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Entering state with high hopes

Press Photo by Royal McGregor In this 2013 photo, Hettinger-Scranton senior Christian Hughes, right, attempts to escape against a Linton-HMB wrestlers during the Class B team duals on Feb. 14 at the Fargodome.

“Let it buck.”

That’s the motto the Hettinger-Scranton wrestling team.

After winning the Region 4 champion, the Night Hawks are entering the 2014 North Dakota Class B state wrestling tournament today with high expectations.

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“Our goal is to be in the top five,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Randy Burwick said. “It’s no if, ands or buts. If we come out and wrestle, we have a really good shot.”

Hettinger-Scranton closed out the Region 4 Tournament with 14 state qualifiers and three region champions.

The regional champions are seniors Brandon Ehlers at heavyweight, Denby Lueck (182) and eighth-grader Cale Schalesky (113). Lueck is a No. 6 seed, while Ehlers and Schalesky are each No. 7 seeds.

The Night Hawks’ highest seed entering the tournament is Christian Hughes, who finished runner-up at the Region 4 Tournament, in the No. 3 spot.

In the dual tournament, Hettinger-Scranton has meeting with Pembina County North beginning at 11:30 a.m. today at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“They are ready,” Burwick said. “Right now, it’s just to get their minds right, have a great time, enjoy every second of it and don’t hold anything back. We have to give everything we have because there’s no tomorrow. That’s what we are going to do.”

Bowman County and Killdeer also have high hopes going into the state tournament.

The Bulldogs have seven individuals qualified for the state tournament, including junior Troy Steele and freshman Sterling Lee, who won a Region 4 title in their respective weight classes at 152 and 160 pounds.

Steele has a No. 4 seed at 152 pounds and will wrestle Harvey-Wells County senior Casey Muscha in the opening round. Lee is unseeded and faces No. 8-seed Mason Brudevold of Velva at 160 pounds.

“It’s huge,” Bowman County head coach Jeff Boynton said of the first round. “There’s so many matches in the past where the No. 1 or No. 2 seeded kids get knocked off in that first round. If the kids stay focused and believe in their abilities, they wrestle with the best. You never know some of those big matches you end up winning even though you weren’t expected to.”

The Cowboys also have a pair of Region 4 champions — junior Tanner Rohde (132) sophomore Derek Tabor (145).

Rohde is the No. 5 seed and faces Stanley-Powers Lake-Tioga senior Kaden Evenson in the opening round. Tabor is the No. 7 seed and opens the tournament against Oakes junior Austin Kelly.

“If you win that first match, you just have to win one more before you get to be a state placer,” Killdeer head coach Shane Olson said. “That’s going to be key for everybody. If they can pull off an upset in that first round, we have some chances at that.”