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Heath Hotzler, Published December 31 2009

High school wrestling: North files transfer petition; Fargo school alleges 2 West Fargo wrestlers should not be able to compete yet

Fargo North High School has filed a written complaint urging the North Dakota High School Activities Association to look into a possible transfer rule infraction by the family of West Fargo wrestling standouts Tyler and Preston Lehmann.

“If there are accusations that something is not within the rules, we are hoping those allegations are proven to be false,” West Fargo activities director Curt Jones said Wednesday.

NDHSAA executive secretary Sherm Sylling said an investigation will begin next week. The Lehmanns transferred to West Fargo from different schools and will be allowed to wrestle pending the outcome of the investigation.

Tyler, who recently committed to the University of Minnesota, came to West Fargo from Minnesota prep wrestling power Apple Valley. Preston transferred from Fargo North.

According to NDHSAA bylaws, a family must totally vacate their existing home and move into a new school district to be eligible immediately to participate in activities. If there isn’t a change of residence, an athlete is required to sit out varsity competition for 180 school days.

Tyler’s and Preston’s parents, Scott and Ellen Lehmann, have a residence in West Fargo, according to Jones.

Jones added the couple also owns a residence in north Fargo that they use to run a daycare facility. The family lived in the home before moving to West Fargo.

The NDHSAA bylaws also stipulate that “a second residence shall not meet the requirement” of a change in residence.

Scott Lehmann and Fargo North wrestling coach Nick Magee declined comment. North activities director Troy Cody did not return phone calls seeking comment.

If after the investigation Sylling determines that the transfer rule was broken, the matter will go before the executive board. The board’s next scheduled meeting is Jan. 23.

However, Sylling said a special meeting could be called earlier.

Punishment could range from probation for the school to suspension of the wrestlers, Sylling said.

West Fargo can appeal to the executive board if it believes no infraction has taken place. The school can also appeal any penalty to the full NDHSAA board of directors.

Sylling said the matter will be resolved as soon as possible. The North Dakota state wrestling tournament is scheduled for Feb. 18-20 at the Fargodome.

“In all fairness to the schools, we need to hurry it up,” he said.

Now a senior, Tyler Lehmann won back-to-back Class 3A state titles at 171 pounds at Apple Valley. He lived with a host family in that school district for the last three years.

Tyler wrestled for North varsity before transferring to Apple Valley.

Preston Lehmann made it to the 145-pound state quarterfinals for North last year as an eighth-grader.

Wrestling USA Magazine ranks Tyler Lehmann as the No. 2 high school senior at 189 in the country. West Fargo has a 6-0 dual record and ranked No. 2 in the latest Class A coaches’ poll.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562