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Tom Mix, Published February 13 2013

Lehmann prepares for state tournament swan song

West Fargo - Today is the beginning of West Fargo senior Preston Lehmann’s final three days as a high school wrestler.

Lehmann – who is set to wrestle at North Dakota State next year – has a busy schedule. And as he sees it, a lot yet to accomplish.

The defending North Dakota Class A, 182-pound state champion begins his quest for a third individual state title today during the state tournament at the Fargodome. West Fargo is also defending its team dual and team individual state championships.

“I knew it was going to end at some point,” Lehmann said. “I’m OK with how my high school career has gone so far. I look back on it and I’m happy with it.”

There have been a lot of things to be happy about. Lehmann is ranked No. 6 nationally in the InterMat Wrestling high school rankings and is seeded No. 1 entering the individual tournament.

Lehmann holds a 43-0 record this season and has a career mark of 213-30.

“He has had an awesome career here,” West Fargo head coach Kayle Dangerud said. “He has done some great things this year. You take a look at our schedule, and he was able to win all those tough tournaments, keep an undefeated record and also set the all-time state pins record. Those things speak for themselves, and I know he has some unfinished business to take care of this weekend.”

Lehmann opens the individual tournament with a match against Jamestown’s Triston Shipley.

“I’ve got to stay focused,” Lehmann said. “You can’t get lazy out there. I still have to wrestle 100 percent no matter who is on the mat, and I can’t take anything lightly.”

Other Packers going for multiple-time individual titles are sophomore 126-pounder Jordan Shearer (43-2, seeded No. 1), senior 132-pounder Trevor Kringlie (15-3, seeded No. 1) and junior 152-pounder Anjelo Shepherd (25-6, seeded No. 3).

Like Lehmann, Kringlie is going for his third career title. Shearer and Shepherd each have three state titles. All of Shearer’s titles have come with the Packers. He owns the most individual championships in school history.

On top of the returning champions, West Fargo’s roster is also full of grapplers ready to add their names to the school’s list of champions.

Junior Kollin Kragnes (138 pounds) and sophomore Weston Dobler (145) were state runners-up a year ago.

Kragnes is seeded No. 2 and is 28-8 this season.

“It makes me a lot hungrier,” Kragnes said of losing the 126-pound championship match last season. “Last year I got the experience in it, and this year I just want to go after it.”

Dobler fell to Fargo Davies’ Cole Mehring in the 132-pound title match last season. He’s seeded No. 2 at 145 pounds.

“Second place is not where I want to be,” Dobler said. “That is the worst. I wrestled a lot of the same guys last year, so I know what to expect this time around.”

As a team, West Fargo put together an 18-0 dual record this season, and Dangerud said the outlook is positive heading into state.

“We are coming off a very good East Region tournament,” Dangerud said. “We just have to stay sharp and solid, plus feel good about ourselves. Those will be the keys to doing well this weekend.”

The Packers have never repeated as team dual or team individual state champions.

“We know what is at stake and we’ll all be working at keeping the championships at our school,” Lehmann said. “It is a big deal for all of us and we are all pushing hard to end it right this year.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562