Posted 2/24/15 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
It was a roller coaster of highs and lows for the eight Watford City wrestlers that competed at the North Dakota Class B State Wrestling Tournament this past weekend at the Fargodome. But when the dust had settled, the Wolves had one third place finisher, one seventh place finisher and three eighth place finishers - the most that Watford City has had in a single state tournament since 2005.
Leading the way for the Wolves was Jade Hepper who claimed a third place finish at 126 pounds, while Logan Gumke took seventh place at 132 pounds. Taking eighth place for Watford City was Dakota Garmann at 120 pounds, Coleton Jore at 145 pounds and Jake Belland at 220 pounds.
The tournament kicked off on Thursday with the first round starting at 132 pounds with Logan Gumke taking on the second-rated wrestler, Caleb Dorich of LaMoure. Gumke, a senior, entered the event with a 36-16 record, kept the match close, but Dorich proved to be just too much on this day and came away with a 7-3 victory.
Coleton Jore, sporting a 45-15 record entering the state tournament, took on fifth-ranked Rylan Jacob of Linton in the 145-pound weight class. Jore and Jacob had faced one another twice previously this season with each coming away with a win. The match went back and forth into the third period where Jore found himself trailing late. But he was able to turn Jacob onto his back earning a pinfall and upsetting the number five-ranked wrestler in the state.
About the same time that Jore was winning his match, 152-pounder Clay Jorgenson found himself pitted against the fifth-ranked Reid Myers of Kindred. The two were very evenly matched and traded escapes in the second and third periods, respectively, to make it 1-1 late in the match. Myers scored a takedown late in the third period to come away with a 3-1 win, sending Jorgenson to the consolation bracket.
At 182 pounds, freshman Connor Dennis found himself pitted against the second-ranked Riley Lura, who would ultimately go on to win the state championship. Lura had too much experience for Dennis to compete with as the match was terminated in the first period by pinfall.
Jake Belland, a junior, was next up for the Wolves. Belland came into the tournament as the number eight seed with a 37-19 record on the season, and kicked off the tournament against Stanley’s Alex Kucera. Belland had previously pinned Kucera in three separate matches throughout the season. The fourth meeting would be no different as Belland controlled the match and got his pin in the second period.
CJ Thacker, an eighth grader competing at 113 pounds, had a tall task at hand as he faced off against the second-seeded Brandon Oien from Linton. Oien scored early and often as he ran away with a 16-2 major decision. Unfortunately for Thacker, he was injured in the match and was forced to withdraw from the tournament for precautionary measures.
“I felt horrible for CJ,” stated Mitch Greenwood, Wolves’ head coach. “He had a great season and I really do feel that he had a great shot at coming through the consolation bracket to get into the placing rounds.”
Wrestling at 120 pounds, Dakota Garmann faced off against the eighth-ranked Aaron Dean from Velva. Dean had defeated Garmann twice this season, however, Garman had pinned Dean in the championship match of the Levi Wisness Classic. Garmann pulled off a repeat performance at State by earning a first period pinfall and upsetting Dean.
Jade Hepper, the second-ranked wrestler at 126 pounds, went up against Northern Lights’ Melvin Azure. Hepper made short work of his opponent picking up a pin in the first period.
The four Wolves that won their first round match on Thursday came back that evening for the quarterfinal round.
Coleton Jore could not pull off a repeat performance by upsetting the fourth-seeded Brad Ladwig from Stanley. Ladwig won by pinfall in the second period. Jake Belland also had a tall task at hand as he squared off against top-ranked Nicholas Becker from Napoleon. Becker ultimately pinned Belland on his way to winning the 220-pound state championship. Garmann also ran into a number one-ranked wrestler in the quarterfinals in Linton’s Josh Schlosser. Garmann wrestled well, but was not able to get his offense going as he was defeated 6-0.
Hepper was the lone Watford City wrestler to pull out a win in the quarterfinals as he cruised to a 7-1 win over the seventh-ranked Elijah Hackman of Velva, sending him to the state semifinals for the second straight season.
The four wrestlers who lost in the first round came back on Friday morning hoping to extend their season in the wrestleback rounds.
