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2 Midgets reach state semifinals

FNS Photo by Kevin Cederstrom Dickinson’s Clayton Tangen and West Fargo’s Jesse Shearer lock up during their Class A state wrestling dual tournament match at the Bismarck Civic Center. West Fargo advanced to today’s semifinals, defeating Dickinson 63-9.1 / 2
FNS Photo by Kevin Cederstrom Dickinson’s Austin Hutzenbiler scores against West Fargo’s Jacob Franek during a 4-0 decision at 120 pounds in the first round of dual competition at the North Dakota Class A state wrestling tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center. West Fargo advanced to Friday's semifinals by defeating Dickinson 63-9.2 / 2

BISMARCK — The start of the North Dakota Class A state wrestling tournament was less than favorable for the Dickinson High wrestling team.

West Fargo handled the Midgets 63-9 in the opening round of the Class A team dual tournament.

However, over the the opening two rounds of the individual tournament, the Midgets quickly forgot about the dual loss as seven wrestlers went on to make the quarterfinals and two — senior Devin Berger and junior Austin Hutzenbiler — continued on to today’s semifinals.

“Coming into the dual, we knew we were going up against a good team,” said Hutzenbiler, who wrestles at 120 pounds. “We had a lot of kids that came out tough against some good kids. Coming into the individual side of the tournament, nobody left the loss hanging in their head.”

The Midgets’ two wins against West Fargo came in the opening matches.

Freshman Caden Haugen pinned Justin Harms in 1 minute, 15 seconds the first match and Hutzenbiler followed with a 4-0 decision over Jacob Franek. The Packers went on to win the next 12 matches.

Dickinson went into the individual part of the state tournament and sent nearly half of its wrestlers to the quarterfinals.

However, in the quarterfinals matches, the Midgets experienced their second dose of tough luck. Haugen and junior Jaret Lee (120) both lost in overtime. Grand Forks Central’s Tyler Keener defeated Haugen 5-3 by sudden victory, while Bismarck Century’s Clay Roberts won in an ultimate tiebreaker over Lee, 4-3.

“Those are definitely heartbreakers,” Dickinson co-head coach Adam Orton said. “They put up a heck of fight, but since they didn’t get the W, I know that it is going to refuel them for (today).”

Reaching the semifinals was a goal Berger held for an entire year.

After losing to Bismarck High’s Logan Boese in the quarterfinals 4-3 last season, Berger didn’t let this opportunity slip through his fingers as he took a 4-0 decision over Wahpeton’s Jacob Berg in the quarterfinals Thursday.

Berger, who wrestles at 126 pounds, witnessed Haugen and Lee lose in the quarterfinals. He said it was tough to see but he had to make sure he was mentally focused entering his match with Berg.

“You always want your teammates to win,” Berger said. “It was kind of heartbreaking, but I had to come out there and not worry about what happened in the match before. I had to do my own thing.”

The 13 Dickinson wrestlers who didn’t make reach the semifinals are still alive in the tournament and are ready to make up ground and pick up team points in the wrestlebacks beginning at 9 a.m. today.

“None of them are out yet,” Orton said. “It’s not over for any of them. Whether they feel that they wrestled well or if they could have made some chances, they can just pick it up (today).”