Three wrestlers advance to semifinals in Hettinger Classic
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City Wolves varsity wrestling team competed in the two-day Hettinger Classic Wrestling Tournament this past weekend.
The tournament featured two pools of up to six wrestlers per pool wrestling round robin-style. After the pool play, the wrestlers were bracketed based on performance with the top two from each pool being placed in the semifinals, while the third and fourth place wrestlers from each pool went into the consolation semifinal round.
“This style of tournament guarantees a lot of mat time for all participants in comparison to the more common double elimination style tournaments,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach.
The Wolves had seven varsity wrestlers compete in the tournament as well as four junior high wrestlers.
Three wrestlers, Jade Hepper, Logan Gumke, and Jake Belland, took second place in their respective pools and advanced to the semifinal rounds.
Belland was pinned by Brody Peterson, the top ranked heavyweight in South Dakota in his semifinal match, while Gumke dropped a 13-5 major decision to Linton’s Chase Jacob, who is a top five ranked wrestler at 126 pounds in North Dakota Class B ranks. Hepper wrestled Keegan Kary from Baker, Mont., who had previously beaten Hepper 15-2 at the Bowman Rotary Tournament in mid-December.
“It looked like the rematch might be more of the same as Kary jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the first period and added a quick reversal in the second to lead 6-1,” stated Greenwood. “That was when Hepper hit a slick five-point move, scoring a reversal and three backpoints, to tie things up going into the final period.”
Kary, again, took control early in the third period with a takedown until Hepper hit the same move again from the bottom position scoring a reversal to tie it and adding the three near-fall points to come out with an 11-8 win.
Hepper advanced to the finals where he squared off with Kole Schell, from Moorcroft, Wyo., who is the defending Wyoming 2A State Champion.
Hepper jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but Schell fought back to tie it at the end of the second period. The third period belonged to Schell as he rattled off eight unanswered points to win 14-6 at 120 pounds.
Gumke’s placing round match found him up against another Moorcroft, Wyo., opponent in Rowdy Cranston. Gumke controlled the match as he scored the only points of the first period with a takedown. He added a second takedown and then pinned Cranston, the sixth ranked wrestler in 2A Wyoming, in the second period to secure third place.
Belland’s third place match did not go quite as well for him as he took the mat against Dustin Irjens from Baker, Mont. Irjens had pinned Belland earlier in the year at the Bowman Rotary Tournament and duplicated those results on Saturday as he claimed third place in the tournament, leaving Belland as the fourth place finisher.
Three other wrestlers placed for the Wolves in the tournament. Clay Jorgenson placed fifth at 138 pounds, while Coleton Jore and Dakota Garmann each placed sixth at 145 and 113.
Jorgenson posted a 4-2 record in the event, while Jore got his hand raised three times on the weekend. Kyle Cook also competed for the Wolves, and while he finished 1-4, all four of his losses came to State qualifiers, including a third place and fifth place finisher from last season.
In the Junior Varsity portion of the event, Liam Shannon was 4-0 with three pins for the Wolves and won his bracket. Jake Leppell picked up a pin to go 1-1 and take second place. Carlton Turnquist placed third and Braedon Gumke took fourth.
The Wolves’ next competition will be on Saturday as the team competes in the Beulah Miner Invite.
Watford City’s next home action will be on Friday, Jan. 17 in a dual against Stanley. The Wolves will then host the Levi Wisness Classic on Saturday, Jan. 18.