Packers shooting for five state champions, team title
Some North Dakota wrestlers only dream of state championships. With the history of the program and its success in the Eastern Dakota Conference meet, those dreams are expectations for West Fargo.
Head coach Kevin Fynboh said his "realistic goal" is to see five Packers win an individual state championship and is hoping for a team championship to boot.
West Fargo, the No. 1 seed out of the East Region, has four returning state champions going into the North Dakota state tournament starting on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Fargodome
"Everyone's talking about accolades. My whole goal is so hopefully they're peaking and reaching their maximum potential at the end of the year," Fynboh said. "Even if we don't have that or meet those goals, I would consider it a successful state tournament."
West Fargo (14-8, 9-0 EDC) starts with West Region No. 4-seeded Mandan, which beat the Packers 40-25 in a regular season dual, in the team competition. During the regular season, West Fargo was 3-0 against the other EDC teams at state but 0-3 against the four West Region teams. However, he added seeds ultimately don't matter if the team isn't ready to battle.
The parody amongst other teams was on display during the EDC meet on Saturday, Feb. 11, in Grand Forks when the Packers were second as a team to Fargo Davies, which won the team title with 255.5 points, edging West Fargo by two points.
The Eagles won with their depth, but West Fargo led all teams with five region champions: JJ Harms (113), Jared Franek (152), Cade Pederson (160) and NDSU commits Jesse Shearer (182) and Brandon Metz (285).
Harms, Franek, Shearer and Metz were repeat region champions with Franek, Harms, Shearer and Metz, who was named the region's senior athlete of the year, as reigning state champions. The Packers will have 15 wrestlers compete individually in the state tournament.
Fynboh said his lead wrestlers, including those already committed to college, have continued to develop despite their accomplishments. They're already starting to prepare for the next level, and Fynboh said he and his coaching staff are trying to prepare them the best he can.
"It's a great accomplishment to win a state title, but the mentality is they want to get better," Fynboh said. "They've got some big goals at the next level, and we don't want to sell them short. We want to send them to college the best way they can be."
Past state champion Chase Teiken injured his arm in a wrestling tournament in the middle of December going against a nationally ranked wrestler, ending his West Fargo wrestling career. Having already won a state title, Teiken could've simply focused on his football career after high school at Northern State.
Teiken is still the leader he was before the injury, Fynboh said, because Teiken's competitiveness and work ethic, whether he's wrestling or not, is second to none.
"I think he's been a good example, a role model and leader. He's been in the room every day since his injury and has acted like he's a coach and mentor," Fynboh said. "I think that speaks a lot to his character. He still wants to be around and contribute."
The Packers miss Teiken, Fynboh said, but they have to focus on the solution and not the problem moving forward. He's looking for the rest of his lineup in the team competition to step up, and he's already seen some highlights from the youth in Teiken's absence this season. The experience for the younger wrestlers should set West Fargo up nicely in the years to come, Fynboh said.
"We seemed to have found a guy or two to perform or get a pin when he didn't expect it," Fynboh said. "You've got to be ready to be that next man up and meet the task at hand. I think the guys have done a nice job of meeting that expectation."
Sheyenne looks forward to state tourney experience
West Fargo Sheyenne (3-10, 1-8) qualified six of eight wrestlers to the state tournament. Hunter Hermanson was the best finisher for Sheyenne by taking runner-up at 113 pounds and losing in the championship to Harms.
Head coach Lex Lunde said the program's second season is going much smoother compared to last year. Sheyenne took three dual wins during the regular season with only one senior and four juniors on the roster. The team's progression has been going well, Lunde said, and the younger wrestlers have been getting much needed experience by sticking the long season out.
"We're starting to compete with schools in the EDC. We've been wrestling much better," Lunde said. "That's a big thing. We know going into these duals we don't have a good chance of winning them, but we want to win a majority of the matches we have guys."
Lunde said the Mustangs have the work ethic to win, but the sting of losses is only making the program better. He said the EDC meet and the state tournament are ways for Sheyenne to prove its skill.
This late in the year, Lunde said he isn't putting any extra pressure on his team with an extra training — the state spotlight is motivation enough. Lunde said the state tournament is an opportunity for the Mustangs to get some much needed experience on a big stage.
"Now it's just time to focus. We've had this goal for the past three weeks," Lunde said. "Now it's time to get excited. I know us coaches are."
Eastern Dakota Conference meet
Fargo Davies 255.5, West Fargo 253.5, Wahpeton 188.5, Grand Forks Central 185, Valley City 145, Devils Lake 125, Fargo North 119, Fargo South 76, GF Red River 68, West Fargo Sheyenne 57.5
Top eight state qualifiers
106: Championship—Chase DeBlaere, FD, over Chase Hanson, FN, 4:34; third: Jacob Thomas, South, over Ashise Gurung, South, 3-2; fifth: tie, DaShaun Lewis, GFC, and Nicholas Anderson, WF (match limit); seventh: Kellen Hoornaert, WFS, over Austin Rogelstad, VC, 7-0.
