Posted 1/15/14 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City wrestling team competed in the Beulah “Miner Invitational,” a nine-team individual tournament this past weekend. The tournament featured a mixture of Class A and B teams from North Dakota, including four Region IV teams as well as Bismarck High School, who has been recognized nationally this year as a top-40 team in the country.
The Wolves had 12 wrestlers in the event, however only eight of them scored points for the team.
Three of the wrestlers, Jake Leppell, Jack Heen, and Liam Shannon, participated in the 95-pound division of the tournament, which was a weight class created for the tournament due to a very large number of participants at the 106-pound weight class.
Among the three junior high wrestlers in this weight class, Liam Shannon picked up a pin in the semifinals to advance to the finals against Bowman’s Alex Madrigal. Madrigal won the match, 6-2, leaving Shannon a runner-up.
“Liam wrestled aggressively,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “Even at the 95-pound weight class, he was giving up almost 10 pounds to his opponent. The points that he gave up all came from counters to his moves. I really don’t mind seeing someone lose like that, going after it and trying to score. I’d much rather have it like that than to see someone lose because they’re afraid to pull the trigger and go after points in a match.”
Shannon was not the only Watford City wrestler to make it to the final round. Jade Hepper, Clay Jorgenson, Coleton Jore, and Keegan Thompson also got their chance to wrestle under the spotlight in the championship round of the Miner Invite.
Hepper, the third-seeded wrestler at 120 pounds, advanced to the finals after winning a very closely contested match over Bowman’s Matt Carlson, the second seed in the bracket. The 5-2 win avenged a loss to Carlson that Hepper suffered about a month ago. In the championship round, Hepper squared off with Bismarck High’s Kael Knowlen. Knowlen, the son of Co-Head Coach Scott Knowlen, is a defending Class A State Champion and an All-American Greco-Roman wrestler. Knowlen went on the attack early and rolled to a 16-0 technical fall.
Jorgenson and Jore followed the same blueprint in the tournament as Hepper. Each of them picked up closely contested wins in the semifinal round over regional opponents. Jorgenson defeated Beulah’s Damian Eslinger, 4-3, while Jore defeated Beulah’s Mason Faut, 6-4, in the very next match of the tournament.
Both Jorgenson and Jore also wrestled Bismarck High opponents in the championship rounds. Jorgenson went first at 138 pounds against Logan Boese, a sixth place finisher at last year’s State tournament. The match was very close throughout, but in the end Boese came out on top with a 3-2 win.
“Clay wrestled a smart match, but he was very conservative. That’s been one thing that’s been holding him back a little this year,” said Greenwood. “His best matches are the ones that he opens up more on offense. When he pulls the trigger, he’s very hard to beat. But when he’s not going on the attack, when he’s being conservative, he allows kids to hang around in matches and sometimes that results in losing close matches.”
Jore also met up with one of the Demons of Bismarck in his championship match. Returning State Runner-up Adam Blees certainly was not conservative as he racked up points quickly on his way to a 17-2 technical fall.
Two other wrestlers got to compete under the spotlight during the final round of this tournament, however, neither of them were competing for a title. Logan Gumke and Keegan Thompson were in round robin brackets and had been awarded top two seeds in the event, which meant each of them had setbacks in the earlier rounds of the tournament.
Gumke finished in fourth place at 126 pounds after losing two very close matches to Bowman’s Brayden Jorgenson and Beulah’s Tyler Erickson.
“Logan did not wrestle too badly. He just struggled to get his offense going. I give a lot of credit to the kids he wrestled for not making any mistakes and taking what was given to them.”
It was the fourth meeting this season between Gumke and Jorgenson, and according to Greenwood, the two will probably be seeing each other on the mat another time or two before the end of the year.
Keegan Thompson was the only wrestler for the Wolves to win under the spotlight. Trailing Beulah’s Justice Roundey, 3-4, with under 10 seconds remaining, Thompson secured a takedown and three backpoints to earn an 8-4 decision. Thompson, however, was pinned in the second round of his round robin bracket by Bismarck’s Jake Sanders, so the win over Roundey meant that Thompson would finish in second place.
