Postseason countdown begins
While basketball may lay claim to March, early February is all about wrestling.
That said, the Packers are bearing down on the most thrilling part of their season: tournament time.
With just three duals and a tournament to go in the regular season, the time for working out kinks is all but over. Very soon, West Fargo will be thrust into action as it attempts to defend its East Region title for the second consecutive year, and the third time in four years. The event begins Saturday, Feb. 12, in Wahpeton.
State starts the following Thursday and runs through Saturday, Feb. 19, at the FargoDome. West Fargo will be attempting to defend its team dual title.
Last week, the Packers showed they still have plenty of fuel left in the tanks. With a dual against Moorhead on Tuesday followed by the Grand Forks Multiple Dual Tournament on Friday and Saturday, West Fargo finished with just one loss - in six duals.
Any doubts about the potency of this year's Packers team should be all but quelled after those results.
West Fargo started last week with a 56-10 dual win over Moorhead. The Spuds picked up two wins, but otherwise the Packers swept each weight category. A notable finish occurred in the 285-pound matchup, when the Packers' Labinot Lika pinned Isaac Mulinix in 25 seconds.
Later last week, West Fargo went north to face off against five teams in the dual tournament. Their only loss came Saturday against Bismarck, in which the Demons thumped the Packers 40-22. West Fargo defeated Williston 34-16, Mandan 46-19, Minot 63-6, and TMCHS (Belcourt) 55-18.
There are several Packers who have been thriving this season, and eight currently are ranked in the top six in the state in the most recent polls.
For instance, Jordan Shearer has been very strong all year, and will be going into the postseason attempting to defend both his East Region and State titles at 103 pounds. Right now, he is ranked second in the state behind Fargo North's Tom Walton.
Preston Lehmann took the East Region title at 160 pounds last season, and finished runner-up at state. He'll be looking to finish on top once again this year, though he moved up a weight class to 171 pounds, where he currently is ranked No. 1 in the state.
Trevor Kringlie, a fourth-place finisher at state last year, is ranked second this season at 112 pounds. Tom Kuehn is another Packer to watch, as the No. 1-ranked 130-pounder attempts to best last year's third-place East Region placing and runner-up state finish at 125 pounds.
Remaining top-ranked Packers include Weston Dobbler at No. 5 in 119 pounds, Angelo Sheppard at No. 3 in 125, Zach Neer at No. 4 in 152, and Zach Vetter at No. 2 in 189 pounds.
The Packers, who are ranked fourth in the state in the most recent Class A poll, will finish out the regular season very soon. They host Grand Forks Red River at 7 p.m. Thursday, before driving south Saturday to Aberdeen, S.D., for an invitational. West Fargo then has its final home match Feb. 3 against Fargo North at 7 p.m., while their final dual of the regular season is away at Wahpeton Feb. 4, at 7 p.m.