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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 24 2010

Lehmann learns as he goes, finishing fourth at USA Wrestling Cadet freestyle tournament

The first several steps in the USA Wrestling ladder were not a problem for West Fargo’s Preston Lehmann. Those last couple, however, were a slippery slope.

Lehmann finished fourth in the Cadet freestyle 171-pound class on Friday and all-in-all, chalk it up to a good learning experience against some of the country’s top youth wrestlers.

“It was pretty incredible,” he said. “Last year I didn’t do very well and didn’t place, but I went back at it and worked harder for it.”

Lehmann won his first four matches in the Greco-Roman tournament earlier in the week, but was pinned in his final two and didn’t place. He was sharper in the freestyle division.

He pinned his first three opponents, all in less than 50 seconds. A 3-1, 7-4 win over Jacob Davis of Ohio was followed by two more pins – one in 26 seconds in the second period against Shelby Krout of Oklahoma after Lehmann won the first period 8-1 and another over Jonah Newburg of Ohio in 1:05.

“I wanted to get as many points as possible in case it came down to a three-way tie in the pool,” he said. “I didn’t want to go through any difficulties like that.”

But, in his bid to get into the title match, Jordan Rogers was just too much. The Washington prep state champion from Mead High in Spokane won a Greco-Roman title this week and followed it Friday with a freestyle crown. He wrestled for the U.S. team in this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and was a Schoolboy freestyle and Greco-Roman national champion in 2008.

“He beat me pretty bad,” Lehmann said. “He’s just better.”

Still, Lehmann got to ascend the medal stand on the Fargodome floor in the world’s largest wrestling tournament. He dropped a decision by technical fall, 6-0, 7-0, to Jack Dechow of Illinois in the third place match.

Greco-Roman and freestyle differ from the conventional high school and college folkstyle and Lehmann found out about technique in the medal round. It helps some states, he said, who have depth in the practice room.

“Some states just have more kids in their class to challenge them,” he said. “North Dakota did pretty well but other states just have more people to get it done.”

A pair of Bismarck wrestlers also attained All-American status from North Dakota: Ryan Glees finished eighth at 125 pounds and Kip Jangula was eighth at 160.

“This is a grind,” Lehmann said. “You have to have the mental attitude to make it through it. You always want to win it, so next year I’ll go back and work harder.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia