Wrestlers place six at Dickinson Classic
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City wrestling team faced off against its toughest competition yet this season as they competed in a full slate of events over the past week.
The Wolves’ next competition will be on Jan. 2 and 3, when they travel to Fargo to compete in the “Rumble on the Red” Tournament at the Fargodome. The event is the largest wrestling tournament in the state and features 65 teams from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and New Mexico.
Sidney 55, Watford City 12
The Wolves started their week with a road dual at Sidney. The Eagles are one of the top-ranked teams in the entire state of Montana and showed why on the mat. Coleton Jore and Connor Dennis were the only wrestlers on the short-handed Wolves’ roster to register wins in the dual for Watford City, with each pinning their respective opponents.
In the end, the Eagles topped the Wolves, 55 to 12, as Watford City gave up forfeits in six weight classes, resulting in 36 uncontested points for the Eagles.
Dickinson Classic Wrestling Tournament
On Friday, the Wolves were back in dual action as they traveled to Dickinson for the Dickinson Classic Wrestling Tournament.
The Wolves got a preview of what it may be like in a few years in the Class A ranks as they faced off against three Class A teams from the West Region in Dickinson High, Mandan, and Minot High.
The Wolves kicked off the event against the Dickinson Midgets, who are currently the fifth-ranked team in of Class A, by jumping out to an early 15-0 lead. After trading a few wins back and forth in the lower to middle weight classes, the Midgets rattled off five consecutive wins from 152 to 195 pounds to gain a 13-point lead with just two weight classes to go.
The Midgets ultimately won the dual, 43-30.
Individual winners for the Wolves were Liam Shannon, CJ Thacker, Dakota Garmann, Logan Gumke, Coleton Jore and Jake Belland.
“We had a real chance to win this dual against a top five team in the Class A ranks,” said Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “We lost a one-point match at 160 pounds and we had chances to win at 182 pounds as well, but both of those swing matches went the wrong way. If we had won those swing matches, we would have won the dual.”
The second round opponent for Watford City was the Mandan Braves, who are ranked eighth in the state for Class A teams.
“They were a tough matchup for us,” stated Greenwood. “The lineups just didn’t mesh well for us to get a lot of good matchups, but maybe that’s just because they’re an awfully good team. They didn’t really have many weak spots.”
The Wolves won five matches in the dual, while the Braves picked up wins in the other nine bouts to win the dual, 50-22. Individual winners for Watford City were Dakota Garmann, Jade Hepper, Logan Gumke, Coleton Jore, and Jake Belland.
The dual portion of the tournament concluded with the Wolves taking on Minot High. Like Dickinson and Mandan, the Magicians are another top 10-ranked team in Class A.
Like the previous dual, the Wolves managed to win five of the 14 contested weight classes.
Individual winners were Jade Hepper, Logan Gumke, Coleton Jore, Clay Jorgenson and Jake Belland. Gumke, Jore, and Belland were the only three Wolves wrestlers to win all of their matches in all three of the duals. Jore won all three of his matches by pinfall. In the end the Magicians pulled ahead, 54-25, for the win.
On Saturday, the Dickinson Classic concluded with an individual tournament for varsity, as well as junior varsity competitors.
The Wolves entered six competitors in the varsity division and two in the junior varsity division,
In the varsity division, all six wrestlers placed in the top five of their respective weight classes.
Dakota Garmann placed fifth at 120 pounds. He lost his opening bout to the top-ranked wrestler and eventual tournament champion in his weight class, and then finished the event with two wins.
At 126 pounds, Jade Hepper entered the tournament as the number two-ranked wrestler, but left at number one as he won all three of his bouts on his way to the championship.
Logan Gumke continued his winning ways from the night before, winning two more matches on Saturday to reach the 132-pound championship match. In the finals, Gumke lost, 5-1, to Mandan’s Brandon Zachmaier, who is currently the third-ranked wrestler in Class A.
