Posted 2/17/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City will be advancing eight wrestlers to the State Class B Wrestling Tournament following the Region 4 Individual Tournament, which was held at Fort Yates this past Saturday.
The Wolves finished the day with three runners-up and five third place finishers, which put them in fourth place in the team standings.
Making it to the State Tournament from Watford City, which will be held this Thursday through Saturday at the Fargo Dome are regional runners-up Jade Hepper, 126 lbs.; Coleton Jore, 145 lbs.; and Clay Jorgenson, 152 lbs. Qualifying for State with third place finishes was CJ Thacker, 113 lbs.; Dakota Garmann, 120 lbs.; Logan Gumke, 132 lbs.; Connor Dennis, 182 lbs.; and Jake Belland, 220 lbs.
Jade Hepper, who competed at 126 pounds, entered the event as the No. 2 wrestler in the region, won in his semifinal round and then took on No. 1-ranked Tyler Keener. Keener is the only Class B wrestler to own a win over Hepper this season. The two have actually wrestled four times prior to regionals, and each has beaten the other twice.
According to Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach, the match nearly ended prematurely as the two both shot in simultaneously and butted heads like a pair of rams.
“Thankfully, both were able to continue and put on a good show,” stated Greenwood.
Hepper scored four points in the third period with a Peterson roll to jump out to a four-point lead going into the third period. However, Keener came back late in the match scoring one point on a stalling penalty, then earning an escape, and scoring the tying and go-ahead points with a takedown in the final 10 seconds to win 6-5.
Coleton Jore and Clay Jorgenson have been practice partners all year as they man the 145 and 152-pound weight classes for the Wolves. And so, it was only fitting that the two took nearly identical routes to qualify for the state tournament.
Jore and Jorgenson each came into the event as the No. 2-seeded wrestlers in their weight classes. They both got first round byes and each of them secured takedowns in overtime to advance to the championship bouts.
Jore matched up in the finals against Killdeer’s Tanner Rohde. Rohde built an early lead, but Jore fought back and kept working hard throughout the match. In the end he ran out of time and lost, 5-3.
Jorgenson also fell behind early, but never gave up. He closed the score to within two points late in the match, but could not score the tying takedown and came away in second place in the region.
CJ Thacker came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed at 113 pounds, and nearly pulled off a big upset in the semifinal round as he led almost the entire match. But he gave up a few points in the closing seconds to get beat 8-6. Thacker bounced back with a pin in the third place match to punch his ticket to State.
Dakota Garmann lost a tight semi-final bout against Bowman County’s Clayton Mattern at 120 pounds, but then came back to win back-to-back matches against opponents from New Salem and Beulah/Hazen for a third place finish.
Logan Gumke wrestled very well at the 132-pound weight class as he jumped out to an early lead against the top seed, Brenden Harrison, from Standing Rock. Harrison then hit a Spladle against Gumke later in the period to earn a pin and advance to the finals. Gumke moved on to the third place match where he would face Bowman County’s Tyler Longland. Gumke and Longland have a history this year as they are 2-2 against one another. Gumke won the first two match-ups, while Longland has won the last two meetings. Gumke executed a great game plan and controlled the match from the onset as he cruised to a third place finish.
Connor Dennis, a first year wrestler for the Wolves, manned the 182-pound weight class. He had a first round bye before locking horns with Justice Roundy from Beulah/Hazen. Roundy earned a pin in the third period, but Dennis bounced back well. In the consolation round, Dennis knew he had to win to qualify for State, and a loss would send him home. He made the best of the opportunity by pinning his opponent from Hettinger in the first minute of the match. He carried that momentum into the third place match and secured another first period pin.
Jake Belland, who had suffered a bad ankle sprain in practice, was not at 100 percent for regionals. Belland came in as the No. 3-seeded wrestler in the region, but there were only four kids total in the weight class. Belland injury defaulted his first match, then received a bye into the third place match where he pinned his opponent from New Salem in the first period. Belland earned the No. 8 seed in the state tournament at 220 pounds.
Jackson Faller, who competed at 285 pounds for the Wolves, lost a first round matchup to Ryne Storsved from New Salem. He then took on Bowman County’s Jason Schade in their fifth matchup between the two heavyweights, with Schade having won all four previous meetings. Faller wrestled his best match of the year and closed the gap considerably between the two, but ultimately came up just short losing a two-point decision to finish fifth.
Liam Shannon found himself as the odd man out in a very competitive 106-pound weight bracket. Shannon placed fifth overall and each of the top four from his bracket are ranked in the top seven in the entire state, including both the number one and two-seeded wrestlers in the state tournament.
“The 106-pound class in Region 4 is as tough of a weight class as there is. And that’s just unfortunate for Liam,” states Greenwood. “Liam’s a tough kid, but he’s giving up 10 pounds to everyone else there as he’s a little under-sized right now. He’s going to grow into the weight, and when he does, he’s going to have tremendous success in the years to come. I’m very excited to see how he does in the post season events this spring where they have lighter weight classes and he’s the same size as everyone else.”
Carlton Turnquist was a late addition to the tournament filling in for an injured Kobe Norton at 160 pounds. Turnquist fought hard and did a lot of good things on the mat, but ultimately he lost his first match. He received a bye in the consolation match and lost his next match to move into the fifth place match where his opponent from Standing Rock could not compete due to an injury.
Justin Schwartzenberger filled the 170 weight class for the Wolves. He had a tough first round draw as he went up against the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class and was defeated. He then dropped his consolation bout and was eliminated from the competition.
“Justin had a good season,” stated Greenwood. “He came out for wrestling for the first time this year as a senior. That’s a tough thing to do, but he worked very hard and was a very coachable kid.”