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Wrestlers Head to State

By Staff | Feb 19, 2016

(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Zachmeier Photography) (Back row, from the left) Rugby wrestlers Joey Berg, Riley Zachmeier, Spencer Koehmstedt (front row), Kaden Jaeger and Dylan Grove are competing at the state tournament in Fargo

Ten Rugby wrestlers competed in the Region 3 wrestling tournament in front of a packed gym and a strong Rugby crowd last week, hosted by the Velva Aggies. The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualified for the 2016 ND State Class B Wrestling Tournament, which began and concludes today at the Fargo Dome.

Five Rugby wrestlers earned places at state senior Spencer Koehmstedt (220 pounds), sophomore Kayden Jaeger (138), sophomore Joey Berg (126), freshman Dylan Grove (132) and freshmen Riley Zachmeier (106).

Zachmeier defended his 106-pound Region Championship from 2015 by defeating Bishop Ryan junior Connor Ledoux for the fifth straight time this season by a score of 4-0 and qualifying for the state tournament for the third straight year. Leading to the finals, Zachmeier defeated Lizzie Massine, from Velva by fall, in 14 seconds, and Ethan Wonzer, from Williams County, by fall in 42 seconds.

“Riley is gaining confidence and is maturing with each match, stated Coach Craig Zachmeier. “He is extremely hard to score on, and has been dominate against other 106 pounders across the state since the middle of January. He is peaking at the right time. All the work over the summer and fall cross country season is paying off.”

Rugby’s second regional finalist was Jaeger at 138. Jaeger defeated Payton Witt, from Kenmare, by pin in 32 seconds, advancing Jaeger into the finals and his second state tournament trip. Jaeger was defeated in the finals by Elijah Hackman of Velva by a score of 8-4.

“Kaden wrestled better than we anticipated,” noted Coach Zachmeier. “Kaden has been suffering some illnesses, but still competed to the regional finals. Kaden, if healthy, is one of the top wrestlers in the state at 138.”

At 132, Grove opened the day with a pin over Bishop Ryan’s Murphy Lipp in 5:12 before dropping a match in the semifinals to Des-Lacs Burlington’s Colton Bartuska by fall. Grove came back to win two consecutive matches to finish the day in third place. Grove defeated Trent Anderson from Stanley by pin in 2:28 to earn his first trip to the state tournament, followed by a pin in 1:26 over Laythan Stroklund from Kenmare-Bowbells in the 3rd place match.

“Dylan is finally starting to believe in himself and trust his talent,” Zachmeier said. “He has not been consistent all year, but he has been at the right time, the past two weeks! Dylan was dominating in his wins and has really picked up the pace in practice since mid-January and it showed last weekend.”

At 126, Walter Winkler from Des-Lacs Burlington avenged an earlier loss suffered at the hands of Berg by defeating him 4-1 in the opening round. Last week at regional duels, Berg defeated Winkler by a score of 7-5. Berg rebounded from the loss, defeating senior Mason Merck from Bishop Ryan 6-4, earning Berg his second trip to the state tournament. Berg then revenged the earlier loss in the day by defeating Winkler 7-5 in the 3rd place match.

“Joey was slow his first match, but Joey is coachable,” commented Coach Zachmeier. “Joey wanted to qualify, so he went out and got the job done!”

Berg agreed, stating, “My overall season could have started out better and I would have preferred placing higher at regionals.

“We made some adjustments to his offense and he qualified by defeating Merck who pinned him in the Rugby Tournament in January,” added Zachmeier. “Joey is also wrestling tough at the right time of the season. Joey is a nightmare to his opponents to wrestle because of his length. It seems he always has his opponents arms and legs wrapped up.””

Koehmstedt put on a show to place third at 220 and earn his third consecutive trip to the state tournament. Koehmstedt opened the day with a fall in 1:53 over Bishop Ryan’s Skyler White. Koehmstedt then dropped a heart-breaker to Jaryn Rasmussen from Williams county in overtime 4-3 in the semi-finals.

“Spencer lost by fall to Rasmussen in Rugby in January now in Regionals Spencer got a questionable call from the ref to send the match into overtime, where, in the end, Spencer lost,” said Coach Zachmeier. “The good part is, Spencer went from getting pinned one month ago by him, to losing on a poor call, which is improvement, hopefully we meet up with him at State for a re-match.” Koehmstedt came back to defeat Kutter Blumhagen from Velva 9-0 before pinning Northern Light’s Max Defender in 2:02.

“Spencer lost an overtime match to Defender in New Salem January 30, now he came back to pin him,” commented Coach Zachmeier. “It appears Spencer is on the right track going into state.”

Other Rugby Wrestlers competing included at 113 freshman Wyatt Schmaltz 5th place; at 120 8th grader Brady Volk DNP; at 152 freshman Collin Kraft 5th place; at 160 7th grader Cole Schneibel 6th place; and at 182 DJ Schneibel 6th place.

Coach Zachmeier said “It was heartbreaking to see these young men not qualify knowing the hard work they put in, but they are young and hopefully use this as motivation and a learning experience for the future. They competed hard and represented Rugby well.”

“I thought we’ve had a pretty good season, considering the number of young kids that came out this year,” said Koehmstedt. As the only senior Koehmstedt stated, “it made me step it up and become a leader. I’m excited for state. I went the past two years, but this is it!”

The State tournament brackets are drawn. Rugby’s highest-seeded wrestler is Riley Zachmeier (106) with the fourth seed in the state tournament. Zachmeier will face Carrington’s Tate Hogarth in the opening round.

Coach Zachmeier stated “In my opinion, Riley is under seeded. He has five losses this season, and has revenged three. He has not had the opportunity against the other two wrestlers, but will get that opportunity this weekend. He is on a 17 match win streak and has beaten the wrestlers on his side of the bracket. He is the only wrestler in the state to beat Oaks Coy Awender the #1 seed. It should be and exciting and stress filled weekend.”

Jaeger (138), the other seeded wrestler, received the seventh seed and will face Harvey Wells County’s Elliot Dockter in his opening match. Coach Zachmeier stated “Kaden is also under seeded. He has split wins and losses with the #5 seed Elijah Hackman from Velva. If Kaden is healthy, he should finish at or above his seed.”

Berg will wrestle Alex Alfson, the number six seed from Hillsboro-Central Valley. Grove (132) will wrestle the number five seed, Wyatt Nagel form Linton-HMB. Koehmstedt (220) will wrestle the number six seed, Carrington’s Jacob Copenhaver.

“Though these wrestlers are un-seeded, they have been improving faster than their opponents,” stated Coach Zachmeier. “We (the coaching staff) have been stressing the importance of the state tournament and that anything is possible, and to wrestle the person, not the seed. Anyone can be beat!”

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