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Wrestling postseason preparations start this week for Packers

With the departure of January, writing 2012 at the end of dates finally seems to stick.

And considering our world is apparently supposed to end before 2013 (if you believe that whole Mayan calendar thing), it's too bad time is moving so quickly.

With a month down already, and even though February has an extra day tacked on this year, it's doubtful the next 11 months will be any slower than the first. That said, the winter sports season is flying right along with everything else.

In fact, this week already marks the beginning of the postseason.

West Fargo wrestling officially kicks off tournament time with their Eastern Dakota Conference meet Saturday in Devils Lake. The Packers finished the regular season hoisting the East Region Dual Champion crown after a pair of dual wins last week gave them a perfect 18-0 overall record.

Now they will attempt to pick up a third consecutive East Region title; a high likelihood given their unquestionable success this winter. That, and West Fargo has beaten every conference opponent at least once, the closest score coming in a 41-29 season-opening win over Valley City.

Even though the fourth and final coaches' poll comes out tomorrow, it would be doubtful that the Packers were to be ousted from their No. 1 spot in state Class A. In the last poll Jan. 9, the Packers garnered 177 votes for first place, beating out No. 2 Bismarck by 12. Since then, the two teams have met head-to-head once, with the win coming in a landslide to West Fargo.

What will be interesting, however, is to see how individual rankings change. Up until now, the Packers have had several wrestlers ranked in the Top 6 through most of the season.

In fact, Jordan Shearer at 113 pounds, Trevor Kringlie at 120, Anjelo Shepherd at 138, and Preston Lehmann at 182 all have held No. 1 rankings in their respective weight classes for the entire season. Other ranked West Fargo wrestlers include Jesse Shearer (sixth at 106 pounds), Kolin Kragnes (second at 126), Weston Dobler (fourth at 132), Christian Ramberg (fifth at 132), Shelby Schulz (fifth at 160), Miles Scholl (fourth at 170), and Drew Johnson (third at 195).

All these wrestlers, as well as many other Packers, got a bit of momentum from their wins last week as they move forward to the postseason.

In Thursday's matchup, the Packers routed Fargo North 68-4. West Fargo's only loss came when Jesse Shearer fell 10-0 to Tommy Walton, the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 106 pounds.

On Friday, West Fargo took down Wahpeton in another landslide, 56-3. Again, the Packers only lost in one weight class, when former West Fargo wrestler Michael Lehmann defeated Tanner Kuznia by a 16-11 decision at 152 pounds.

Following the East Region meet, the Packers will be geared up for the State Tournament, which received a change of venue this year.

The NDHSAA sponsored State Wrestling Tournament will be held at the Bismarck Civic Center, 315 S. Fifth Street, on Feb. 16-18. Jim Haussler, Athletic Director for Bismarck Public Schools, will be the tournament manager.

The tournament will begin on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 8:30 a.m. with weigh-ins and doors opening to the public at 9 a.m. Action begins at 10 a.m., with A Duals and B Individual competition. Evening competition begins at 6 p.m. with the Parade of Athletes.

On Friday, Feb. 17, competition begins at 10 a.m. with consolation round matches. Both Class A and Class B individual semi-finals and team dual championship wrestling will begin at 5 p.m.

Third- and fourth-round consolation competitions begin Saturday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. At 2:15 p.m. inductees will be recognized, and at 3 p.m. individual introductions and championships begin.

Tickets are on sale at the Bismarck Civic Center, or may be purchased online through Ticketmaster, in person at any Ticketmaster outlet, or at the Bismarck Civic Center Box Office. For ticket information, visit, or call 701-355-1384.

Tournament information can be found under "Publications" at in the NDHSAA January and February Bulletins.