West Fargo wrestlers defend state title
The West Fargo Packers ended this weekend’s North Dakota State Wrestling Tournament, like most other events this season, with a dominant performance at the Fargodome.
The team won the State championship for the second year in a row with an overall score of 232.5, just under 30 points ahead of the runner-up Bismarck Demons.
On top of that, the Packers had three wrestlers win the individual title in their respective weight class: sophomore Jordan Shearer at 126 pounds, sophomore Weston Dobler at 145 pounds and senior Preston Lehmann at 182 pounds, who was also named Senior Athlete of the Year.
Seniors Trevor Kringlie and Shelby Schulz finished in second place in the 132- and 160-pound class, respectively.
All 17 of the Packers’ state-qualifying wrestlers placed in the top eight of their weight class, which is a new North Dakota record.
“It was an awesome weekend,” Head Coach Kayle Dangerud said. “Everyone wrestled really well and I really couldn’t be more proud of those guys.”
Shearer managed to pin Grand Forks-Red River’s Sean Murphy in 2:53 for his fourth consecutive championship.
“He wrestled like he usually does,” Dangerud said. “He is a great athlete.”
Dobler edged out Valley City’s Shane Undem 6-4 to secure his second state championship.
“We knew going into the tournament that Weston had a great shot to win, and he really stepped up,” Dangerud said.
Lehmann, who will join his brother Tyler on the wrestling team at NDSU in the fall, pinned Bismarck Century’s Dillon Pierce in just over a minute to end his senior season with a perfect 50-0 record and his third straight championship. The victory was also Lehmann’s 180th career pin, a state record.
While the team went undefeated through the regular season, Dangerud claims it wasn’t always as easy as it looked.
“We have dealt with a lot of adversity and a lot of injuries throughout the season,” Dangerud said. “To place all 17 wrestlers – which has never been done before – really makes this program proud. Everybody sees ‘returning state champs’ on paper and thinks it will be easy, but these guys have worked very hard for everything they have earned.”
Last year, the team lost just one senior wrestler. This year, they will lose 11.
“We are going to lose a big senior class that has been a huge part of our success,” Dangerud said, “but we have some great guys stepping up, and hopefully we can pick up where we left off.”