Wolves qualify 11 to State Class B Wrestling Tournament
By Frank Fish
After finishing the Region 4 dual season as the Region 4 Champion and the No. 1 seed from the region into the State Dual Tournament, the wrestling Wolves, under the guidance of second-year coach, Nathan Brenna, came away with the runner-up trophy in the Individual Region 4 Championships in Hettinger last Saturday.
The tournament was quite well balanced with Killdeer leading the way, qualifying all 14 of their wrestlers for this week’s State Tournament in Fargo. Killdeer, who had five champions and four second-place finishers, amassed 254 points to win the Region Title. Watford City had three champions and three second-place finishers as the Wolves scored 218 points, and will be advancing 11 of their 14 wrestlers to the State Meet. Hettinger rounded out the top three with 166½ points.
The Wolves have won the individual tournament the last two seasons, and have had 24 individual Region championships since 1972.
Coleton Jore started off the tournament for the Wolves with a close 8-7 loss to Cullen Seeger, New Salem. Jore needed near fall points at the end of the match to take the lead, but time expired leaving him on the short side of the scoring. In the wrestle-backs, he was decisioned 13-8 by Chauncy Hughes, Hettinger. He then pinned Talon Nielson, Beach, in 1:18 to finish in fifth place.
Wrestling for the Wolves at 112 pounds was freshman Jake Scott. Scott was the No. 3 seeded wrestler in the weight class and finished in that spot. He lost his semifinal match by tech fall in 5:29 to Coleton Neumiller, New Salem. He came back in the wrestle-backs to pin Collin Blade, Hettinger, in 3:42, and then pinned Kyle McGee, Bowman, in 2:12 for third place.
Isaac Laris, 119 pounds, was seeded fourth in possibly the toughest weight class in the tournament with the top four wrestlers having the potential of being in the top eight spots at the State Tournament. Laris won his quarterfinal match by fall over Alex Krebs, Beulah, in 4:47, and then was pinned by the No. 2 119-pounder and last year’s State Champion, Cody Nuemiller, New Salem, in 1:57. In one of the best matches of the tournament, Laris pinned last year’s third placer in State, Logan Schaper, Killdeer, in 3:55 to finish third in the weight class.
Joe Nelson, who was the No. 5 seed, represented the Wolves at 125 pounds. He was decisioned by Logan Eisenbeis, Beulah, in the quarterfinals and pinned by Trevor Abrahamson, Hettinger, in the wrestle-backs. Nelson did win the fifth place match by pinning Troy Steele, Beach, in 4:14. While not qualifying for State, he did score a valuable seven team points in the process.
Freshman Trevor Kalberer, who was seeded second at 130 pounds, won his semifinal match by pinning Dole Kupper, Killdeer, in 1:15 and was decisioned 19-6 by Hettinger’s Christian Hughes in the Championship match.
As the luck of the draw would have it, Brady Lund was seeded first in a group of five wrestlers at 135 pounds, and received a first-round bye. The bye is important because a wrestler does not have the opportunity to acquire pin points, so it is a real disadvantage when the number-one wrestler receives the bye. Lund went on to dominate the class with two first-period pins as he pinned Ryan Engle, Hettinger, in 1:26 in the semifinals, and then pinned the No. 2 seed, Garett Tabor, Killdeer, in 1:16 of the first period in the finals to claim the Championship. This was the fourth time that Lund has won the Region Tournament.
Jake Thomas went out in an attempt to garner another State birth for the team at 140 pounds. Thomas was seeded second behind the number-one 140-pounder in the state, Sean Elkins, Hettinger. Thomas had a walk over injury default win in the semifinals as Monte Nilsen, New Salem, did not wrestle due to a previous injury. Thomas then wrestled Elkins in the finals and was defeated 13-2. Thomas placed second in the region as a sophomore and senior, and first as a junior.
Austin Garmann was seeded fourth at 145 pounds, and had a must-win match against Isaac Ripplinger, Beulah, in the quarterfinals. Garmann made short work of Ripplinger, pinning him in just 50 seconds. Garmann then nearly met the same fate as he was pinned in 1:12 of the semifinal match by Taylor Heins, New Salem. He came back from that loss pinning Colby Steeke, Hettinger, in 53 seconds to claim third place and 16 team points.
