One more shot
MINOT – A seesaw season for the Rugby High School wrestling team ends today at the state tournament in Bismarck. Four Panthers achieved their top goals of advancing out of Region III with strong performances at Bishop Ryan High School in Minot on Feb. 8.
The first to punch his ticket was first-time state qualifier and seventh-grader Riley Zachmeier. The 106-pounder was pinned in the first period of his Region III championship match, but it was his remarkable comeback in the semifinal round that ensured his spot at state.
Zachmeier (18-18 overall) was behind Stanley-Powers Lake-Tioga-Ray freshman Trevor Harstad by four points after two periods. In the final 30 seconds of the match, Zachmeier scored a takedown and let Harstad escape to be able to score another takedown. He got the next one and added a three-point nearfall in the closing seconds to pull off a 9-7 win.
“If feels like an accomplishment because a lot of people don’t make it as a seventh-grader,” Zachmeier said. “I saw (Harstad) was getting tired and I knew I was in better condition than him and I knew I could win.”
Zachmeier was caught early in the championship by Velva eighth-grader Aaron Dean, but RHS coach and father Craig Zachmeier expects a more prepared Riley this weekend.
“I’m pretty confident at the state tournament you’re going to see a different Riley,” Craig Zachmeier said. “Riley can beat anybody in the weight class if he has the confidence and believes in himself.”
The younger Zachmeier opened the state tournament unranked against No. 7 Kyle Burwick, a seventh grader from Hettinger with a 38-8 record.
Joining the team’s youngest qualifier are sophomore Spencer Koehmstedt (195) and juniors Reid Mundahl (145) and Bennie Mygland (152).
Koehmstedt wrestled up a weight class for a shot at his first state berth and pinned Velva seventh-grader Kutter Blumhagen in 35 seconds to advance to the semifinals. Koehmstedt (9-11) fell in his next two matches, but the lone win was enough to earn a trip to Bismarck.
“I knew that last year at the state tournament and watching, it just sucked not being down there wrestling,” Koehmstedt said. “I knew coming up this year that I was gonna work a lot harder, so that I was gonna be able to make it this year.”
Koehmstedt said he opened up this season and tried more things.
“He’s the hardest worker in practice, he shows up,” Craig Zachmeier said. “He doesn’t miss practice and he’s finally starting to bloom.”
Koehmstedt’s tournament started against No. 3 Wyatt Schultz, a junior from Hillsboro-Central Valley with a 24-8 record.
Mundahl (25-18) advanced to his fifth consecutive state tournament – a school record. He earned a 8-1 decision over Velva senior Nate Monk to advance to the championship, where he fell to Ryan senior Keaton Merck in 47 seconds.
Unranked Mundahl drew No. 3 Christian Hughes of Hettinger, a senior with a 28-10 record. Craig Zachmeier said Mundahl had Hughes on his back earlier this season before getting pinned.
Mygland (13-10) took a quarterfinal win in overtime over Des Lacs-Burlington junior Jordan Evanoff. Mygland’s takedown in the sudden-death round gave him a 3-1 win. He followed it with a state-qualifying win by pinning New Town sophomore Wesley Snow in 40 seconds.
“I just went out, tried to get it fast and I didn’t want to mess around with him,” Mygland said. “It feels pretty good. I’ve just been working hard.”
Mygland drew Carrington sophomore Billy Holtan, the No. 3 seed with a 33-10 record.
“The state tournament is different,” Craig Zachmeier said. “Whatever place you took up to Thursday morning is irrelevant. That’s how these kids have to look at it. You’re gonna see unseeded wrestlers win state titles. It happens every year.”