Wolves return to the mat
By Neal A. Shipman
After a long Christmas holiday break, the Watford City Wolves varsity wrestling team returned to the mat this past weekend at the Hettinger Classic. Eleven varsity wrestlers ,as well as one junior high competitor, took part in the tournament which featured teams from North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
According to Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach, the tournament was run in a format that pooled four to six kids in round robin pools. The results of the pool wrestling determined seeding for the bracketed portion of the tournament that determined final placings for the individuals. This format ensured that everyone got between four and seven matches guaranteed.
“The first three rounds of pool competition took place on Friday and because of the format of the tournament, this meant some very important matches would be wrestled in the early rounds of the tournament,” stated Greenwood. “That was the case at 132 pounds for Clay Jorgenson as he battled and split with two regional opponents in the first two matches of the tournament.”
After dropping a 6-1 decision to Killdeer’s Tanner Rohde, Jorgenson bounced back to defeat Bowman County’s Tel Lardy 7-1. He capped off the first day with a first period pin against a Lemmon, S.D. opponent to put himself into good position to place at the tournament.
Austin Garmann also picked up two early round wins against regional foes. He pinned Hettinger’s Kilo Bowen very quickly in the first round before taking to the mat for a rematch with Bowman County’s Troy Steele. Steele defeated Garmann earlier this season at the Bowman Tournament, but Garmann was able to wrestle a very smart match and come out with a 2-1 victory to even the tally between the two. After the two victories, Garmann dropped his third match to Linton’s Brock Nagel who is currently the top ranked 145-pound wrestler in North Dakota.
Kyle Cook and Jade Hepper each tallied first round wins, giving themselves a chance to have a strong second day effort and get into placing rounds.
Joe Nelson dropped his first round match to a Moorcroft, Wyo., opponent before bouncing back and securing perhaps one of the biggest wins of the tournament for the Wolves. Nelson squared off with Linton’s Clay Jacob, a two-time state place winner who has been ranked as high as third in the state this season. Jacob started the scoring building a 5-1 lead before Nelson was able to hit a lateral drop in the second period to score five points and enter the third period with a 6-5 lead. Jacob was looking to regain the lead in the third and final period when he got a little over-aggressive, allowing Nelson to throw him in another five-point lateral drop. With Jacob on his back and unable to get out of bounds, Nelson secured the 11-5 decision by riding him out for the final minute of the match. The win secured Nelson a spot in the semifinals of the tournament.
Coleton Jore and Logan Gumke both went unbeaten in the first day of the Hettinger Classic. They both won two matches convincingly. Jore pinned both of his opponents while Gumke pinned one and won with an 18-2 technical fall against the other.
In the second day of the tournament, the Wolves experienced many ups and downs.
At 106 pounds, Jade Hepper bested Bowman County’s Talon Neilson 7-5. Neilson had been a top 5-ranked wrestler in the state at 113 before dropping down to 106 pounds for this tournament. After the big win, Hepper found himself in the consolation semifinals against another regional opponent in Alec Andress from Hettinger. Hepper defeated Andress earlier this year in the Bowman Tournament’s championship match. While Hepper stayed aggressive, Andress countered almost everything Hepper threw at him and won 12-7.
Logan Gumke continued his winning ways picking up a 14-0 major decision over Killdeer’s Cole Dukart, and then won a hotly contested 7-6 decision over Hettinger’s Lucas Ormiston. The two wins meant that Gumke won his pool and would wrestle in the semifinals. Gumke’s winning ways came to an end as he suffered an 8-1 setback to Moorcroft’s Cole Schell. In the third place match, Gumke and Ormiston found themselves in a rematch from earlier in the day. Ormiston was able to throw a tight headlock and pin Gumke in the first period.
At 126 pounds, Coleton Jore also reached the semifinals, but couldn’t break through to the championship round. He then wrestled against Killdeer’s Derek Tabor for third place honors. Tabor proved to be very tough on his feet and scored in bunches on his way to a win over Jore.
Austin Garmann and Joe Nelson were the other two semifinalists for the Wolves at 145 pounds and 160 pounds, respectively. Garmann lost to a Moorcroft opponent putting him in the third place match against Hettinger’s Christian Hughes. The third place match was one of the more entertaining matches of the tournament as it was very fast-paced, physical, and full of scrambles. It easily could have gone either way, however on this day it went in favor of Hughes by a score of 5-2.
Nelson also dropped his semifinal match against Montana State Champion, Mason Melby from Baker. This set up a third place match against Dickinson’s Raphael Lopez. Lopez beat Nelson earlier in the season 2-1, but this time Nelson figured out how to rack up some points against Lopez as he scored a first period takedown and a couple sets of near fall points as he cruised to third place.
Rounding out the other place winners for the Wolves was Clay Jorgenson who wrestled a very dominating consolation semifinal match against Brendan Harrison from Standing Rock before dropping a 2-1 triple overtime match giving him a sixth place finish. At 170 pounds, Dakota Neether looked dominant as well in his consolation semifinals match as he secured a first period takedown and pin. Like Jorgenson, Neether wrestled a very close match in the placing rounds, but one mistake was the difference maker and he, too, came away with sixth place. Kye Bolken and Kyle Cook each finished one win shy of placing for the Wolves. Marty Kueffler and Dakota Garmann also participated for the Wolves in the varsity division, while seventh grader Hunter Thompson showed steady improvements competing in the Junior High division.
The Wolves next action will be this weekend when they wrestle in a quadrangular on Friday night vs. Beulah/Hazen, Bowman County, and Standing Rock. The Wolves will close out the weekend competing in the Beulah Tournament on Saturday.