Panther wrestlers look to erase title drought
Rugby High School’s wrestling team has been without a state champion since 2001.
The team is looking to a handful of returners, including two state placers in Riley Zachmeier and Kaden Jaeger to change that.
“It’s up to them now to break that culture,” said Panthers head coach Craig Zachmeier.
Losing a leadership role in Spencer Koehmstedt due to graduation, the team will concentrate on the leadership of Jaeger and fellow junior and state qualifier Joey Berg for a squad of 13. The 13 include a strong group of sophomores, including Riley Zachmeier (state runner-up last year), Wyatt Schmaltz, Landen Rost and D.J. Schneibel-who Coach Zachmeier said had a tough matchup at the regional tournament last year that prevented him from going to state.
“Look for [Schneibel] to come back with a vengeance,” Coach Zachmeier said.
Others joining and returning to the fold this year include Nathaniel Johnson, Cole Schneibel, Brady Volk, Riley Odden and Aiden Jensen.
The team lost a state qualifier this year due to a prior injury. Dylan Grove sustained a shoulder injury during football season and is out for the season.
“Losing him hurts bad,” Coach Zachmeier said of Grove.
Coach Zachmeier said the schedule this year is solid in terms of competition.
“One thing we try to do over the years is pick up new tournaments, better tournaments and better competition,” Zachmeier said. “We should start seeing that now.”
The team has its first official meet in the first week of December, with a two-day tournament in Velva.
“That’s where we see where we’ll stand,” Zachmeier said.
The team will also expect to see tough competition in meets in Linton, Central Cass and New Salem.
Zachmeier said a meet scheduled in Rugby in January will be “as tough as the the state tournament. In addition to teams like Central Cass and New Salem-Almont, projected Class A front-runner Bismarck Century is expected to compete on the mats as well.