Leppell to wrestle with Team North Dakota
By Neal A. Shipman
Five wrestlers from Watford City traveled to Mandan on Saturday, March 15 to compete in a tryout tournament to become part of Team North Dakota for the National Middle School Duals Tournament. The tournament was open to wrestlers in grades six through eight in the state of North Dakota from Class A and B schools. North Dakota will be taking two teams to Council Bluffs, Iowa on April 11-13. In order to qualify for Team North Dakota, wrestlers must win or take second place in the qualifying tournament.
Competing from Watford City was Jake Leppell, 80 pounds; Liam Shannon and Jack Heen, 90 pounds; Braedon Gumke, 95 pounds; and Carlton Turnquist, 140 pounds.
“While all of the kids wrestled very hard, only one of them qualified for the National Dual Team,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Watford City varsity wrestling coach. “Jake Leppell, a seventh grader, was a runner-up in his weight division.”
Liam Shannon, Braedon Gumke, and Carlton Turnquist each finished in fourth place in their respective weight classes.
“Braedon Gumke had a very good tournament going 2-2 on the day and earning two pins,” stated Greenwood. “Liam Shannon also went 2-2 in his weight class. Both of his losses came to the same opponent, once in the quarterfinals and then again after Liam fought his way back to the third place match.
Jack Heen won his first match of the tournament by pin before losing to the eventual tournament champion in his bracket. He was then eliminated when he had to wrestle Liam Shannon in the consolation bracket.
Jake Leppell will travel to Fargo on Thursday, April 10 for a team practice.
The teams will depart for Council Bluffs on Friday morning and will weigh in when they arrive and then have two full days of competition on Saturday and Sunday at the tournament.
Last year’s tournament featured 44 different teams from a total of 16 states.
The champions of the qualifier will make up North Dakota Gold, while Jake Leppell and the other runner-up finishers will make up North Dakota Green.
Last year’s Gold Team placed 13th overall in the event, while the Green Team placed 36th overall.