Three West Fargo wrestlers recently got the chance to put their skills to the test.
Scott Schiller, Tom Kuehn and Trevor Kringlie competed in the USA Wrestling Junior National Duals on June 24-28, in Oklahoma City. The trio joined other area top talent to represent North Dakota at the dual. The tournament featured both freestyle and Greco-Roman events.
"It was pretty good. There was a lot of competition down there," Schiller said.
"I think it was a great experience because you were wrestling top-notch talent from across the region," Kuehn said.
Though neither Schiller nor Kuehn were certain of exactly how North Dakota placed overall, the team did finish 5-4 in freestyle and 5-3 in Greco-Roman. Schiller said he saw an improvement overall.
"It was better than last year. I think we placed ninth or 10th in Greco and, like, 500th in freestyle," he said, with a laugh. "But it was good for us. During Greco, we're a lot better...but in freestyle a lot of guys get beat up."
Schiller preformed well, going undefeated in freestyle at 5-0 at 215 pounds and finishing 5-2 in Greco-Roman. The results weren't too surprising, he said.
"I figured I'd do well in freestyle. I'm a little better in freestyle than Greco," Schiller said.
The other two West Fargo wrestlers also held their own during the five-day dual. Kringlie, an incoming sophomore who placed fourth at 103 pounds in last season's state tournament, was 3-1 at 105 pounds in freestyle and 5-3 in Greco-Roman. The runner-up at 125 pounds at the state tournament as a junior last season, Kuehn went 4-4 at 130 pounds in freestyle and 2-6 in Greco-Roman.
To help prepare for the dual, members of Team North Dakota took part in a two-day practice at Fargo South before leaving.
"You have to change your mindset from what you do in high school," Kuehn said, of the difference in wrestling styles between the dual and prep formats. "Every match was a battle. You're not going to just go out there and pin someone in 10 seconds."
With National Duals behind them, the West Fargo wrestlers already are looking to the next chapter.
The recently-graduated Schiller is looking forward to joining the University of Minnesota wrestling team as a redshirt freshman. Schiller, who signed a national letter of intent April 29, is becoming familiar with the team and will be joining another fellow Packer.
"Tyler (Lehmann) is going down there, and I met some guys at Junior Nationals who are going there," he said. "I'm excited and a bit nervous about being on my own, but it'll be OK."
Schiller said he was planning to head down to visit U of M soon. The 2009-10 Gophers finished seventh place at the NCAA Championships, and will return three All-Americans next season. Competitions, such as the National Duals, are key to sharpening skills learned at any level. "This stuff just helps make you a better wrestler," Schiller said.
Going 165-27 overall, Schiller had a stellar prep career with the Packers and said he wouldn't change much - except maybe how he ended at state.
"I felt it was successful," he said. "I ended up losing a couple times my sophomore and junior year, which was frustrating, but I went undefeated last year, so I met that goal.
"I just wish I could have gotten that last pin at state. I guess that's the only negative I can think of."
Schiller was 43-0 en route to his third consecutive state title, earning Senior Wrestler of the Year distinction and a No. 4 national ranking at 215.
Kuehn will be one of the West Fargo seniors who will have to fill the shoes of Schiller and Lehmann, and help lead the Packers to defend their state dual championship. Not an easy task, he said
"It's going to be a lot different not having Scott and Tyler," Kuehn said. "We're going to have to keep the intensity up."
Kuehn plans to take part in a two-week camp in Bismarck, which should help prepare him for the Junior and Cadet National Championships on July 18, at the Fargodome. He said, with the way things are going, the future of West Fargo wrestling is bright.
"Our program is growing more and more every year," he said.