Karson Knudtson, wrestling at 152 pounds, won his semifinal match pinning David Murphy, Standing Rock, in 3:12, and then decisioned Lane Overson 4-2 in the finals.
At 160 pounds, senior Nolan Kalberer faced an uphill battle as all four entrants in that weight class could beat any other on any particular day. Kalberer was decisioned 10-5 by Anthony Dukart, Killdeer, in the semis, but came storming back with a pin over Gauge Harrison, Standing Rock, to place third.
At 171 pounds, Kalin Mogen won two matches to take home his first- ever Region 4 Championship. He pinned Darius Fast Horse, Standing Rock, in 1:11 in the semifinals, and then pinned Isaiah Krebs, Beulah, in 3:46 in the finals. It was the sixth time Mogen and Krebs had wrestled this season, with Mogen winning five times. Last year, Mogen was a Region runner-up and placed fourth as a sophomore.
Branden Meuth, a senior at 189 pounds, pinned Kevin Sandgren, Hettinger, in 1:20 in the semis, and then defaulted because of a previous injury to Grady Houghton, Killdeer, in the finals.
Logan Fettig, only an eighth-grader at 215 pounds, came through with a fifth place finish after losing to the number three and number four wrestlers in the bracket. Fetting did not qualify for the individual tournament, but will be called upon to wrestle at 215 and 285 pounds in the three dual meets at the State Tournament
After taking a year off, Austin Haugen started wrestling for the Wolves again just over two weeks ago. Haugen, who weighs only 210 pounds, competed at the 285 weight class, and in spite of losing two matches, qualified for the State Individual Tournament, and will also be called on in the three duals at the State Tournament.
State Tournament begins Thursday
The State Wrestling Tournament begins on Thursday, Feb. 17 with Class A team duals and individual Class B matches starting at 10:30 a.m. The Parade of Athletes is at 6:30 p.m. and quarterfinal matches in both Class A and Class B are scheduled for 7 p.m.
Wrestling resumes at 10 a.m. on Friday with the semifinals set for 5 p.m. Consolation rounds begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday with Championship matches starting at 3 p.m.
Watford City wrestlers first round matches are as follows:
112 pounds - Jake Scott (16-18) vs. No. 8 seed Jaron Lunday, (30-8), Grafton.
119 pounds - Isaac Laris, (19-13) vs. No. 5 seed Jesse Schurman, (30-5), North Border.
130 pounds - Trevor Kalberer (19-11) vs. No. 5 seed Wyatt Aberle (24-13), Lisbon.
135 pounds - No. 1 seed Brady Lund (27-0) vs. Trae Kautzman (12-17), Kindred.
140 pounds - No. 4 seed Jake Thomas (26-6) vs. Nathan Schmaltz (11-3), Velva.
145 pounds - Austin Garmann (7-10) vs. No. 6 seed Brandon Gussiaas (30-6), Carrington.
152 pounds - No. 2 seed Karson Knudtson (28-5) vs. Zach Todd (12-9), MPC.
160 pounds - No. 7 seed Nolan Kalberer (19-15) vs. McCrae Danks (15-11), New Town.
171 pounds - No. 4 seed Kalin Mogen (22-16) vs. Aaron Ponzer (16-10), Harvey.
189 pounds - Branden Meuth (14-9) vs. No. 7 seed Austin Wolf (22-9), Carrington.
285 pounds - Austin Haugen (0-2) vs. No. 4 seed Thomas Doeden (32-8), Hillsboro.
In the first round of the dual competition, Watford City will take on Des Lacs-Burlington. Watford City and DLB have very similar rosters with some very talented upperclassmen and some inexperienced wrestlers. The matchups will be the key to winning the dual.
The winner of this dual will most likely wrestle South Border in the semifinals on Friday. South Border has qualified all 14 of their wrestlers for the individual portion of the tournament and have 10 seeded wrestlers in the individual state tournament. The loser of the dual drops into the consolation bracket with matches to be held on Friday.