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Bruised by the grind, Panther wrestlers prepare for regionals

By Staff | Feb 7, 2020

Panther wrestlers regroup and practice upstairs in the Rugby High School gym. Sue Sitter/PCT

A grueling East-West tournament in New Salem left Rugby Panther wrestlers exhausted last weekend, when two of seven team members placed in final matches and others battled injuries instead of opponents.

“I think the grind is getting to them,” Panther coach Craig Zachmeier acknowledged. “They didn’t have a good tournament. We saw some good stuff, but losing one-point matches isn’t acceptable.”

The Panthers took to the mat upstairs in the Rugby High gym this week for practice. “We’re prepping for regionals now,” Zachmeier said.

Zachmeier said only a few Panthers would participate in the first regional event, a dual in Kenmare taking place today.

“We don’t have a team to compete at duals. Bryson (Amyotte) is hurt at 113; Cole (Schneibel) is the heavyweight; Aiden (Jensen) is on his first day back after being hurt all week, so we’re not going to have much of a team in Kenmare to compete. We’re prepping now for regionals in Tioga,” Zachmeier added.

“The important match is Tioga,” Zachmeier said of next Saturday’s tournament. “All schools from this region are there and the top four kids go to state, so that’s the fun one.”

Zachmeier said the Panthers’ practices would focus on the mental aspect of wrestling.

“Mental (aspects) are going to be the big one,” Zachmeier said. “Techniques are pretty good. We’ll individually coach to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t work and get better at the stuff that does.”

Panther Brenden Kleespie earned three team points for the 120-pound division at the East-West tournament after falling to Northern Lights’ Jakob Hudson in 1:32. Kleespie took Hillsboro-Central Valley’s Carter Iverson down by fall in 4:05 for the first consolation round before falling in the second consolation round to Lisbon’s Levi Sveum in 36 seconds.

John Jundt scored 5.5 team points in the 126-pound division. Jundt lost to Bowman County’s Tucker Strand by technical fall (21 to Strand’s 25 points). Jundt next won by tech fall over Killdeer’s Birch Bang in 4:01. Jundt took Bishop Ryan’s Gannon Ledoux down to a fall in 4:16 before falling to New Salem-Almont’s Riley Doll in the second consolation round at 1:20.

In the 132-pound division, Bailey Zachmeier fell to Carrington’s Brecken Lura in 1:40 and Bowman County’s Keiren Coyle in 1:21.

In the 138-pound division, Riley Odden scored 10 team points when he won by fall over Velva’s Mason Smith in 3:12. New Salem-Almont’s Ethan Hammons defeated Odden in the quarterfinals by a 19-8 major decision. Odden won by an 11-3 major decision over Williams County’s Hugo Garcia in the second consolation round, but Hettinger-Scranton’s Ezra Weichmann defeated Odden in the third consolation round by a 10-3 decision. Odden took seventh place over Stanley’s Keyton Meiers, who fell in 4:02.

Isaac Christenson fell to Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm’s Anton Carruth in 1:35 and Bowman County’s Caydon Wolbaum in 3:52 in the 145-pound division.

In the 160-pound division, Brady Volk earned eight team points after defeating Northern Lights’ Isaac Herbel by 12-4 major decision in the first round. Velva’s Michael Thomas won by 3-2 decision over Volk in the next round. Volk took Oakes’ Ryan Hermes down in a 3:44 fall in the second consolation round, but lost by a close 11-12 decision to Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm’s Wyatt Moch. Volk took seventh place in the division after defeating LaMoure’s Brady Lettenmaier by 7-4 decision.

Landon Zietz fell to New Salem-Almont’s Adam Morman in 1:39 and Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central’s Zane Miller in 14 seconds in the 220-pound division.

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