DSU collects buckles: Blue Hawks send 6 to championship as 2 win in Tyler Plummer Classic
Despite a long, grueling day of wrestling, the Dickinson State wrestling team has no qualms about being tired.
Junior Tyler Brown and senior Jesse Hellinger were crowned champions at 174 and 197 pounds, respectively, on Saturday at Scott Gymnasium.
DSU had four other wrestlers make it to the finals; freshmen Seth Ehlang (141) and Lane Overson (184), sophomore Sean Elkins (157) and junior Manny Reyes (149).
“Getting that many guys in the placing rounds is a pretty good day for where we’re at right now,” DSU head coach Thadd O’Donnell said.
Brown wrestled University of Great Falls’ Brock Picard and his victory came down to the final seconds of the match. In the first period, Brown held down Picard for back-to-back near falls for a 4-0 lead. With 14 seconds left in the third period, Brown allowed Picard to score a takedown and threatened his win.
On the edge of the mat with barely any time left, Brown was able to pull off the reversal for the 6-5 lead he needed to clinch the win.
“Those last 15 seconds, I had to do what I had to do to win. I pulled it out of my rear end to be honest,” Brown said, laughing. “But I kept wrestling, like coach always says and it worked out for the best. I was pretty pumped about getting that belt buckle.”
Hellinger had no struggles earning his belt buckle, beating Montana State-Northern’s Garrett DeMers in a 13-0 major decision. Hellinger was thrilled to get the win for the team, but also for a little revenge.
“It was nice to beat that guy,” Hellinger said. “He beat me last year and I think he’s ranked in the nation, so it’s kind of nice to get that win, especially a handily win as well.
“It feels great, to be able to perform in front of the home crowd. It’s awesome, just show everybody we work hard all season, off season and to be able to do it in front of everybody is nice.”
DSU finished in second place with 141 points, with University of Great Falls taking the top spot with 154.5. The Argos had finalists in eight of the 10 weight classes, five of which took home the belt buckle.
The Argos haven’t been able to string together back-to-back wins until this weekend. Great Falls defeated DSU in a dual 34-12 Friday night.
“Dickinson was kind of worn out and we got them when they weren’t feeling so good and it was a good stepping stone for us,” Great Falls head coach Caleb Schaeffer said. “We don’t get rolling really well, it’s kind of hit and miss and we put two good days together and that was good.”
The wrestling-packed weekend was a good measuring stick to see how far along DSU has come. But the six wrestlers who made it to the finals Saturday, two of which were freshmen, showed the progression and determination the team overall has to get better.
A prime example is Ehlang wrestling Great Falls’ Kyle Wilson twice in less than 24 hours. Friday night Wilson beat Ehlang in a 15-5 major decision, but Ehlang kept it close Saturday and fell again 8-6.
O’Donnell said he has a ways to go and years of bad habits to break, but Ehlang made adjustments in his mental game and aggressiveness which helped him get closer to a win.
“We did a free leg over, a move we talked about, last night in the dual he didn’t do it and today he did it in a match and it got him a win and then I looked at him and he smiled,” O’Donnell said. “So you know things are starting to click.”
Saturday was also a big step in the right direction for Brown. He’s currently 7-10 with a rough start to the season. Brown dabbled in switching from 174 to 165 weight class to no avail, but has been putting in the effort and seeing a turnaround in his season.
“Overall this season has been a challenge for me, I’ve definitely had my slumps but I placed at the last three tournaments counting this one so I think I’m slowly but surely getting better,” Brown said.”
The Blue Hawks host University of Jamestown at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Jimmies competed in the tournament and faced some DSU wrestlers so the competition will be familiar and nothing short of fierce.
“We’re going to keep working on wrestling through the whole match,” Brown said. “We got a lot of guys who give up in the last 10 seconds of the round and we’re giving up points there when we shouldn’t be.
“We’re in phenomenal shape and there’s no reason to stop wrestling for 10 seconds. A match is seven minutes of your time, you can do it.”