Wrestlers advance 10 to State Tournament
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City’s team placed five wrestlers in the Region IV Tournament finals as the Wolves will be sending 10 individuals to the State Class B Wrestling Tournament, which will be held Feb. 18-20 at the Fargo Dome.
The Wolves finished the Region Tournament in third place with 162 points, behind first place finisher, Hettinger-Scranton, 218.5 points; and second place finisher, Beulah-Hazen with 181.5 points.
The Wolves were paced by five tournament finalists, Liam Shannon, Dakota Garmann, Jade Hepper, Kyle Cook, and Jake Belland.
Dakota Garmann was Watford City’s lone Region 4 Champion crowned as he won the 126-pound weight class with a 3:28 pin over Hettinger’s Braden Kline, while Shannon, Hepper, Cook and Belland all finished in second place for the Wolves.
Liam Shannon advanced to the finals at 106 pounds when he received an injury default over New Salem’s Tayt Wolding, the state’s No. 2-ranked wrestler. In the title match, Shannon was decisioned, 4-2, by Hettinger’s Mason Defoe.
At 113 pounds, Braedon Gumke had a bitter-sweet day as he did not win any matches. But with only four wrestlers competing in the weight class, Gumke will be advancing to the state tournament.
“Don’t let the lack of numbers fool you,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “The four kids we have in the region at this weight class are all ranked in the top seven in the entire state, so there’s quality over quantity!”
CJ Thacker went 2-2 on the day to finish in fourth place overall at 120 pounds when he was pinned in 3:39 by New Salem’s Josh Irwin.
Antonio Garcia, who competed at 132 pounds, had one of the deeper weight classes in the tournament as he had a defending state champion and another highly-ranked wrestler to contend with. Garcia, a sophomore, ended in sixth place.
At 138 pounds, Hunter Schwartzenberger made the best of his opportunity as he picked up a first round pin over Standing Rock’s Dominick Harrison, which automatically qualified him for the state tournament in his five-man bracket. Schwartzenberger lost in the semifinals and was then pinned in 3:53 by Harrison in a rematch in the third place match.
Jade Hepper, who wrestled at 145 pounds, received a bye to the semifinals, and then avenged a loss from a week ago by defeating Beulah/Hazen’s Josh Snyder to advance to the finals. In the championship bout, Hepper let a lead slip through his grasp as he gave up a takedown as time expired to lose 6-5 to Hettinger’s Alec Andress.
After coming off an injury that kept Kyle Cook from competing for two weeks, Cook returned to the mat with a vengeance in the 152-pound weight class. Cook opened the tournament with a win over Bowman County’s Jeffers in the semifinals to advance to the championship match against Hettinger’s Logan Lachowitzer. While the two wrestlers have competed against each other multiple times this season with both having wins over the other, in the end Lachowitzer came away with a 19-5 major decision over Cook.
Carlton Turnquist, a 170-pound freshman, had a tough day as he competed in a bracket primarily filled with juniors and seniors. Turnquist battled hard all day, but was unable to come away victorious in any of his bouts and finished in sixth place.
At 182 pounds, Connor Dennis went 2-2 overall and finished in fourth place. Dennis got pins in both of his wins, and according to Greenwood, in spite of finishing fourth, he will still likely get a good seed for the state tournament due to all four of the top finishers in the region being ranked in the top seven in the state polls.
Jake Belland, who took second place for the Wolves at 220 pounds, received an opening round bye, and then picked up his fourth win of the season over Denzel Sanders to advance to the finals. In the finals, Belland squared off against Hettinger’s Coleby Steeke in a battle between the top two wrestlers in the state, with Steeke coming away with a 7-2 win.
Jackson Faller, who wrestled at 285 pounds, ended the tournament with a 3-1 record with all of his wins coming by way of pin. His lone setback came at the hands of Standing Rock’s Steven Harrison. Faller pinned opponents from Hettinger, Killdeer, and New Salem to finish the tournament in third place.
State Tournament Opening Round Matches
106: Coy Awender, Oakes, #1, vs. Liam Shannon
113: Braedon Gumke, #7,vs. Rylee Thompson, MPCG
120: Coy Spooner, DLB, #7, vs. CJ Thacker
126: Tyler Hoggarth, Carrington, #7, vs. Dakota Garmann
138: Braydin Horgan, Pembina County North vs. Hunter Schwartzenberger
145: Jade Hepper, #6, vs. Jeremiah Paine, Grenora
152: Mark Hastings, Hillsboro, #6, vs. Kyle Cook
182: Connor Dennis, #7, vs. Landon Smith, LaMoure
220: Jake Belland, #2, vs. Andrew Vetter, Linton
285: Bradee Schroeder, Carrington, #2. vs. Jackson Faller