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Wrestlers take conference crown

West Fargo's Anjelo Shepherd, right, grabs an arm of Austin Schall of Devils Lake during the N.D. Class A East Region wrestling tournament Saturday, Feb. 8, at Fargo Davies High School. Shepherd won the match. Dave Wallis

For the fifth year in a row, the Packer wrestling team claimed the Eastern Dakota Conference championship, and will enter this weekend’s state tournament with the No. 1 seed.

The Packers had six first-place finishes, coming from Jared Franek, Reed Cronin, Jordan Shearer, Christian Ramberg, Anjelo Shepherd and Weston Dobler.

The team also earned six second-place finishes from Jesse Shearer, Kollin Kragnes, Kyle Kragnes, Tanner Kuznia, Alby Rodriguez and Brandon Metz.

“I think we wrestled really well getting 12 guys into the finals,” head coach Kayle Dangerud said. “We went 6-6 in championship matches, however we felt we could win all 12, to be honest. It gives our guys more motivation for this week. The main lesson we learned this weekend is that we need to prepare better mentally.”

Two Packers are now looking to defend their individual championships from last year.

The 160-pound Dobler took home his first state title last season in the 145-pound weight class. This year, however, he has to go through Bismarck’s three-time champ Ryan Blees to earn the title.

The 132-pound Shearer will be battling for his fifth state championship, a feat reached by just three wrestlers in North Dakota history.

After missing the mark last season, three-time state champ Anjelo Shepherd will look to earn his fourth this season in the 145-pound class. He enters the state tournament as a No. 2 seed.

The North Dakota High School state wrestling tournament begins tomorrow at the Bismarck Civic Center. Franek, Shearer and Kollin Kragnes enter the tournament as No. 1 seeds.

“If we stay disciplined mentally and physically, we can accomplish anything,” Dangerud said. “While I believe we deserve to win, we have to earn it. Our guys understand the difference between the two. We are ready and I look forward to seeing our guys compete at state.”