Wrestlers have good showing at Dickinson Classic
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City wrestlers competed in their fourth tournament of the season on Dec. 20 and 21 at the Dickinson Classic, which was a full varsity and junior varsity tournament. In all, 10 of the Wolves wrestlers competed, with six in the varsity portion of the tournament and four in the junior varsity competition.
The Wolves, who are 5-2 in dual meets and 3-0 in Region IV competition, will next be in action on Jan. 3 and 4, when Watford City competes in the Hettinger Classic Tournament. The tournament features varsity and junior high divisions.
Watford City ended up placing fifth as a team in the 16-team field at the Dickinson Classic. Host-school Dickinson was the tournament champion, while Bismarck St. Mary’s, Bismarck High, and Hardin County ended second, third, and fourth, respectively.
The six varsity wrestlers had a perfect first day of competition, going unbeaten and advancing to Saturday morning’s semifinal round. The Wolves posted a 7-0 record in the first day, and six of the wins came with bonus points for the team.
Jade Hepper pinned Fargo South’s Abdi Kahman in the round of 16 and then picked up a technical fall in the quarterfinals by posting a 16-0 victory over Belle Fourche’s Corey Hockenbury.
Logan Gumke also collected two wins on Friday with a pin over Brian Rodriguez from Dickinson, and then defeated Bismarck High’s Aiden Schuh 2-0.
Clay Jorgenson received a first round bye, and then had an offensive explosion as he cruised to a 15-0 technical fall over Minot’s Evan Behham.
At 145 pounds, Coleton Jore got a bye in the round of 16 before pinning Augustus Siaway from Fargo South in the quarterfinal round.
Dakota Neether was in a seven-person weight class and drew a bye into the semifinal round.
Rounding out the varsity division was Keegan Thompson at 170 pounds who would remain unbeaten as he picked up a first period pin over Williston’s Royce Horswill.
In spite of having just six competitors on varsity, the Wolves positioned themselves in second place in the 16-team field after the quarterfinal round and remained in the top five after the wrestleback round concluded day-one action.
Competition heated up for the Wolves on day two of the Dickinson Classic, but Watford City was able to advance half of their semifinalists into the tournament’s championship round.
Jade Hepper battled Minot’s Tyler Strandberg for a full six minutes taking the match 11-7.
At 126 pounds, Mandan’s Brandon Zachmeier, ranked second in the Class A Coaches’ Polls, had too much offense for Logan Gumke. Zachmeier cruised to a 14-3 major decision. Gumke then bounced back strong in the consolation semifinal round posting a 6-3 decision over Region IV opponent, Cole Dukart from Killdeer. Gumke, however, would drop a 14-8 decision in the third place match to Stanley’s Jaden Iverson.
After Clay Jorgenson’s 15-0 quarterfinal victory, his offense was stifled by Rico Stormer of Circle, Mont. Stormer was able to shut out Jorgenson in a 12-0 major decision. Jorgenson then decisioned Killdeer’s David Arthur 1-0 in the consolation semifinal match which set up a rematch with Minot’s Evan Benham for third place. Jorgenson’s offense was back on display as he cruised to a 11-3 major decision to finish in third place.
Coleton Jore had a difficult second day as he ran into Bismarck St. Mary’s Dane Fisher in the semifinal round. Fisher, who is the top- ranked wrestler in Class A and has been in and out of the national rankings over the past year, pinned Jore in the first period. Jore then lost a 12-1 major decision to Minot’s Creighton Rudolph in the consolation semifinals. In the fifth and sixth place match, Hardin County’s Patrick Toyne decisioned Jore 8-0.
After receiving a bye into the semi-final round, Dakota Neether advanced to the finals after his opponent suffered a dislocated shoulder while warming up prior to the tournament.
Keegan Thompson advanced to the finals with a pin over Hardin County’s Casey Fredericks.
The three Wolves to reach the finals would all have their hands full with very tough opponents.
Jade Hepper kicked things off against host-school’s Jaret Lee. Lee was a fifth place finisher at the state tournament a year ago and currently is ranked No. 2 in Class A this season. Lee got a quick first period takedown, but Hepper initiated a scramble in which he wound up coming out on top with a reversal. Hepper, however, left his head hanging in a bad spot. Lee grabbed hold of his head and was able to roll him onto his back and pick up the pin.
Neether was up next as he would take on Mandan’s Sam Ravness. Neether was taken down in the first period, but hung on strong to end the period trailing just 2-0. In the second period, Ravness was able to turn Neether to his back and secure a pin.
After going 0-2, Thompson was the Wolves’ last chance at earning a tournament championship. Thompson would take on Justin Berquist from Bismarck High, and went right after Berquist in the first period, taking him down and locking up a cradle which led to a first period pin.
The win gave Thompson the 170-pound championship and kept Thompson’s unbeaten season intact. Thompson is currently 13-0 with nine pins on the season.
Clay Jorgenson, Jade Hepper and Logan Gumke led the team in total wins at this point in the season with Hepper and Jorgenson each sporting a 14-6 record, while Gumke sits at 14-7 on the season.
Junior Varsity Tournament
The junior varsity wrestlers who competed at the Dickinson Classic had a lot of success as well.
Dakota Garmann, who was 3-0 with two pins, won the 113-pound championship, while Kyle Cook also went unbeaten at 145 pounds and posted a 15-10 win in the finals to win a championship.
Hunter Olson earned one pin as he placed fourth at 195 pounds. Heavyweight Jake Belland pinned his first four opponents to reach the championship match before falling to Brandon Heil from Lemmon, S.D., to finish second.