Wrestlers post wins over Killdeer, Williston
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City varsity wrestling team opened its home season action on Dec. 1, when the Wolves hosted Killdeer and Williston in a triangular.
The event kicked off with a Region IV matchup between the Killdeer Cowboys and the Wolves with Watford City taking a 45-33 victory.
The Wolves won eight of the 14 weight classes, including pins in the three opening bouts of the dual.
“Our young lightweights were the difference in this matchup,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “Liam Shannon, CJ Thacker and Cameron Taylor, all eighth graders, got pins for us, and that was the difference in this match.”
Williston put Watford City on notice that they were going to be a tougher matchup when the Coyotes disposed of Killdeer, 48-21, in the night’s second dual.
Watford City and Williston tangled in the night’s finale, which was the closest contest of the evening.
The Wolves picked up two wins by forfeits to kick things off. After cutting the lead to six points, Jade Hepper picked up a big pin by wrestling up two weight classes from where he normally competes and pinned Williston’s Greg Vega.
Coleton Jore kept the momentum rolling when he picked up a pin of his own, and fellow senior Clay Jorgenson added some insurance when he bumped up a weight class and pinned Williston’s Brett Doeden at 160 pounds.
Jake Belland would put the nail in the coffin at 285 pounds when he also bumped up a weight class and got a pin for the Wolves, putting them up 15 points with only two matches remaining.
“This was a big win for our team,” stated Greenwood on Watford City’s 42-39 win over the Coyotes. “Again, it took a full team effort. We had some huge wins by some kids who were willing to bump up in weight and take on bigger opponents. But that selfless attitude is what made the difference.”
According to Greenwood, Hepper, Jorgenson and Belland all bumped up and got quality wins by pin for the Wolves.
“Perhaps the most important match of the night was where Austin Huseby bumped up all the way to 182 pounds, giving up nearly 20 pounds in weight, and lost in a decision,” stated Greenwood. “He saved us three points by not getting pinned, and those three points proved to be the difference in the dual.”
The Wolves went back to work on Saturday with a full schedule of wrestling, as the Junior High team traveled to Williston and the high school wrestlers competed in the Velva Invitational.
The Junior High had a great showing in Williston with Liam Shannon and Jayden Ybarra each winning tournament championships, while Jake Leppell, Cameron Taylor, and CJ Thacker each claimed runner-up honors. Kaleb Shipman and Carlton Turnquist each picked up wins in their brackets to post third place finishes.
Watford City 45, Killdeer 33
106: Liam Shannon pinned Dylan Tabor, 2:48.
113: CJ Thacker pinned Ryan Walker, 1:03.
120: Cameron Taylor pinned Daylon Wilkie, 2:33.
126: Antonio Garcia won by forfeit.
132: Dakota Garmann won by forfeit.
138: Jade Hepper decisioned Cole Dukart, 10-4.
145: Coleton Jore pinned by Tanner Rohde, 1:25.
152: David Arthur decisioned Clay Jorgenson, 9-7.
160: Justin Schwartzenberger pinned by Derek Tabor, 2:23.
170: Austin Huseby pinned by Dane Larsen, 2:32.
182: Dennis Connor pinned by Dillan Jepson, 1:37.
195: Killdeer won by forfeit.
220: Hunter Olson won by forfeit.
285: Jake Belland won by forfeit.
Watford City 42, Williston 39
106: Liam Shannon pinned by Austin Luther, 0:45.
113: CJ Thacker pinned by Dalton McKenzie, 5:45.
120: Cameron Taylor won by forfeit.
126: Antonio Garcia won by forfeit.
132: Dakota Garmann was pinned by Roy Isom, 3:30.
138: Jade Hepper pinned Greg Vega, 3:11.
145: Coleton Jore pinned Justen Herz, 2:45.
152: Williston won by forfeit.
160: Clay Jorgenson pinned Brett Doeden, 4:54.
170: Justin Schwartzenberger won by forfeit.
182: Austin Huseby decisioned by Royce Horswill, 6-0.
195: Connor Dennis pinned by Coy Turnquist, 3:44.
220: Hunter Olson pinned by Brett Sandbert, 1:03.
285: Jake Belland pinned Colton Gutknecht, 1:15.
The Wolves placed fifth overall in the 14-team field at Velva.
Eleven Watford City wrestlers competed, including nine in the varsity division and two in the junior varsity portion of the event.
Nine of the 11 Wolves placed in the top five of their respective weight classes.
Justin Schwartzenberger and Austin Huseby each competed in the 170-pound B division where Schwartzenberger was crowned Champion and Huseby claimed third place honors.
In the varsity portion of the tournament, the Wolves had one champion, three third place finishers, and three fifth place finishers.
Jade Hepper was the lone Champion for the Wolves as he won the 126-pound title, as he went 5-0 on the day to improve his season record to 10-0.
Hepper advanced to the final round of the tournament undefeated where he matched up with Carrington’s Matthew Neumiller, who was also undefeated at 7-0 on the season going into the match. Both wrestlers placed third in last year’s state tournament with Hepper wrestling at 120 pounds and Neumiller at 113 pounds.
Hepper controlled most of the match, picking up three takedowns in regulation and going into the third period ahead, 6-3. But Neumiller came storming back with a flurry of points and tied it up within the final seconds by escaping and scoring a takedown of his own. The match went to overtime, 6-6, and both wrestlers came very close to scoring in the sudden-death period early on. Hepper finally hit a low single-leg attack with about 12 seconds to go in the overtime period to score the match-ending two-point takedown, and getting the 8-6 win.
Connor Dennis, Jake Belland, and Jackson Faller each finished in fifth place for Watford City.
“This was a great event for Connor and Jackson, who are both freshmen and were competing in their first varsity matches,” stated Greenwood. “Each of them finished 2-2 on the day and both showed a lot of promise. They are both going to have very bright futures if they keep doing what they have been.”
A trio of seniors, Logan Gumke, Coleton Jore, and Clay Jorgenson, all reached the semifinals before suffering their only losses of the day to finish the tournament with 3-1 records and in third place.
“Our seniors competed hard and did some very good things today,” stated Greenwood. “We know it’s early in the season and while it’s never fun to lose matches, I think that it’s better to lose one now and have time to work on our mistakes, and make our weaknesses better, so that we can win those matches at the end of the year when it counts. All three of those kids lost to very good wrestlers, and I think that they have the ability to bounce back and beat those same kids down the road.”
The Wolves will be on the road this coming week as the junior varsity will compete in a triangular in Grenora on Thursday evening against MonDak and Williams County. The varsity will travel to Bowman on Saturday to compete in the Bowman Rotary Tournament, which will feature nearly every team in Region IV.