“Logan wrestled very well all weekend,” stated Greenwood. “He really put together some good game plans and wrestled smart matches.”
Coleton Jore entered the tournament as the top-ranked wrestler in the field at 145 pounds, and proved that was where he belonged, by picking up three consecutive pins to reach the championship match against Minot High’s Carson Mosser. The two battled to a 3-3 tie after regulation, with Jore scoring late in the match with a takedown to tie things up. He used the momentum to score another takedown in the sudden-death overtime period to win the tournament, and his first ever varsity tournament championship.
“Coleton has been at a completely different level as of late,” states Greenwood. “He’s wrestling more confidently than I have ever seen him wrestle. I think he’s been voted as one of our hardest workers the past couple years and he continues to work hard every day. It’s finally really starting to pay off for him.”
At 152 pounds, Clay Jorgenson advanced to the semifinal round before dropping a 5-3 overtime decision to Fargo South’s Augustus Siaway, one of the top-ranked wrestlers in Class A. Jorgenson then topped Yarkerseh Korlor, also from Fargo South, in the third place match.
“Clay really battled hard all weekend. He’s one of our best wrestlers, and he’s also in one of the deepest weight classes in the state so he really has to go to war every weekend,” stated Greenwood. “He ended up going 3-3 on the weekend, but every win was a hard-fought battle, and every loss was as well.”
Jake Belland, the third-ranked wrestler in the tournament at 220 pounds, started off with three consecutive wins, two by pin, to advance to the championship match against Williston’s Brett Sandberg. Sandberg came into the event with an undefeated record, and would ultimately leave the same way after pinning Belland in the first period of the championship bout.
“Jake wrestled awesome this weekend. He finished 6-1 overall between the duals and the individual tournament,” stated Greenwood. “He had a few bumps in the road early in the season, but he’s really turning things in the right direction and has been improving each time he steps on the mat.”
In spite of entering just six wrestlers in the varsity division of the tournament, the Wolves finished in fourth place of the 18-team field. The three teams that they lost to in the duals on Friday night were the only three teams to place ahead of the Wolves in the individual tournament.
“It’s fun to come into an event like this with a lot of out-of-state teams and a lot of Class A teams and be able to compete at a high level,” stated Greenwood. “It’s fun to look at the results and see that we finished ahead of some big schools like Fargo South, some of the Bismarck schools, and the rest of the Class B schools that were in the field.
Jackson Faller and Justin Schwartzenberger had fine showings for the Wolves in the junior varsity portion of the tournament. Faller won three consecutive matches en route to the tournament championship in the heavyweight division, while Schwartzenberger dropped his opening bout of the tournament, but then won every match after that coming back to place fifth.
“Jackson wrestled very well in the tournament,” stated Greenwood. “He was more aggressive than he normally is and he wrestled with some confidence.”
Junior High State Tournament
Watford City placed four of seven of its wrestlers at the Junior High State Tournament in Minot on Saturday.
Liam Shannon and Jayden Ybarra both advanced to the semifinal rounds, but each of them was defeated one match shy of the championship match. Shannon would go on to finish in third place overall, while Ybarra claimed fourth place.
Jake Leppell won his opening bout, but lost in the quarterfinals sending him to the consolation bracket where he rattled off three consecutive wins to claim fifth place honors at the 90-pound weight class. Carlton Turnquist competed in a five-man round-robin style bracket at 158 pounds. He lost his opening match to the eventual champion, but then won his next three consecutive bouts to finish 3-1 on the day and claim second place honors.
Cameron Taylor won a match, but did not reach the placing rounds at 105 pounds. CJ Thacker also won a match at 116 pounds, but lost to the eventual State runner-up and was eliminated by the eventual sixth place finisher in the tournament as well. Kaleb Shipman dropped his opening round match, then received a bye in the consolation rounds before being eliminated in the second consolation round.
Overall, the Wolves placed 15th out of 36 teams in the field consisting of Class A and B schools combined. The Wolves were the eighth highest Class B team in the event.