Published February 18 2012
Packers flex wrestling prowess
Bolstered by three individual champions, the Packers earned their first individual team title since 2006 at the North Dakota state wrestling tournament Saturday at the Bismarck Civic Center.
“It feels good,” said West Fargo head coach Kayle Dangerud, whose team finished 31½ points ahead of four-time defending individual team champ Bismarck. “We’ve put a lot of hard work in during the past two years, and it’s finally paid off.”
The Packers received championship match wins from Jordan Shearer (106), Trevor Kringlie (120) and Preston Lehmann (182). Each member of the trio was the top-seeded wrestler in his weight class.
Shearer got the ball rolling with a 9-0 major decision against No. 2 seed Curt Zachmeier of Mandan. It’s Shearer’s third consecutive state championship.
He won titles each of the last two seasons at 103.
Kringlie followed with a nail-biting 8-6 win against Terry LaVallie of Turtle Mountain-Belcourt. Kringlie – who won the 112-pound championship last year – narrowly escaped a LaVallie comeback as time expired.
Kringlie’s second state title puts him on par with his father, Ryan, a former two-time champ at Bismarck High in 1991-92.
“With my dad wrestling through high school, I have to look up to that and know that I have to do my best” Kringlie said. “I have to show that I am the best. You want to live up to that.
“We also wanted to show people that we pushed each other in the wrestling room, and that gets us state titles.”
Lehmann had perhaps the most dominant run to a championship in Class A. He pinned each of his four opponents in a combined 5 minutes, 32 seconds. The junior has won titles in each of the last two years. Last year’s came at 171.
West Fargo was the individual state team runner-up the last two seasons. Last year, the Packers finished just 2½ points behind the Demons.
West Fargo finished with 223 points, Bismarck was second with 191½ and Bismarck Century was third with 125.
“Guys everywhere stepped up at some point in the individual or the dual tournament,” said Dangerud, who was named Class A coach of the year. “Ultimately everybody did a wonderful job and they really deserved this.”
Mehring makes history for Fargo Davies
Cole Mehring became the first Fargo Davies wrestler to win a state championship when he defeated West Fargo freshman Weston Dobler 6-3 in the 132-pound final.
“It’s really exciting,” said Mehring, who was third at 125 for Fargo South last season. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Mehring entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and advanced to the finals with a win against No. 2 seed Cody Haugen of Minot in the semifinals.
Dobler, the No. 4 seed, scored a 4-2 overtime win against top-seeded Izec Neer of Bismarck Century to reach the final.
Mehring held off Dobler with a takedown near the end of the third. He finishes the season 38-6.
“I think I had a really good seed,” Mehring said. “I wrestled tough. Being the underdog always helps. It gives you extra drive to go and get it.”
North’s Walton gets redemption at state
Fargo North junior Tom Walton has been working for this moment since the finish of last year’s state tournament.
Walton earned the first state title of his career with a pin of South sophomore Marlo Bell at 4 minutes, 52 seconds in the 106-pound title match.
“I worked even harder with the loss last year in the finals,” said Walton, who was defeated last year by West Fargo’s Jordan Shearer in the 103-pound title match. “I just wanted it bad, and I had to work extra hard for it.”
Walton countered Bell’s quickness with determination. He found a way to put the tenacious Bell on his back in the third period, and kept driving to pick up the pin.
Walton is North’s first champion since Anjelo Shepherd, who won at 112 in 2010.
“Waking up in the morning and doing extra workouts,” Walton said. “I was excited (for the season). I needed this.”
Braun caps unbelievable run with championship
Zane Braun entered state a No. 5 seed. He exited a state champ.
The Jamestown junior earned the title when Grand Forks Central junior Bryce Fish was forced to default at 152 due to an injury.
“It feels awesome,” said Braun, who was ahead 8-2 when Fish suffered the injury. “It’s the best thing you could ever feel at this moment.”
Braun was a standout throughout the tourney. He pinned his first two opponents before earning a 17-2 technical fall against top-seeded Eddie Maisey of Williston in the semifinals.
Maisey entered the tourney 34-4. He was second place last year at 135.
Braun finished sixth last year at 152.
“I have been waiting for this all year long,” Braun said. “I just wanted to go out there and win it. I got bummed out a few times when I was beaten by a few kids. But my dad and everybody told me to keep my head up. I pushed through it and came out on top.”
Maisey was named Class A senior athlete of the year. … Four of the five returning state champions earned another title Saturday. West Fargo’s Anjelo Shepherd, who suffered a severe high-ankle sprain in the first round, was the lone returning champ to not earn more hardware. Shepherd was unable to wrestle Saturday due to the injury. … Dangerud is the first West Fargo recipient of Class A coach of the year since the award began in 1966.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.
Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com