Panthers travel for away matches, prepare for state
A trip north to Rolla gave Rugby High School Panther wrestlers an opportunity to sharpen their skills last Saturday ahead of end-season tournaments and state competition.
The Panthers wrestled in the 2020 Northern Lights Invitational held in the Mount Pleasant High School gym.
Coach Craig Zachmeier told the Tribune he had a mixed reaction to the team’s sixth-place finish among eight teams participating in the tournament.
“I’m really happy with some (matches) and really disappointed in others,” Zachmeier said. “We won where we should have. The (wrestlers winning matches) listened. The ones in the finals all listened. We got hit with a couple of injuries again, but it was okay.”
The Northern Lights tourney, described by Zachmeier as a “smaller one,” saw three first-place finishes among varsity wrestlers and two second-place finishes for JV team members.
The first-place finishers all began their climb to the top with wins by fall. As the pressure and challenge level increased, they kept their focus on opportunities for takedowns, giving each their first-place match by decision.
John Jundt earned his first place win in the 126-pound division by taking down Kenmare-Bowbells’ Lynndon Feldner by fall in 1 minute, 49 seconds in the quarterfinals. Jundt advanced to the first-place match after winning by 12-0 major decision over Northern Lights’ Cole Henderson before defeating Pembina County North’s Levi Hinkle by 10-3 decision. Jundt’s finish gave the Panthers 23 team points.
In the 138-pound division, Riley Odden won by fall over Northern Lights’ Landon Otto in 1:15 before defeating Pembina County North’s Jacob Steele by 15-3 major decision. Odden took first place over Kenmare-Bowbells’ Payton Witt by 5-3 decision. Odden earned 17 team points.
Senior Brady Volk wrestled his way to first place in the 170-pound division. After a quarterfinal bye, Volk took down Andrew Christenson of Kenmare-Bowbells by fall in 2:45 in the semifinal round. Volk took first place for his division with a win over Darrion Wilson of Northern Lights by 8-2 decision, giving the Panthers 22 team points.
JV wrestler Isaac Christenson placed second in the 145-B division when he defeated Northwood’s Ahmi Braun by technical fall. Christenson fell to Pembina County North’s Chase Faulkenberry in 21 seconds.
Landon Zietz also placed second in his JV division when he won by fall over 285B division wrestler Nathan Robbins of Des Lacs-Burlington in 1:22. Northern Lights’ Jonathan Leonard took Zietz down by fall in 2:46.
In the 126B division, JV wrestler Bailey Zachmeier placed fourth after falling to Kenmare-Bowbells’ Landon Spear (2:50), Larimore’s James McPherson (2:54) and Pembina County North’s Drew Simpson (1:19).
Varsity wrestler Cole Schneibel placed fourth in the 285-pound division after three grueling matches. Des Lacs-Burlington’s Jordan Robbins won in overtime in the first round with a 4-2 decision. Schneibel lost to Northern Lights’ Caden Lafountain by 10-8 decision before a defeat by injury default to Pembina County North’s Andre LeTexier. Schneibel earned four team points for the Panthers.
Brenden Kleespie earned seven points for the Panthers in the 120-pound division after falling to Pembina County North’s Carson Brown in 2:36 in the quarterfinals. After advancing through the first consolation round with a bye, Kleespie fell to Larimore’s Kolton Moen in 45 seconds. Kleespie came out on top in the fifth-place match, defeating Des Lacs-Burlington’s Kenny Smith by fall in 1:43.
In the 145-pound division, Aden Jensen placed sixth and earned three team points after receiving a bye in the quarterfinals. However, an injury took Jensen out of contention for fifth place after Jensen lost to Des Lacs-Burlington’s Cale Ibach in the semifinals by 5-0 decision and Gavin Houle of Northern Lights in the consolation semifinals by fall in 3:17. Jensen’s medical forfeit gave Larimore’s Eric Hoffman fifth place.
Bryson Amyotte finished the 113-pound division after falling to Larimore’s Colter Thorsell in 4:53. Des Lacs-Burlington’s Reese Peck defeated Amyotte by 6-5 decision in the first consolation round for the division.
Coach Zachmeier said the Panthers would next prepare for the East-West Tourney in New Salem, which began Friday and continues today. “That sets up state,” he said. “So now, we have to get ready for a big one.”
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