Logan Gumke had his hands full with Jordan Urbach of Lisbon, but turned his opponent to his back in the third period to score the match winning nearfall points as time expired.
Clay Jorgenson also ran up against a Lisbon opponent in Gannon Johnson. Jorgenson was too much on his feet for Johnson, scoring often en route to a 8-2 victory.
Connor Dennis gave Alex Geritz, a senior from Central Cass, all he wanted in a very exciting match-up. The match went back and forth, and when the third period was over, it was 6-6. In the overtime period, Geritz scored two points and secured the win, knocking Dennis out of the tournament.
The second round of wrestlebacks, otherwise known as the “Blood Round” is often viewed as the most exciting and emotional round of the state tournament. With a win, the wrestler becomes a state place finisher; otherwise, their season is over.
The Wolves had five wrestlers in the “Blood Round.”
Jake Belland made the most of his match against Rugby’s Spencer Koehmstad and picked up a second period pinfall.
Dakota Garmann found himself pitted against Napoleon’s Jacob Bitz, who had defeated him in their only previous matchup this season by one point. Garmann went on the offense, scoring from all positions to cruise to a dominating 7-1 victory.
Logan Gumke found himself pitted against the eighth-ranked Alec Andress from Hettinger. The two had wrestled four times this season, with each winning two of the matchups. Gumke seemed to have figured out a winning formula as he executed his game plan to perfection, and scored eight takedowns to earn a 17-9 major decision.
Coleton Jore also had a familiar opponent in this round with Bowman County’s Brayden Jorgenson. Jore had pinned Jorgenson four times over the season; however, he would not get a pin in the fifth matchup. Nonetheless, Jore had his way with his opponent earning a 10-2 major decision.
Clay Jorgenson went up against the sixth-seeded Reid Mundahl from Rugby. Mundahl owned two previous wins over Jorgenson on the season, and on Friday he made it three wins as he caught Jorgenson in a bad position, putting him to his back and earning a win by pinfall, eliminating Jorgenson from the tournament.
In Friday’s night session, Jade Hepper competed in the semifinal round against third-ranked Brett Verville from Pembina County North. It was the second straight season that Hepper faced a Pembina County North opponent in the semifinals. Last year Hepper’s only loss in the state tournament came to State Champion Brayden Horgan. Verville jumped out a 2-0 lead early in the match by countering a takedown attempt and scoring one of his own. In the second period, the two traded reversals and Verville held a two-point lead entering the third period. Verville added another point with an escape, but Hepper closed the gap with a takedown. Another escape by Verville made it a two-point match. Verville was then penalized two consecutive points for an illegal hold and a stalling penalty to tie the match with just six seconds remaining. The match went to overtime and Hepper went on the offensive, taking a shot. However, Verville countered the move and spun behind Hepper, scoring the winning two points and advancing to the championship match.
Five Watford City wrestlers moved on to the final day of the tournament, but according to Greenwood, nothing would come easy.
Dakota Garmann kicked things off against the fourth seeded Wyatt Ledoux from Bishop Ryan. He dropped a 9-1 match, and then got caught in his seventh place match and was pinned, finishing in eighth place at 120 pounds.
At 126 pounds, Jade Hepper made it look easy against the fourth-ranked Lane Berg from Central Cass as he cruised to a 9-0 major decision to advance to the third place match against Bishop Ryan’s Aaron Sandy. The third place match went back and forth before Sandy scored a takedown with very little time remaining to go ahead by a point. Hepper, however, immediately countered with a five-point reversal and nearfall to win the bout by four points and claim third place honors for the second straight season.
At 132 pounds, Logan Gumke fell in the first consolation round to Velva’s Jeseb Mogen. He bounced back strong as he jumped out to a big lead early on against Bowman County’s Tyler Longland. Gumke beat Longland, the sixth-seeded wrestler, 9-3, and claimed seventh place honors.
Coleton Jore lost a nail-biter to Hillsboro’s Mark Hastings, 3-0, and then dropped his final match, 10-5, to Killdeer’s Tanner Rohde to finish in eighth place at 145 pounds.
Jake Belland dropped a pair of matches by scores of 12-3 and 5-2, to take eighth place at 220 pounds.
Overall, the Wolves finished in 15th place out of 34 teams competing.