The loss to Sanders was the first of the season for Thompson, who is now 15-1 on the year.
Jake Belland was the other place finisher for the Wolves as he came in fourth at heavyweight. Belland wrestled a very competitive back-and-forth match with Beulah’s Denzel Sanders in the semifinals before he was pinned in the second period. He then picked up a 23 second pin over Grenora’s Frank Fricke in the Consolation semifinals before losing to Bismarck’s Daryl Crispin in the third place match.
The Wolves will be back in action this weekend in their final two home events of the year. On Friday night, Watford City will host Stanley and the Williston JV starting at 6:30 p.m. and will then host the Levi Wisness Classic on Saturday. The tournament, which will feature Watford City, Beulah/Hazen, Bowman County, Grenora, Hettinger, the Williston JV, Stanley, Des Lacs/Burlington, Velva, and Glendive, Mont., will start at 11 a.m.
Region IV Coaches Poll
106 Pounds: 1. Jeremy Leintz, Beulah/Hazen; 2. Kyle Burwick, Hettinger/Scranton; 3. Chauncy Dittus, New Salem/Almont; 4. Matt Hildebrandt, Bowman County.
113 Pounds: 1. Tyler Longland, Bowman County; 2. Dakota Garmann, Watford City; 3. Cale Schelesky, Hettinger/Scranton; 4. Seth Johnson, New Salem/Almont.
120 Pounds: 1. Chauncey Hughes, Hettinger/Scranton; 2. Matt Carlson, Bowman County; 3. Jade Hepper, Watford City; 4. Zach Binstock, Killdeer.
126 Pounds: 1. Logan Gumke, Watford City; 2. Cole Dukart, Killdeer; 3. Braydin Jorgenson, Bowman County; 4. Tyler Erickson, Beulah/Hazen.
132 Pounds: 1. Tanner Rohde, Killdeer; 2. Brenden Harrison, Standing Rock; 3. Tyrell Mellmer, Beulah/Hazen; 4. Kilo Bowen, Hettinger/Scranton.
138 Pounds: 1. Cullen Seeger, New Salem/Almont; 2. Trevor Abrahamson, Hettinger/Scranton; 3. Clay Jorgenson, Watford City; 4. Josh Snyder, Beulah/Hazen.
145 Pounds: 1. Christian Hughes, Hettinger/Scranton; 2. Derek Tabor, Killdeer; 3. Kobe Murphy, Standing Rock; 4. Coleton Jore, Watford City.
152 Pounds: 1. Troy Steele, Bowman County; 2. Dane Larson, Killdeer; 3. Mason Faut, Beulah/Hazen; 4. Kyle Cook, Watford City.
160 Pounds: 1. Dillon Jepson, Killdeer; 2. Sterling Lee, Bowman County; 3. Ty Horning, Beulah/Hazen; 4. Dalton Schafer, Hettinger/Scranton.
170 Pounds: 1. Keegan Thompson, Watford City; 2. Michael Longland, Bowman County; 3. Daniel Arthur, Killdeer; 4. Jacob Schalesky, Hettinger/Scranton.
182 Pounds: 1. Denby Lueck, Hettinger/Scranton; 2. Justice Roundy, Beulah/Hazen; 3. Coleton Turner, Killdeer; 4. Hunter Olson, Watford City.
195 Pounds: 1. Evan Mellmer, Beulah/Hazen; 2. Colbey Steeke, Hettinger/Scranton; 3. David Dukart, Killdeer; 4. Logan Fettig, Watford City.
220 Pounds: 1. Isaac Ripplinger, Beulah/Hazen; 2. Jacob Hildebrandt, Bowman County; 3. Steven Harrison, Standing Rock; 4. Paul Abrahamson, Hettinger/Scranton.
285 Pounds: 1. Brandon Ehlers, Hettinger/Scranton; 2. Jade Standing Bear, Standing Rock; 3. Mac Stuber, Bowman County; 4. Jake Belland, Watford City.