Wrestlers win Levi Wisness Classic
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City claimed five individual wrestling championship titles as the Wolves won the Levi Wisness Classic Tournament on Saturday.
Claiming individual crowns for the Wolves was Liam Shannon, Braedon Gumke, Jade Hepper, Connor Dennis and Jake Belland, while Dakota Garmann and Kyle Cook finished the tournament in second place.
This week, the Wolves will travel to Scranton on Thursday evening for a dual against region rivals Hettinger-Scranton, before competing in the two-day East-West Tournament at New Salem.
“The East-West tells a lot about where we’re at as a team,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “Twenty-four of the 32 teams in the state attend this tournament. It’s a great measuring stick and a great opportunity to set yourself up for a good state tournament seed. It will be the first and only time all season long that we see a handful of the teams that attend this tournament.”
Levi Wisness Classic
The Watford City wrestlers started out hot this past Saturday at the Levi Wisness Classic with the first nine Wolves’ wrestlers picking up wins, seven of which came by way of pin.
The Wolves jumped out to an early lead and despite two teams, Velva and Beulah/Hazen, both top eight-ranked teams in the state, hot on their heals, the Wolves used five champions to keep the lead and win the team championship.
Liam Shannon and Jake Leppell each competed at 106 pounds for the Wolves. Shannon picked up two first period pins to quickly advance to the finals, while Leppell picked up a first round pin of his own before dropping a 6-0 decision in the semifinals to Stanley’s Cody Rudolph.
Leppell closed out the day with two more wins to finish in third place.
Shannon and Rudolph met up in the finals and Shannon used his takedowns to pick up a 7-4 win and earn the 106 pound championship. It was the third time Shannon has defeated Rudolph this season.
At 113 pounds, Bradeon Gumke would make his way to the finals by pinning his first three opponents where he took on Kaiden Meiers of Stanley.
In one of the closest matches of the finals, the pair wrestled to a 1-1 tie, with neither wrestler being able to score in the first overtime period.
In the second overtime, Meiers scored an escape before Gumke scored a reversal straight to backpoints and picked up two nearfall points. Meiers could fight off his back and get another escape, but Gumke would win the match, 5-3, to earn the championship at 113 pounds.
Dakota Garmann advanced to the tournament finals at 126 pounds after posting a first period pin in his opening match and a 6-3 decision over DLB’s Coy Spooner in the semifinals. Garmann matched up with Velva’s Aaron Dean in a rematch of last year’s Levis Wisness Classic finals, with Spooner picking up a pin in the second period.
Antonio Garcia picked up a first period pin before getting pinned himself by the eventual 132-pound tournament champion, Jeseb Mogen from Velva. Garcia bounced back and earned his second win by pin in the consolation quarterfinals to advance to the third place match. In his final match of the day, Garcia was pinned by DLB’s Walter Winkler in the second period to finish in fourth place.
Jade Hepper, who is no stranger to the Levi Wisness Classic championship round, cruised to the 138-pound finals following a 12-2 major decision and a 16-0 technical fall. Hepper, who is ranked No. 4 in the state, claimed his fifth Levi Wisness Classic crown, with a 4-2 decision over Velva’s Elijah Hackman.
Hunter Schwartzenberger, Watford City’s 145-pounder, had his best showing of the season going 3-1 en route to a third place finish. He picked up his third pin of the tournament in dramatic fashion when he scored a two-point reversal and quickly turned his opponent to his back, pinning his opponent with just 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
Kyle Cook, wrestling at 152 pounds, cruised to the finals after picking up a 20-6 major decision and then a pin in the semifinals. In a matchup of the two top-ranked 152-pound wrestlers in Region 4, Cook would face off with Beulah/Hazen’s Tyler Erickson. Erickson kept the scoring to a minimum to win the match, 4-3.
At 160 pounds, Carlton Turnquist dropped his first match, 16-0, against Stanley’s Dalton Brown, before being decisioned, 7-5, by MonDak’s Brandon Ledahl.
Connor Dennis, at 182 pounds, became the fourth champion that the Wolves crowned. And he did so in impressive fashion as he worked his way through a five-man round-robin bracket collecting four pins, none of which lasted longer than 57 seconds. The championship was the fourth tournament that Dennis, a sophomore, has won this year as he ran his record up to 41-6 on the season.
Jake Belland, champion number five for Watford City came in what was by far the deepest weight class in the tournament with the 220-pound bracket featuring the number two, three, five, and seventh-ranked wrestlers in the state.
Belland navigated his way to the finals after pinning seventh-ranked Jaryn Rassmussen from Williams County, and then he met up with Denzel Sanders of Beulah/Hazen, the No. 3- ranked wrestler.
In the finals, Belland controlled the action earning a tournament championship with an 8-0 major decision.
Jackson Faller navigated the bottom half of the heavyweight bracket by picking up two pins to advance to the championship against No. 7-ranked Bronson Flynn from New Town. The two battled hard for two and a half periods, with the score knotted 3-3, when Faller made a costly mistake that put him on his back and resulted in a pin for Flynn and a runner-up finish for Faller.