winner was guaranteed a place in the state tournament.
With five Watford City wrestlers still alive in the tournament, Clay Jorgenson kicked things off against Central Cass’ Nathan Volk.
Jorgenson trailed by one point entering the final period and chose bottom position to attempt to escape and tie the matchup. Volk, a fifth place finisher at State the year before, had other plans as he was able to turn Jorgenson to his back and get the pin.
Kyle Cook had a tough matchup in Keaton Merck from Bishop Ryan. Merck, a senior, came in as the No. 6-ranked wrestler at 145 pounds and claimed a 22-4 technical fall over Cook.
Coleton Jore was up next for the Wolves as he faced off with eighth- seeded Mason Brudevold from Velva. Brudevold got a single leg on Jore early in the match and was able to lock up a cradle before he had even scored the takedown points. The maneuver was good enough to put Jore on his back and earn Brudevold a quick pin in the first period.
Dakota Garmann was up next for the Wolves at 113 pounds against Linton’s Wyatt Nagel. While Garmann wrestled a very smart, calculated match, Nagel was able to score a takedown and a two-point nearfall to advance with a 4-0 win.
“Dakota had an awesome tournament,” stated Greenwood. “He wrestled very well in every match. He was right in it with some very good competitors. I will be shocked if he’s not competing for a state place next season. If he puts in some time in the weightroom over the off-season, there’s no reason he won’t be standing on the podium next year.”
Logan Gumke, at 126 pounds, took on Raph Schill from Pembina County North. Gumke struggled to get his offense going and Schill won a 7-2 decision to knock Gumke out of the tournament.
Overall, Watford City finished in 18th place out of 32 teams in Class B and Greenwood was pleased with the performance of his team.
“We had six kids win matches at the State Tournament. That’s a great feeling to have,” stated Greenwood. “I was disappointed that we didn’t have a couple more break through to the placing rounds, but they battled hard. We don’t have a senior in our lineup and return everyone next year. Its going to be a fun off-season working toward where we want to finish next season. We’ll set high goals, and if these kids continue to work hard, there’s no reason we can’t be a top 10 team in the state next season.”
Team Dual Tournament
During the state tournament, the Wolves wrestled Carrington and Bishop Ryan in the State Dual Tournament.
In the match against Carrington, the Cardinals rattled off 13 wins in 14 weights against the Wolves. The lone Wolf to put points on the board was Jake Belland who received a forfeit at heavyweight.
In their second dual, the Wolves took on Bishop Ryan with the Lions coming away with the win.
“We wrestled very well” stated Greenwood. “But they’re a good team and even in some of the matches that we did wrestle well, we still got beat.”
Coleton Jore was one of the bright spots in the Wolves’ lineup as he defeated Corbin Manley in a very exciting match at 152 pounds.
State Dual Tournament
Carrington 76, Watford City 6
106: Braedon Gumke pinned by Tyler Hoggarth, 0:49.
113: Dakota Garmann pinned by Mathew Neumiller, 0:50.
120: Jade Hepper decisioned by Bryce Carr, 12-0.
126: Logan Gumke pinned by Joe Bakke, 3:45.
132: Carrington won by forfeit.
138: Clay Jorgenson pinned by Patrick Freeman, 4:16.
145: Carlton Turnquist pinned by Keenan Kvamme, 0:55.
152: Kyle Cook pinned by Billy Holtan, 3:00.
160: Coleton Jore pinned by Brett Lyman, 5:00.
170: Carrington won by forfeit.
182: Carrington won by forfeit.
195: Hunter Olson pinned by Tyrell Larsen, 1:54.
220: Logan Fettig pinned by Seth Zink, 2:12.
285: Jake Belland won by forfeit.
Bishop Ryan 63, Watford City 7
106: Braedon Gumke decisioned by Max Lipp, 17-14.
113: Dakota Garmann pinned by Wyatt Ledoux, 0:37.
120: Jade Hepper decisioned by Aaron Sandy, 8-1.
126: Logan Gumke lost to Konner Beeter, injury.
132: Minot Ryan won by forfeit.
138: Clay Jorgenson decisioned Colton Snyder, 15-1.
145: Kyle Cook pinned by Keaton Merck, 1:04.
152: Coleton Jore decisioned Corbin Manley, 8-6.
160: Minot Ryan won by forfeit.
170: Minot Ryan won by forfeit.
182: Minot Ryan won by forfeit.
195: Hunter Olson pinned by Joseph Knipp, 0:29.
220: Logan Fettig decisioned by Tyler Allers, 6-0.
285: Jake Belland pinned by Mason Kramer, 0:49.