Posted 2/20/13 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
In spite of only winning one of its 10 opening matches at the State Class B Wrestling Tournament this past weekend in Fargo, the Wolves bounced back to have two wrestlers place at the tournament.
Joe Nelson, who was the lone Watford City wrestler to win in opening round action, went on to take seventh place at 160 pounds. Jade Hepper also placed for the Wolves as he came back through the wrestlebacks to take eighth place at 106 pounds.
Nelson picked up a first round pin at 160 pounds over his opponent, Ty Jesz from Kenmare.
Hepper, who entered the tournament ranked as No. 7, lost his first round action to Kindred’s Trace Bakke.
“Joe’s been at State before,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “He wrestled at State last year and finished just one win shy of placing. He came in prepared to take care of business this year.”
But according to Greenwood, Hepper may have been overwhelmed by his first-time State experience.
“It was very easy to see that Jade was out of his element, kind of like a deer in headlights,” stated Greenwood. “That is going to happen with a young team. I’m hoping that if they can take anything away from this State Tournament, it is to get used to the atmosphere so it will not affect them negatively next season.”
At 160 pounds, senior Joe Nelson came into the State Tournament with one goal on his mind, to leave with some hardware through earning a top eight finish.
After his first round pin of Kenmare’s Ty Jesz, Nelson fell victim to a pin against South Border’s Tucker Meidinger for the second time this season. The loss set up Nelson for a rematch with Minot Ryan’s Jordan Will, whom Nelson had defeated soundly earlier this season.
Nelson, according to Greenwood, wrestled a confident match and picked up a second-period pin to guarantee a top eight finish. In the fourth match of the tournament, Nelson again was in a good position to better his place when he squared off with Pembina County North’s Cullen Blair. The match went back and forth, and in the end, Nelson came up on the wrong end of a 12-10 decision.
Nelson then capped off his high school wrestling career with a 9-3 decision over Carrington’s Brett Lyman to earn a seventh place finish.
After his first round loss, Hepper found himself squaring off with regional foe, Alec Andress from Hettinger, for the fifth time of the season. Hepper picked up a 12-6 win to improve to 4-1 against Andress for the season. Then Hepper went one step further and earned a hard-fought 7-6 decision over Larimore’s Thomas Gregoire to earn his way into the placing rounds.
Hepper was then pinned by Carrington’s Matthew Neumiller in 51 seconds before taking eighth place when he was pinned by Beulah/Hazen’s Tyrel Mellmer in 1:51.
According to Greenwood, after a tough first round, the team bounced back nicely in the second day as four other Watford City wrestlers picked up wins in the first round wrestlebacks on Friday morning.
At 113 pounds, Logan Gumke picked up a very impressive victory over New Town’s Tavares Fimbres by pinning him midway through the second period. Gumke then met up with Carrington’s Bryce Carr in a match to reach the placing rounds, but came up short of his goal as he lost 14-2.
“This was Gumke’s second consecutive year of reaching the State Tournament,” stated Greenwood. “And it was the first time he was able to register a win at State.”
Coleton Jore, another sophomore, like Gumke, found himself in a pair of very difficult matches as he drew in against the No. 3-ranked opponent to open the tournament, Grant Johnson from Lisbon, and then wrestled the No. 6-ranked Chase Jacob from Linton in the wrestleback round.
“Jacob was upset in the first round and looked to take out some frustrations on Jore earning a 19-1 technical fall,” stated Greenwood. “Jore was making his second consecutive trip to State after qualifying last year at 113 pounds.”
One of just two seniors on this year’s squad, Austin Garmann had a goal of placing at State in his final season on the mat, but also came up short.
“Garmann definitely came ready to wrestle,” stated Greenwood. “But unfortunately, he dropped a first-round match at 145 pounds by a score of 1-0 to Carrington’s Billy Holtan.”
After an opening-round loss where Garmann failed to score a single point, he lit up the scoreboard like a pinball game in the wrestleback round, defeating Minot Ryan’s Ben Mayer 16-2. Garmann then was pinned by No. 8-ranked Dalton Hamline from LaMoure.
“The match was very hard fought,” stated Greenwood. “But Hamline pulled off a slick move late in the second period that caught Garmann on his back, and Hamline was able to pick up the pin.”
Keegan Thompson, who wrestled at 152 pounds, was pinned by Oakes’ Trent Ptacek in the third period of his opening match and then bounced back to get a pin against Des Lacs/Burlington’s Matty Larson to set him up in a third round match that Thompson needed to win against South Border’s Jace Schilling to place at State.
“This was the second time the two had wrestled this year,” stated Greenwood. “Schilling had defeated him 10-0 at the East/West Tournament and again earned a 12-4 major decision at State.”
