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Walking outside in the second week in February, it's a little discouraging not to see a handful of snow on the ground. Call it blasphemy, but I might be one of those people that wait for Jack Frost to show. I grew up eight hours southeast of Dickinson in Watertown, S.D. I can't remember it being this nice outside this late in winter. I expected there to be inches, if not feet, of snow on the ground. The lack of snow has stretched throughout the Midwest.
The West Region tournament is just another tournament for the Dickinson High wrestling team, except this one contains the greatest prize -- tickets to the Class A state tournament. The Midgets have been through many tournaments this season and head coach Bruce Heppner said his team is going in with the mindset of getting everyone qualified for state when the tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in Jamestown. "The nice thing is we are going with a full lineup," Heppner said.
The idea of a super-regional has been planned and approved by the North Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors for Region 7. And it's only the beginning. More than two months ago, Region 7's two activities chairs submitted a proposal aimed at doing away with tournaments in basketball and volleyball for District 13 and 14 since they only served to eliminate two teams in each district before the region tournament. "Right now, we are just kind of informing the different Region 7 schools that are involved," Beulah activities director Mitch Lunde said.
Dickinson High's reservation at the heartbreak hotel is lasting a little longer than expected. The Minot High boys basketball team shot 53 percent from 3-point range to defeat Dickinson 74-66 in a West Region game on Thursday at DHS gymnasium. "I feel sorry for them, they deserve to win some of these games," Dickinson head coach John Wilson said. "I'm very proud to be there coach and I'm very proud that they haven't given up." The heartache has occurred in four of the last six games.
The Dickinson High wrestling team was coming off a tough loss on Thursday, but this time they didn't leave anything up to chance. The Midgets won six of the first eight matches en route to a 43-31 win over Jamestown in a West Region dual on Friday at Dickinson High School gymnasium. "They came out on fire and wrestled tough," Dickinson head coach Bruce Heppner said. "That's the type of guys they are and they wrestled well." The final home dual of the season marked strong wins for all three seniors on the team.
The Dickinson High boys hockey team wanted a strong showing in its final home game. But, the Midgets just ran out of gas at the end. The Midgets only had 11 players at their disposal and Bismarck High's full lineup prevailed in a 5-1 West Region win on Thursday at the Dickinson Recreation Center. "Before the game, I'm talking to (Bismarck High head coach) Mike (Peluso) and setting up his four lines," Dickinson head coach Tom Folske said. "I've got a line and half and two defenders." To compensate for the lack of available players, Dickinson used parent's night as motivation.
The Bismarck girls hockey team quickly gained an early lead and continued to add to it. The Blizzard scored six goals in the first period en route to a 16-0 win over Dickinson on Thursday at the Dickinson Recreation Center. "I think it was just a hard game from the get-go," Dickinson head coach Lauren Hansen said. "I'm not really sure if we started off on the best foot. We tried to regain our composure, but it was a little tough." The loss was especially tough for the Midgets because it was senior night.
Mother Nature has been awfully kind to the western side of North Dakota this winter. The weather has had a negative impact on hunting populations for the past three winters, but due to mild conditions it could be changing. "After three consecutive harsh winters out west, this is what the doctor ordered," said Brett Wiedmann, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department big game biologist in Dickinson.
Twin brothers playing together on the same hockey team isn't common, though it seems to works out well for Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. The Dickinson High boys hockey team has its own twin connection in seniors Michael and Matt Porter. The Porters have helped show the Midgets what it takes to excel, though it might not always be in the form of a win. "They're both good leaders in the locker room and on the ice sheet," Dickinson High head coach Tom Folske said.
The decision made by two athletes from the area takes them on different walks of life, both ending up on football field. Killdeer's Grady Houghton and Mott-Regent's Tanner Vesledahl each signed their national letters intent on Wednesday to play college football next fall. Houghton, who tore the ACL in his knee during his senior football season, has committed to play linebacker for the University of Mary. Vesledahl accepted a preferred walk-on offer from the University of North Dakota. "The recruiting staff is really good and I like how they run things over there," Houghton said.