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Upmost confidence: Dickinson High enters seasons with high hopes, bigger expectations

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson junior Austin Hutzenbiler tries for a pin during the North Dakota Class A state wrestling tournament on Feb. 14 at the Fargodome.1 / 2
Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson senior Devin Berger slips out of a hold during the North Dakota state wrestling tournament on Feb. 14 at the Fargodome.2 / 2

Make no mistake, the Dickinson High wrestling team was eager to get back on the mat.

Especially coming off a successful 2013 campaign which featured multiple West Region champions, a fourth-place finish as a team at the state tournament and six returning state placers.

The Midgets started the season off with a bang, winning their opening West Region dual against Mandan 43-20 on Tuesday. Dickinson’s first-year head coach Adam Orton said there were a little nerves going into the first dual.

“I was quite nervous going into the dual,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t know how our lineup would meet against theirs and I was definitely happy with the way they wrestled. It boosted my confidence and boosted their confidence. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

Orton served as an assistant last year under Pete Dobitz and Cody Wolf. The roles have been flipped this season as Dobitz and Wolf are assistants under Orton. The Midgets have now had a different head coach in the last three years. Bruce Heppner coached the team in the 2011-12 season.

“I was excited, because we have six returning state placers and they are a good group of kids,” Orton said. “They all like to work hard and they are a good bunch.”

Though Dickinson opened its season with a win, Devin Berger said the team can’t get too high or too low too early. The senior finished third at 126 pounds at last season’s state tournament.

“We don’t want to be too confident that we are cocky thinking that we are unstoppable, but we want to confidence where we think we can beat anyone on any given night,” Berger said.

The five other returning state placers are senior Michael Cherwinski (eighth at 182), juniors Austin Hutzenbiler (fourth at 113), Clayton Tangen (sixth at 145), Dillon Clark (eighth at 156) and sophomore Jaret Lee (fifth at 106).

Hutzenbiler and Lee both lost in the state semifinal matches last season as Lee lost to eventual state champion Marlo Bell of Fargo South, while Hutzenbiler lost to state runner-up Rodell Johnson of Grand Forks Red River.

“It’s great and we have a ton of returning state placers, which is big,” Hutzenbiler said. “I have big high expectations for this season.”

Lee added: “We know what to expect and we know how to prepare.”

Though the Midgets have a roster predominantly of underclassmen, Berger said those juniors, sophomores and freshmen can hold their own.

Dickinson returns to the mat when it travels to Minot for a West Region dual at 5:30 p.m. today.

“We have a young but experienced team,” Berger said. “I feel like the way we wrestled (on Tuesday) is that we are going to be able to do some damage this year.

“Everyone pretty much has returned this year, so we should be solid all the way through.”