Wrestling team looks to repeat success
Last year, the West Fargo Packers wrestling team finished 21-0 and won the North Dakota State Championship. They had 11 wrestlers that won 35 or more matches, four of whom won over 40, and three of them won individual state championships.
On top of all that, all but one starter is returning for this year.
It seems fairly safe to assume that this team can have an equally successful season.
Fifteen of the returning wrestlers for the team have previously placed in state and four of their wrestlers - seniors Preston Lehmann and Trevor Kringlie (two times each), junior Anjelo Shepherd and sophomore Jordan Shearer (three times each) - are multiple-time individual state champions.
"We have a really competitive group," Head Coach Kayle Dangerud said. "It's been enjoyable for us coaches (assistant coaches are Ethan Ehlert, Ben Imdieke and Dustin Kleppe) to be a part of a program where the kids really want to be the best.
"For a lot of these guys, it's not just about participation. They really have a vision of where they want to be and goals they want to accomplish. That's what separates them from other teams."
Dangerud, who is in his eighth year as West Fargo's head coach and 11th year on the coaching staff, credits the year-round dedication of his wrestlers and the unfailing support of parents for his team's success.
"We have a lot of kids that are wrestling nine - maybe 10 - months out of the year," Dangerud said. "They have the will. They love wrestling, and it's important to them. But those kids don't get to go to camps and offseason tournaments without their parents' support. That's a huge thing."
Wrestling Insider News (WIN) Magazine named the Packers the 25th-best team in the nation in their preseason rankings. InterMat Wrestling also ranked them nationally, placing them at 50th overall.
"Being at the top of the state year after year is our new challenge," Dangerud said. "When we have such a good group of kids, we should be looking at national rankings and taking that next step to stay there."
Dangerud also hopes that fans will see the talent on this team beyond Lehmann, Kringlie, Shepherd and Shearer.
"It's easy to see the state champs as a focus point, but this team has so many good kids from the lowest weight class to the highest," Dangerud said. "It's going to be fun to watch them perform this year. It really is a collective group thing over an individual thing. That's the great thing about wrestling."
The team begins its season on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a dual against Valley City.