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Published February 16 2012

West Fargo advances at state wrestling tournament

BISMARCK – There is no room for error for the West Fargo wrestling team at the North Dakota Class A state high school dual wrestling tournament.

Each match counts in this format. And the Packers want to dominate every time they are on the mat.

West Fargo got the start it wanted Thursday with a 58-6 victory against Turtle Mountain-Belcourt during first-round action at the Bismarck Civic Center. The Packers will take on Williston today in the semifinals.

“I thought we came out and wrestled aggressively,” West Fargo coach Kayle Dangerud said. “We wrestled our match and dictated the pace. We have to maximize everything we have. If we do that, things will fall wherever they do.”

It wasn’t that the Packers won Thursday. That part could have been expected after a standout regular season in which the team finished 19-0 in duals.

It was the way West Fargo won, dominating almost every match along the way. The Packers pinned their opponents in six of 14 matches. Even the matches that pitted a pair of highly-touted wrestlers against each other turned out to be one-sided.

Trevor Kringlie, seeded No. 1 at the 120 pounds in the Class A individual tournament, scored a 6-1 win against No. 2 seed Terry LaVallie.

Kringlie and LaVallie each had two losses entering the tournament.

“The scoreboard tells it,” said West Fargo junior 182-pounder Preston Lehmann, who pinned Brandon Rodriguez in 1 minute, 54 seconds. “We don’t want to win by just a little bit, we wanted to go out there and pin and dominate everybody who steps on the mat.”

Turtle Mountain-Belcourt’s victories came from Wyatt Azure at 160 and Skyler Poitra at 220. Azure is a No. 2 seed and Poitra a No. 1 seed in the individual tournament.

West Fargo will now match up with another team that scored a runaway win in the first round.

Williston took care of Fargo Davies 58-15.

The Coyotes recorded eight pins against the Eagles, who with the dual already out of reach, emptied the bench in the later matches.

Williston has three wrestlers seeded in the top two of their individual weight classes. West Fargo has six seeded in the top two.

“We matched up horribly with them, truthfully,” Davies coach Keenan Spiess said. “We lost big to them earlier in the year. This is a first-year program. We go to the state tournament, and got second in the region individual. We are just going to try to do well in individuals and hopefully get a couple state champs.”

Perennial state title contender Bismarck cruised past Wahpeton 60-11 and Bismarck Century beat Grand Forks Central 40-22 in the other first-round duals.

Wahpeton junior Ethan Meide injured his neck against top-ranked and top-seeded Ryan Blees during the 138-pound dual match against Bismarck. Meide was in significant pain after the incident, and a backboard, neck brace and stretcher were used to take him off the mat. He was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

Huskies coach Kelly McNary said Meide will not be cleared by doctors to wrestle in the remainder of the tournament.

Meide was having neck spasms, and doctors believed he would be at greater risk for further injury, McNary said.

Meide did return to the Civic Center Thursday night to walk with his Wahpeton teammates in the parade of athletes.

“You always hope you can come in, compete hard and walk away healthy, too,” McNary said. “It’s unfortunate. But at least he’s all right.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com