Tomac, Vanhoff lead Night HawksThe Hettinger-Scranton-Richardton-Taylor-Hebron wrestling team returned nearly its entire squad from last season.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The Hettinger-Scranton-Richardton-Taylor-Hebron wrestling team returned nearly its entire squad from last season.
The biggest loss was two-time state champion and current Dickinson State freshman Sean Elkins.
Nonetheless, the Night Hawks were never worried. In fact, they returned a pair of leaders both in the practice room and on the wrestling mat.
Two Hettinger-Scranton-RTH seniors, Codi Tomac and Rodney Vanhoff, won their respective weight classes at the Region 4 Tournament on Saturday in Bowman. However, the biggest test of the season for Tomac and Vanhoff begins today at the Class B state dual and individual tournaments at 9 a.m. in the Fargodome.
The Night Hawks begin the dual part of the tournament against No. 2 seed from Region 1 Linton-HMB this morning.
“They are both seniors, so they’ve been through everything,” Hettinger-Scranton-RTH head coach Randy Burwick said. “They did a nice job this year being leaders for us and mentoring the young kids. They did a really good job. I’m just real proud of them. This weekend is big weekend for us.”
Vanhoff has the No. 3 seed at 152 pounds with an overall record of 29-6. Last year, Vanhoff didn’t place at the state tournament and he plans to make sure that doesn’t happen again. He starts against Des Lacs-Burlington eighth-grader Matty Larson this afternoon in the individual tournament.
“I want to make it to the finals,” said Vanhoff, who is from Hebron. “I’ve wrestled hard all year and this is the big payoff. You still get nervous and you can’t look past anybody, even if you beat them during the regular season. Yeah, I wrestled pretty well all season, but this is the only tournament that counts.”
Tomac, who wrestles at 126 pounds, is making his sixth appearance at the state tournament. His highest finish at state is seventh during his sophomore season. Tomac has the No. 7 seed in tournament and faces Tanner Egeberg, a sophomore from Kenmare-Bowbells, in the opening round.
“As an individual, I want to make it to the state semifinals and try my best at the state semifinals,” Tomac said.
As a team, the Night Hawks return eight returning state qualifiers. However, the only returner who placed at last year’s state tournament is 138-pound junior Trevor Abrahamson. He took eighth at 126.
The other five returners are juniors Christian Hughes (145), Denby Lueck (195), sophomores Chauncey Hughes (120), Kevin Sandgren (220) and freshman Colby Steeke (182). The four newcomers are junior Brandon Ehlers (285), freshmen Lucas Ormiston (113), Braxon Yates (132) and eighth-grader Alec Andress (106).
“We look to Codi and Rodney to be leaders for us in the practice room, because we do have some young kids,” Burwick said. “They have to step up and be leaders by example, but they also have to leaders vocally.”
At the Region 4 Tournament, the Night Hawks won the team title with 218.5 points and had four wrestlers place first: Tomac, Vanhoff, Ehlers and Christian Hughes. Not only did Hettinger-Scranton-RTH churn out 12 out of a maximum 14 state qualifiers, it also qualified its team for the Class B duals tournament as the No. 1 seed from Region 4 after winning the regular-season dual title.
“I feel like it was a great experience,” said Tomac, who is from Hettinger. “I like competing at the region tournament. It’s what you have to do to make it to state.”
Burwick is pleased with where the Night Hawks are at going into the tournaments. But he knows they are going to have learn from a couple mistakes made at the region tournament, so they can compete match-in and match-out throughout the individual and dual tournaments to be successful.
“I thought we wrestled a little tight early in the region tournament, but after they got a match under their belt, I thought they wrestled really well,” Burwick said. “I think there was some times where we took ourselves out of matches. We lost three matches where we were winning. I teach my kids to keep going and keep putting the pressure on. We were doing that, but we have to be smart at times too. We have to learn take a little bit off and win those matches.”