Wrestlers take fourth at Bowman Rotary Tourney
By Neal A. Shipman
After battling the flu bug for a week, the Watford City Wolves wrestling team got healthy enough to take 15 athletes to Bowman on Saturday for the Bowman County Rotary.
The individual tournament consisted of seven teams, including five of the seven region four teams, as well as Dickinson and Baker, Mont., who won the tournament with 153 points.
Hettinger finished the tournament in second with 152 points, followed by Bowman County with 123 points and Watford City with 88.5 points. Rounding out the finishers was Killdeer with 80 points, Dickinson with 78 points and Standing Rock with 30 points.
“Our approach going into the tournament was not to dwell on team statistics while short-handed, but instead to really focus on the individual efforts that were put forth,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “That seemed to work as 11 of our wrestlers finished with top five placements in the tournament.”
At Bowman, the Wolves had four wrestlers make the finals, Jade Hepper, 106 lbs.; Logan Gumke, 120 lbs.; Keegan Thompson, 152 lbs.; and Joe Nelson, 160 lbs.
“Hepper and Gumke were both coming off of runner-up finishes from a week ago and found themselves back in the finals hoping that the championship would not elude them for a second straight week,” stated Greenwood.
Hepper led things off as he wrestled in the very first match of the finals against top-seeded Alec Andress of Hettinger. Hepper controlled the match from start to finish as he cruised to an 11-4 decision.
Gumke squared off with Chauncey Hughes who, like Hepper’s opponent, was a top-seeded wrestler from Hettinger. These two were very familiar with one another as they had wrestled multiple times last season, each coming away with victories against the other. Hughes got off to a 4-0 lead going into the second period, but Gumke was able to tie it up with a turn from the top position in the second period. It looked like Gumke was on his way to securing a pin when the action was stopped due to bleeding on the mat. Hughes had suffered a bloody nose earlier in the match and had stuffed it with cotton, however it came out and the bleeding caused the referee to stop the match to clean up the mess. The break in action deflated Gumke’s momentum and was the extra boost that Hughes needed. Hughes went on to score the next six points over the final three minutes of the match to win 10-4.
Like Hepper and Gumke, Keegan Thompson would find himself in the finals against a top-seeded opponent from Hettinger in Rodney Vanhoff. Vanhoff was a region champion last season and is the top ranked wrestler in the region again this season. He showed why by coming out on top with a 8-0 major decision in the championship against Thompson. Despite being shut out in points, the match was very entertaining as both wrestlers competed very hard and Thompson found himself in many good positions to score out of, but the senior from Hettinger kept finding ways to defend.
At 160 pounds, Joe Nelson would find himself in a bout with Dickinson’s Rafael Lopez. The match was very competitive and points were hard to come by. After the first period the match remained scoreless. In the second period, Lopez scored two points on a reversal to make it 2-0 entering the third and final period. Nelson pushed the action all period as he tried to close the gap and was awarded one point for Lopez being penalized due to stalling. With time running out, Nelson made a last second attempt to score and ended up surrendering a takedown to make the final score 4-1 in favor of Lopez.
Austin Garmann, a senior, led the team with three wins, including two by pinfall to get third at 145 pounds, while 195-pound sophomore Kolton Hall also took third place.
Hall’s highlight of the day was pinning Kevin Sandgren of Hettinger, who was a state qualifier and came up just a win shy of placing at last year’s state tournament.
Placing in fourth for Watford City was Dakota Garmann at 106 lbs., Kyle Cook at 145 lbs., and Hunter Olson, at 220 lbs. Taking fifth in the tournament was Dakota Neether at 160 lbs. and Kye Bolken, at 285 lbs.
In the Junior High portion of the tournament, Joey Hall was crowned champion of his weight class after pinning all three of his opponents and Braedon Gumke took second place honors after pinning an opponent from Baker, Mont., and dropping a 23-14 back-and-forth thriller against a Hettinger wrestler, while Hunter Thompson finished in fifth place.
The next action for the Wolves will be on Dec. 14 and 15 when they compete in the Dickinson Classic, which will feature 30-plus teams.