Finale for family
Ten state championships. Sixteen top-four finishes at state. A record of 677 wins versus 98 losses. The list goes on and on. North Dakota wrestling has never seen a family so dominant. Dickinson's Mellmer family has more state titles between them...
Ten state championships.
Sixteen top-four finishes at state.
A record of 677 wins versus 98 losses.
The list goes on and on.
North Dakota wrestling has never seen a family so dominant. Dickinson's Mellmer family has more state titles between them than any family in North Dakota history.
Over the past 11 years, Erik, Marc, Jake and Luke have risen to the challenge and triumphed repeatedly. They're achievements plastered all over the walls of the Dickinson High wrestling room.
Thus begins the end of an era as Luke, a senior, will take the big stage one last time in an effort to go out on top, much like all three of his brothers did in years past.
"All of my brothers won it when they were seniors," Luke said. "I don't want to be the one with only one state championship."
Luke will look to put the final touches on the Mellmer era when the Class A state wrestling tournament kicks off today at the Fargodome. The tourney concludes on Saturday with state championship matches.
Former coach Dave Michaelson watched all four Mellmers win state titles.
"They worked hard every time they stepped on the mat," Michaelson said. "You can say that about them all across the board ... all four of them."
The success of the Mellmers has been chronicled numerous times with Erik winning two titles, Marc taking three and Jake owning four, which is the most in school history.
But Luke, who attends Dickinson Trinity, has his own agenda. As a No. 3 seed in last year's state tournament, he won his first title by pinning top seeded and previously unbeaten Sean Ballard of Devils Lake early in the second period.
"It was a big sigh of relief," Luke said. "It was unbelievable."
As a sophomore, however, he missed out on the glory as a late comeback by Mandan's Josiah Simburger denied him what his brothers had already achieved - a state title.
"I felt a lot of pressure," Luke said. "I felt I had to live up to the name."
Michaelson watched from the sidelines as Simburger beat Luke.
"That was a heart-breaking loss for him," Michaelson said. "He had worked so hard and accomplished so much."
Though winning a state title last season put Luke in some good company, he's striving to make this year his own.
Without the pressure of having to make sure he wins a state title, Luke has set out on his own quest.
He has thoroughly dominated the competition in North Dakota en route to a 40-1 record. His lone loss? To still unbeaten and highly-ranked Perham, Minn., wrestler Justin Berns by 5-2 decision at the Moorhead, Minn., duals in mid-January.
"A lot of kids would be satisfied with one title, but to him that's not enough," Michaelson said. "He still feels like he has something to prove."
Through his success, Luke has become as much a teacher as he is a student. Mellmer is a co-captain for the Midgets, and current Dickinson coach Cody Wolf said Luke's experience has paid off in the wrestling room.
"He has more tools in his tool box than a lot of the coaches do," Wolf said. "It's kind of like having another assistant coach in the room. He brings a lot of knowledge and motivation. It's nice to have another guy in the room who can show the younger kids what they're doing wrong."
Luke's aggressive style is true to the Mellmer's form.
He never backs down or allows his opponent an inch of breathing room. His style has helped him to a 165-42 career record, third best in school history behind only Marc (207-7) and Jake (187-26), who is currently a redshirt freshman at the University of Minnesota.
"He doesn't let up," Wolf said. "He's in their face with constant pressure all the time. That's something I'd like to see the younger kids pick up."