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Published February 17 2012

West Fargo tops Bismarck for ND Class A dual wrestling title

BISMARCK – It was a nail-biting finish, but the West Fargo wrestling team got what it was after on Friday night.

The Packers held off Bismarck for a 35-23 victory in the North Dakota Class A dual tournament championship at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“I wouldn’t say it was our best performance of the year – probably the worst,” said West Fargo coach Kayle Dangerud, whose team has won two of the last three state dual titles. “But still, we will take a win when we can get it, especially when it’s in the state championship. It’s something to be proud of.”

The match was much more nip and tuck in the end than Dangerud would have liked.

It came down to the second-to-last match of the night.

West Fargo held a 29-23 lead when Kyle Kragnes stepped to the mat to face Ian Johnson at 152 pounds.

The match went back-and-forth until Kragnes took a late 7-6 lead.

Johnson nearly stole the victory away when he shot in on Kragnes, taking him to the mat as time expired.

He was not awarded any points, and the Packers sealed the victory.

“It was really scary,” Kragnes said of the finish of his match. “I didn’t know what happened. Turns out the ref didn’t give it to him. It was really crazy. I was just thinking that I needed to get the win to get the dual win. I was focused and ready to go.”

Kragnes’ match was only part of the story for West Fargo.

Christian Ramberg held off top-ranked and top-seeded Ryan Blees in the 138-pound match to keep the Packers in position to win.

Blees scored the 12-1 major decision. But Ramberg saved West Fargo two points by not giving up a pin to the tenacious Blees.

Then Anjelo Shepherd, who saw his bid for a fourth straight individual state title end earlier in the day, moved up to 145 and held off Ricky Purtle in an 11-1 major-decision loss. It was another two points saved.

Shepherd was reduced to wrestling nearly on one leg after suffering a severe high-ankle sprain Thursday in the individual semifinals.

“During the dual you are thinking about all the things you do right during the season and it doesn’t translate out there to the mat,” Dangerud said. “It gets frustrating during the dual. But guys found a way to win. Bismarck wrestled really well. They should be very proud of themselves. It’s a lesson for our team and our program that we need to be ready every single time we step on the mat.”

Preston Lehmann, Zach Eider, Jordan Shearer, Trevor Kringlie, Kollin Kragnes, Weston Dobler and Shelby Schulz each had wins for West Fargo.

The Demons have won 11 of the 13 state dual titles since the format was added to the tournament in 2000.

Bismarck has also earned nine individual team championships since 2000. West Fargo enters the final day of the individual tournament atop the team standings with 188. Bismarck is second with 141½.

“We had one of those type of things like, ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ a one in a million chance,” Bismarck co-head coach Jeff Schumacher said. “But we had a chance. We proved that we could have done it tonight. I am pretty proud of the kids to be able to do this.”

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

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com