Posted 1/06/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
The Wolves wrestling team kicked off 2015 in style by traveling to Fargo to compete in the Fargodome at the “Rumble on the Red” wrestling tournament. The tournament is one of the largest in-season wrestling tournaments in the Midwest and featured 62 teams from seven different states including North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and New Mexico.
The tournament features a varsity division that is considered to be one of the top 20 biggest, most difficult tournaments in the entire country. Unique to an event of this magnitude is that it also features a junior varsity division and an elementary team dual tournament
“The atmosphere is absolutely electric in that place,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “That is exactly why I wanted our team to experience this event. I wanted these kids to be a part of something huge and to be able to compete in a big tournament like this so that when we get to the end of the year and it’s time to wrestle in the Fargodome at the State Tournament, our nerves won’t effect us quite as much. They’ll be used to it and know what to expect.”
Eleven Watford City wrestlers took part in the event with Jade Hepper being the only Wolves wrestler to compete in the varsity portion of the tournament, while 10 others wrestled in the junior varsity portion of the tournament.
“This isn’t your run-of-the-mill junior varsity tournament,” stated Greenwood. “There are state place winners, state qualifiers, and other very good wrestlers from all over the country who enter this junior varsity tournament. Last year there was a kid who won his junior varsity championship match by one point and then went on to win the North Dakota State Tournament.”
Jake Leppell and Liam Shannon both competed at the 95-pound division which featured 40 participants. Leppell dropped his first match before coming back strong to earn two consecutive wins by pin. He then lost his fourth match, which eliminated him from the event.
Shannon started out strong as he received a first round bye, and then lit up the scoreboard with a technical fall in the second round. In the third round, he picked up an overtime win to advance to the quarterfinals. In the final round of the first day Liam found himself trailing in the match before throwing his opponent to his back and getting a pin to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. He lost in the semifinal round, 7-5, before coming back to pin his Hillsboro opponent. In the final match, he was defeated, 8-1, by his opponent from Albert Lea, Minn., to finish in fourth place.
CJ Thacker, who competed at 113 pounds, received a first round bye and then collected two consecutive wins by pin over opponents from Eagan, Minn., and Hillsboro, to advance to the quarterfinal round. Thacker was then defeated 10-4 by his opponent from Annandale, Minn., and was then pinned by an Osseo, Minn. wrestler to finish the tournament with a 2-2 record.
Dakota Garmann, who wrestled at 120 pound, picked up a major decision in the first round against his opponent from Valley City, and then pinned his opponent from Sidney in the second round. In the third round he was defeated 7-2 by his opponent from Scott West, Minn., and then dropped a 5-2 decision to a Wahpeton opponent to finish with a 2-2 record.
At 126 pounds, Jade Hepper received a first round bye and then wrestled Lane Berg from Central Cass. Hepper then decisioned Wahpeton’s Gavin Lenoue, who is ranked fourth in Class A, 7-6, to advance to the quarterfinals.
Ben Kelvington from Scott West, Minn., who is ranked fourth in Minnesota’s AAA division, then pinned Hepper. Hepper then rebounded from that loss by earning a 7-5 decision over Riley White, who is ranked No. 10 in Minnesota’s AAA division. Hepper was then decisioned, 12-0, by Wade Sullivan, a State Champion from Lakeville North, Minn. Hepper then won seventh place in the tournament following a medical forfeit from defending “Rumble on the Red” Champion Tanner Cole from Owatonna, Minn.
At 132 pounds, Logan Gumke battled his way through a 52-man bracket as he won five consecutive matches to reach the championship bout. He picked up a convincing 12-0 win against his first round opponent from Coon Rapids, Minn., then pinned back-to-back opponents from Wahpeton, and Dovery-Eyota, Minn. to reach the quarterfinals. Gumke then decisioned his opponent from Centenniel, Minn., 5-0 and decisioned his Scott West opponent, 9-6, to advance to the championship round.
The championship match pitted Gumke against Rapid City’s Jon Henrich, who placed third in South Dakota’s Class A State Tournament last season. Henrich proved to be too much in the finals and came out with a 12-1 major decision over Gumke.
Coleton Jore competed in the largest bracket as he navigated his way through a 56-man bracket at 145 pounds. Jore opened the tournament with a 12-2 win against his opponent from Owatonna, Minn. He then pinned a Centenniel, Minn., opponent and finally won 12-0 against a Moorhead, Minn., opponent to reach the quarterfinals where he decisioned Jamestown’s Lucas Shirley, 6-0 .
Jore then lost a pair of matches falling by a 13-4 decision to a Chaska-Chanhassen, Minn., opponent and 4-3 against the Centenniel opponent.
In the final round, Jore received a medical forfeit from his opponent from Border West, who was injured in the round prior to this matchup and could not compete.
Justin Schwartzenberger received a first round bye and then a second round forfeit at 160 pounds, before being pinned in the third round by his opponent from Sisseton, S.D. Schwartzenberger then pinned a Windom/Mountain Lake, Minn., wrestler before his tournament ended with a loss to Hanjae Joo from Woodbury, Minn.
Connor Dennis, who wrestled at 170 pounds, picked up a 37-second pin against his first opponent from White Bear Lake, Minn., and then battled to a 6-4 win against a Chisago Lakes, Minn., opponent. In his third round match, Connor then pinned his next opponent before being eliminated from the tournament after a losing a 7-2 decision to a Coon Rapids wrestler, and by being pinned by George Smith from Lisbon.
Jake Belland cruised through the competition in his bracket of 45 competitors as he received a first round bye and then pinned three consecutive opponents from Thief River Falls, Orono, and Woodbury to reach the semifinals. In his semifinal round, Belland was pinned by Sidney’s Hunter Sivertson. He would then earn a 5-2 decision over a Coon Rapids, Minn., opponent and then pinned a Rapid City wrestler to take third place.
Jackson Faller rounded out the Wolves lineup as he competed in the heavyweight division of the tournament. Faller received two consecutive byes before being pinned by a Detroit Lakes, Minn., wrestler. Faller then picked up three pins over wrestlers from Spring Lake Park, Osseo and Cloquet-Esko, Minn.
Faller then took eighth place after being pinned by a wrestler from Owatonna, Minn., and being pinned, 7-1, by Hunter Downey from Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Minn.
As a team, the Wolves finished in eighth place of the junior varsity division, which was the highest placing team of all North Dakota teams in the event.
The Wolves’ next wrestling action will be on Thursday as they compete against Stanley and Minot Bishop Ryan in a triangular at Stanley. The team will then compete in the Hettinger Classic on Friday and Saturday.