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A trio of placers

By Staff | Feb 27, 2009

Rugby finished in the second tier of teams at the recent Class B state wrestling tournament, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of how the Panthers performed.

Three of the eight Rugby wrestlers placed, including a pair of third place finishes, and three more picked up at least one win during the tournament held in Fargo.

Senior Brooks McClintock (275) and freshman Zach Odden (215) both placed third, while sophomore Garrett Thompson (119) finished seventh.

Senior Justin Fjellanger (140), sophomores Wyatt Thompson (125) and Josh Tank (130) each picked up one victory. Junior Michael Steen (135) and sophomore Michael Ostrem (160) competed but did not pick up a win.

For McClintock, his one and only trip to state was memorable.

The unseeded heavyweight posted a 4-1 record, including wins over the No. 3, 4 and 5 seeds en route to a third place finish. He placed higher than any other unseeded wrestler in Class B.

His finish may have been a surprise to many, but not to Rugby’s coaching staff. “We knew Brooks had that potential,” said coach Ken Higbee. “We believed he should have been seeded, but the seeding criteria didn’t work out in our favor. Credit to him to battle and finish where he did.

McClintock won several close decisions, and his only loss, to eventual champion Troy Jesperson of Velva-G-M in the semifinals, was his best effort of the season against the top-seeded Jesperson.

In the third place match, Brooks defeated Cash Biel of Carrington, avenging two earlier losses to Biel this season.

Higbee said McClintock’s path to success this season was an example of what the Panther program is about. “He put in the extra time, running and lifting weights and developing realistic goals,” Higbee said. “He came a long, long way from where he started, and ended among the best in the state.”

Odden also posted a 4-1 mark. The No. 4 seed improved on his seventh place finish a season ago. After winning his first two matches, his only loss came in the semifinals to eventual champion Bob Bartz of Harvey.

“Zach had him in trouble for a while,” Higbee said. “He just couldn’t pull it off (the upset).

Odden decisioned Tyler Meidinger of South Border 6-5 in the third place match.

Thompson, who was runner-up at 103 last year, moved up two weight classes to 119 this season. He posted a 3-1 mark to place seventh.

The sophomore won his opening match before dropping the quarterfinal to Justin Hall of New Town. Garrett won his next two matches, including the seventh place match over Jordan Mann of Beulah-Hazen.

Garrett showed his resiliency by winning his next two matches after the tough loss to Hall. “He has the technique and intensity down; he just needs to bulk up,” Higbee said, “especially at that weight class.”

Sophomore Wyatt Thompson finished 1-2 at 125 pounds. Sophomore Josh Tank also went 1-2 at 130 pounds. It was his first state state tournament. Senior Justin Fjellanger finished 1-2 at 140 pounds. Michael Steen at 130 pounds and Michael Ostrem at 160 went 0-2.

Region 3 had a strong showing at state, and the numbers back it up.

Four region wrestlers won individual titles; two more were runners-up; and nine more placed third, fourth or fifth.

“This is one of the best performances our region has had at state in a long time,” said Higbee.

In the team results, three region teams finished in the top 10. Rolla-Rock Lake-St. John placed fifth; Velva-Garrison-Max was seventh; and New Town 10th. Rugby was 19th.

Despite just one individual state champion and another finishing second, the Tornadoes captured the overall state title as well as the dual tournament. Oakes showed its talent in all weight divisions, placing several wrestlers in the top eight. Carrington finished second overall. Last season’s champion, Lisbon, was third.

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