113: Championship—Justin Harms, WF, over Hunter Hermanson, WFS, 1:04; third: David Fry, FD, over Preston James, FN, 5-4; fifth: Ty Weber, FD, over Brock Brandon, GFC, by forfeit; seventh: Jonah Schuldheisz, VC, over Isaac Piseno, RR, 6-2
120: Championship—Danny Monatukwa, FN, over Declan Genova, WF, 6:20; third: Blake
Fraase,South, over Hunter Barth, FD, 8-5; fifth: (tie) Everett Gunther, DL, and Shea Truesdell, Wahp (match limit); seventh: Josh Isassi, GFC, over Mason Egeland, RR, by pin.
126: Championship—Parker Larson, VC, over Alec Humble, GFC, :34; third: Chandler Gunther, DL, over Andrew Naylor, FN, 2:13; fifth: Connor Chloupek, FD, over Kaden Rohloff, RR, 8-2; seventh: Xavier Welty, WF, over Tanner Thiel, Wahp, 3-2
132: Championship—Carlos Balboa, GFC, over Brody Mohr, FD, 4:55; third: James Fisk, DL, over Collin Stremick, FN, 6-0; fifth: Kellan Kliner, FN, over Alex Hettwer, WF, by forfeit; seventh: Gavyn Erickson, RR, over Jack Hanson, RR, 4:06
138: Championship—Noah Wiek, Wahp, over Cole Oen, GFC, 2:18; third: Carson Williams, GFC, over Ndikumenayo Faustin, WF, 4-1; fifth: Lanier Karpeh, WFS, over Micaiah Peterson, RR, 7-0; seventh: Joshua Worral, FN, over Brock Conner, FD, 4:54
145: Championship—Jaden Mairs, FD, over Jonathon Langer, VC, TF 5:22; third: Trey Larimer, RR, over Elvin Fofanah, WF, 9-7; fifth: Parker Vilandre, DL, over Dalton Schlichting, WFS, 3:56; seventh: Evan Bridgeford, GFC, over Wauker Spanel, Wahp, 4:04
152: Championship—Jared Franek, WF, over Alex Skaare, FD, 1:59; third: Casey Frankhauser, Wahp, over David Peterson, VC, by forfeit; fifth: Jackson Gravel, WF, over Colby Rance, DL, 8-0; seventh: Cody Bjornson, DL, over Seth Hanson, RR, 8-0
160: Championship—Cade Pederson, WF, over Logan Erlandson, VC, 2:37; Third: Brandon Thiel, Wahp, over Jaden Haugen, RR, 3-1; fifth: Keenan Morris, FD, over Tyler Pursley, GFC, 2:09; seventh: Luke Knowski, DL, over Julo Seilo, South, 1:59
170: Championship—Aaron Deike, Wahp, over Kolby Johnson, FD, 9-1; third: Jace Estenson, DL, over Joseph Masumbuko, WF, 2-0; fifth: Richard Dralu, FD, over Sage Kvien, VC, 3:00; seventh: Ben Stevens, GFC, over Sean Thompson, South, 2:45
182: Championship—Jesse Shearer, WF, over Gordon Isler, GFC, 3:24; third: Kyle Bjugstad, Wahp, over Jake Tangen, VC, 2:44; fifth: Brody Farmer, WFS, over Alex York, FD, 3-1; seventh: Nathaniel San, FN, over Robert Serumgard, DL, 2:19
195: Championship—Christopher Thiel, Wahp, over George DeMarce, DL, 2:31; third: Inno Nsengyumia, FD, over Eli Gulland, WF, 2:41; fifth: Seth Grott, South, over Jace Posten, GFC, 2:04; seventh: Hunter Stauss, RR, over Cade Powers, VC, 4:47
220: Championship—Brady Terrill, GFC, over Jaden Oestern, VC, 8-2; third: Drew Bajumpaa, Wahp, over Johnson Jones, FD, 5-2; Fifth: Andres Hernandez, GFC, over Josh Krump, Wahp, 4:12; seventh: Jack Scholl, WFS, over Brade Jongeward, FN, 1:16
285: Championship—Brandon Metz, WF, over Andre Baguma, FD, 1:43; third: Nathan Fraase, South, over Grant Sullivan, GFC, 1:39; fifth: Brandon Steinhauer, WF, over Andrew Aamold, North, 1:43; seventh: Travis Howe, GFC, over George Rerick, RR, 3:53