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Region 4 teams maintain focus

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Hettinger-Scranton senior Denby Lueck, right, tries to pin Linton-HMB’s Ethan Roemmich during the 2013 North Dakota Class B team dual tournament on Feb. 14 at the Fargodome.

The Bowman County, Hettinger-Scranton and Killdeer wrestling teams account for eight of the 14 top-ranked wrestlers in each respective weight class going into Region 4 Tournament.

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However, each team knows one of the most important meets is right on the horizon — the Region 4 Tournament.

“We’ve had a good week of practice and that’s been key right now,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Randy Burwick said. “We came off some nice wins at the end of the season. We came into the regional week and everybody has stayed focused. The big thing we preached this week is making sure your mindset is right.”

The Region 4 Tournament begins at 10 a.m. today in New Salem as the top four wrestlers from each weight class try to punch their ticket to the North Dakota Class B state wrestling tournament that begins Thursday at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“The season is just beginning now, because we have regionals and the state tournament,” Bowman County head coach Jeff Boynton said. “We just have to keep working harder. Now is the time to start to incline rather than decline.”

The Bulldogs’ two wrestlers in the top spots are junior Troy Steele and freshman Sterling Lee at 152 and 160 pounds, respectively.

As a team, Bowman County has nine wrestlers ranked in the top four in each weight class. Boynton is pleased with how the team has competed all season.

“I’m happy with how they performed throughout the season,” he said. “They wrestled very well.”

Hettinger-Scranton has five wrestlers ranked No. 1 in Region 4. The five are a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen. The Night Hawks have a total of 12 ranked wrestlers.

Their seniors ranked in the top spot are Christian Hughes (145), Denby Lueck (182) and Brandon Ehlers (heavyweight), followed by freshman Jacob Schalesky (170) and eighth-grader Cale Schalesky (113).

“Those guys that have been through it for a quite a few years have helped out the younger guys and the inexperienced kids,” Burwick said. “They are trying to keep them focused. Keep them relaxed a little bit and understand that you can’t hold anything back. You have to go out there and give everything you can for six minutes. The older kids have been a really good help this week.”

Killdeer’s fortunes have been less favorable this season as the team has been rattled with the injuries. Freshman Dylan Jepson, who was in the No. 1 spot at 160 pounds, is out with a shoulder injury.

However, Killdeer head coach Shane Olson said the team has persevered through the injuries.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries all season, but we have 10 guys entered into the tournament,” he said. “We are hoping to get at least eight or more to the state tournament.”

The Cowboys have one wrestler ranked No. 1 — junior Tanner Rohde (132) — and a total of nine wrestlers in the top four.

“It all comes down to this last tournament,” Olson said. “You work all season to be a state placer and if you don’t qualify out of the region you can’t achieve those goals. It’s a small tournament, but it’s a pretty important one.”