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Tom Mix, Published February 08 2014

Packers win fifth straight East Region title

FARGO – A record-setting effort guided the West Fargo wrestling team to a five-peat Saturday at Fargo Davies High School.

The Packers scored 308.5 points as a team to win their fifth consecutive North Dakota East Region wrestling tournament team championship, topping last year’s mark of 302.5.

West Fargo had 12 wrestlers advance to the finals, which is the most in school history.

Six Packers took home individual championships, but head coach Kayle Dangerud said there is a lot of room for improvement before the state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“I thought we could have wrestled better in a few of the matches in the finals,” Dangerud said. “We started off strong, but we did not finish nearly as strong as we wanted to.”

Leading the way for West Fargo was junior Reed Cronin, who scored an 8-7 decision over Grand Forks Red River senior Sean Murphy in the 126-pound final.

Cronin’s younger brother Keegan is recovering from his first round of chemotherapy following his diagnosis of Stage 4 testicular cancer last month.

Many in attendance were wearing T-shirts that read “Take it down Keegan” including Reed, who scored a takedown in the final 20 seconds of the third period to post the win.

“I just kept grinding,” said Cronin, who was seeded third. “The whole match was a grind really and it came down to a few technical things at the end. I had to work for that takedown.”

Joining Cronin on the top spot of the awards stand were eighth grader Jared Franek (106 pounds), junior Jordan Shearer (132), junior Christian Ramberg (138), senior Anjelo Shepherd (145) and junior Weston Dobler (160).

The top eight wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state individual tournament.

Three Fargo Davies grapplers – senior Cole Alexander (170), junior Nick Kjera (195) and senior Hunter Swensen (285) – posted individual championships.

Alexander – ranked No. 2 in the state at 170 – scored an 11-3 major decision over top-ranked Kollin Kragnes of West Fargo. Kragnes picked up a decision over Alexander earlier in the year, but Alexander exploded in the first period.

“The last time I wrestled him I was defensive and wrestled to his element,” Alexander said. “This time I was more offensive, and those back points in the first period really helped out a lot.”

Also scoring individual championships were Wahpeton’s Wyatt Meyer (152) and the Valley City combo of Zach Doty (182) and Jordan Magnuson (220).

“I made sure I had a good warm up and came out ready to compete,” Meyer said of his 6-5 decision over West Fargo’s Jesse Shearer. “I wrestled the match I needed to wrestle against him.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562