Zachmeier ends high school career with a state title
FARGO – Riley Zachmeier said it best Saturday at the Fargodome after defeating Carrington’s Lucas Geiszler, 10-1, to claim the 138-pound Class B state title.
“You don’t know how good first is unless you take second,” Zachmeier said.
Few wrestlers can say that and mean it as much as Zachmeier. The Rugby senior has had more than his fair share of road blocks on the path to his championship, suffering two state title match losses over the past three seasons.
“(The losses) definitely motivated me,” Zachmeier said. “I waited four years for this moment. But I finally got here, and it’s just awesome.”
The first championship loss came in 2016, when the then-freshman made an epic run to the 106-pound title match as the No. 4 seed and took on No. 2-seeded Tayt Wolding from New Salem-Almont. That’s where Zachmeier’s unlikely run came to an end, as Wolding outlasted him for the 6-2 victory.
Zachmeier seemed poised for another run in his sophomore season, entering the 113-pound bracket as the No. 3 seed.
But this time it was Zachmeier who found himself on the wrong end of an upset when No. 6-seeded Mason Defoe from Hettinger-Scranton defeated the sophomore, 4-2, in the quarterfinals. Defoe then beat him a second time in the consolation bracket, forcing Zachmeier to settle for sixth place.
The second championship loss came last season in the 126-pound bracket when No. 3-seeded Zachmeier fell by a score of 6-1 to Hettinger-Scranton’s Kyle Burwick, the No. 1 seed.
This year, Zachmeier was determined to get a different result. After posting a dominant 46-2 record in the regular season and earning the No. 1 seed in the 138-pound bracket, the senior cruised past his first three rounds to meet Geiszler in the championship match.
Having faced the Carrington wrestler three times in the past, Zachmeier knew the key to a victory would be his endurance.
“(Geiszler) is always looking for a big move or a match ender,” Zachmeier said. “He can’t really go six minutes, and I know I have the conditioning to go six minutes. I knew if I just stayed calm and composed I would be able to win.”
Zachmeier stuck to that game plan and gradually built his lead. The senior gained the edge in the first 15 seconds by throwing Geiszler on his back for a two-point takedown.
Now up 4-1, Zachmeier ended the second period strong with another takedown in the final minute to give himself a 6-1 edge entering the third period.
Just two minutes away from a state title, Zachmeier went for the kill. The senior spun Geiszler around and got a three-point near fall with 1:15 remaining. Although he didn’t get the pin, the 10-1 lead held true.
The final whistle sounded. Zachmeier rushed to the corner of the mat to hug his father, Rugby head coach Craig Zachmeier, as the crowd erupted.
“It’s overwhelming,” Craig said. “(Riley) put a lot of time in. He put a lot of miles – thousands of miles – on for that, but it finally paid off.”
After three years of watching the competition stand atop the podium, Zachmeier fittingly ended his high school career as the undisputed state champion.
“That’s what it’s all about, ending on a win,” Zachmeier said. “It feels awesome.”
Martinez is a staff writer for the Minot Daily News. This article previously appeared in MDN’s Sunday, Feb. 17 edition.
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