Dakota Neether, a junior who wrestled at 170 pounds, lost his first two matches to Nathan Schmaltz of Velva and Arturo DeLaCruz from Grafton.
“Neether definitely went above and beyond any expectations that we had for him this year,” stated Greenwood. “This is not an easy sport to pick up so quickly and he did a tremendous job. He worked very hard at practice and he’s a smart kid. That’s how he got as far as he did.”
Like Neether, Hunter Olson, at 182 pounds, and Tyler Krabbenhoft, at 220 pounds, were making their wrestling debuts for the Wolves this season as a sophomore and a freshman, respectively, and dropped their first two matches by pin at State.
“These two come in each day and work very hard,” stated Greenwood. “It’s not a coincidence that good things happened to them and they reached the State Tournament.”
Kye Bolken rounded out the long list of State qualifiers for the Wolves as he wrestled at 285 pounds. Bolken, just a freshman, was pinned in 40 seconds as he opened his tournament action against No. 4-ranked Tyson Lafferty from Pembina County North. Bolken then fought his way into the second period of the second match before Rolla’s Jonathan Wallette picked up another pin to eliminate Bolken from the tournament.
“Overall, I was very excited about how this team performed,” stated Greenwood, “When you factor in the youthfulness of this team and lack of varsity experience, it was truly amazing that we had 10 state qualifiers. We will certainly miss our seniors that we lose from this squad, but with the pieces that we have coming back, we will be in very good shape for the next couple of years. The sky is the limit for this team. It just depends on how hard they are willing to work in the off-season attending camps, lifting, and doing those other things needed to take the next step.”
State Tournament Results:
106 Pounds: Jade Hepper
Round 1: Trace Bakke, Kindred 4-0 Decision over Hepper
1st Round Wrestlebacks: Hepper 12-6 Decision over Alec Andress, Hettinger
2nd Round Wrestlebacks: Hepper 7-6 Decision over Thomas Gregoire, Larimore
3rd Round Wrestlebacks: Matthew Neumiller, Carrington pinned Hepper (0:51)
7th/8th Place Match: Tyrel Mellmer, Beulah/Hazen pinned Hepper (1:51)
113 Pounds: Logan Gumke
Round 1: Brett Verville, Pembina County North 7-0 Decision over Gumke
1st Round Wrestlebacks: Gumke pinned Tavares Fimbres, New Town (1:59)
2nd Round Wrestlebacks: Bryce Carr, Carrington 14-2 Major Decision over Gumke
126 Pounds: Coleton Jore
Round 1: Grant Johnson, Lisbon 15-0 Technical Fall over Jore
1st Round Wrestlebacks: Chase Jacob, Linton 19-1 Technical Fall over Jore
145 Pounds: Austin Garmann
Round 1: Billy Holtan, Carrington 1-0 Decision over Garmann
Wrestleback Round 1: Garmann 16-2 Major Decision over Ben Mayer, Minot Ryan
Wrestleback Round 2: Dalton Hamline, LaMoure pinned Garmann (2:50)
152 Pounds: Keegan Thompson
Round 1: Trent Ptacek, Oakes pinned Thompson (4:45)
Wrestleback Round 1: Thompson pinned Matty Larson, Des Lacs/Burlington (2:50)
Wrestleback Round 2: Jace Schilling, South Border 12-4 Major Decision over Thompson
160 Pounds: Joe Nelson
1st Round: Nelson pinned Ty Jesz, Kenmare (1:24)
2nd Round: Tucker Meidinger, South Border pinned Nelson (2:24)
2nd Round Wrestlebacks: Nelson pinned Jordan Will, Minot Ryan (1:43)
3rd Round Wrestlebacks: Cullen Blair, Pembina County North 12-10 Decision over Nelson
7th/8th Place Match: Nelson 9-3 Decision over Brett Lyman, Carrington
170 Pounds: Dakota Neether
1st Round: Nathan Schmaltz, Velva pinned Neether (1:23)
Wrestleback Round: Arturo DeLaCruz, Grafton pinned Neether (2:22)
182 Pounds: Hunter Olson
Round 1: James Thielges, South Border pinned Olson (1:23)
Wrestleback Round: Aiden Shafer, Minot Ryan pinned Olson (0:48)
220 Pounds: Tyler Krabbenhoft
Round 1: Tyler Allers, Minot Ryan pinned Krabbenhoft (1:16)
Wrestleback Round: Coleton Turner, Killdeer pinned Krabbenhoft (0:56)
285 Pounds: Kye Bolken
Round 1: Tyson Lafferty, Pembina County North pinned Bolken (0:40)
Wrestleback Round: John Wallette, Rolla pinned Bolken (2:39)