Dickinson High Midgets wrestling program hopes to build on top-notch season

Dickinson High's wrestling team placed fourth in the state tournament last season, and with its new season set to start today, the Midgets seem primed to build on that strong showing.Dickinson High has nine wrestlers with state tournament experie...

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Jaret Lee, top, works for points in Dickinson High’s dual Jan. 30 against Minot at DHS gymnasium. The senior was a state runner-up at 152 pounds a season ago. (Press File Photo)

Dickinson High’s wrestling team placed fourth in the state tournament last season, and with its new season set to start today, the Midgets seem primed to build on that strong showing.
Dickinson High has nine wrestlers with state tournament experience over the last two seasons, a valuable tool as the team gets set to host Bismarck St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. today at DHS gymnasium.
“With the kids I have coming back, any time you can get that high pressure experience,” head coach Pete Dobitz said, “it’s something you can put in your pocket and use at a later date when things get tough.”
Among those with tournament appearances are senior Jaret Lee, a state runner-up at 152 points last season; junior heavyweight Dual Keck, who placed third at state; senior 170-pounder Rafael Lopez, also a runner-up last year; and junior Tom Irwin, who placed sixth at 145 pounds.
Dobitz said he has a solid mix of veteran wrestlers working with a handful of freshmen to help sustain Dickinson’s success for the coming years.
“The nice thing is that we have all that experience, but we also have around 10-12 freshmen on the team too so we have a good run of young kids who want to keep it rolling,” Dobitz said. “We got real good leadership in the room with Jaret Lee and Tom Irwin as captains. They’re demanding, not in a real vocal way, but in how people approach practice. The philosophy is making sure guys practice like how they would compete in matches. They lead by that example to make sure we’re competitive.”
An early indication of Dickinson High’s newfound respect was shown in the first coaches’ poll of the season, where the Midgets had five wrestlers ranked in the top six of their respective weight classes: freshman Jaron Berger (fifth, 106 pounds), Lee (first, 152), Lopez (second, 170), senior Justin Meyer (fifth, 195) and Keck (second, heavyweight).

“We’re looking to prove Dickinson as a good program,” Dobitz said. “It was nice to see that recognition from the other coaches in North Dakota that they have to take Dickinson seriously. Now they’re not thinking, ‘Oh, we have Dickinson. That’s a soft one on the schedule.’”
Dobitz made it a point to say that while the poll can serve as a point of pride for those who made it, it should also serve as a reminder that they must prove their worth. And for those that weren’t included in the poll, the snub might serve as motivation.
“We thought Tom Irwin should have been in the poll, and we see that he’s already beaten a few kids at 145 pounds,” Dobitz said. “It just provides a little more fire for him for the season. I think Tom Irwin is prime to make his name known in the state.”
Dobitz said he is also excited for the returns of senior Brian Rodriguez (138 pounds) and junior Caden Haugen (160 pounds) from injuries that shortened their 2014-15 seasons, both of whom participated in the state tournament two years ago where they placed fourth and eighth, respectively.
“Caden was 2-1 when he tore his meniscus last season, and he was leading in the match he got injured, “Dobitz said. “He was primed for a good year, and he’s looking good now. Brian, he placed eighth at state in his first year ever of wrestling, so he’s a quick learner and stronger than heck. He’ll make some heads turn.”
Dobitz said Berger, one of three freshmen projected to start at their weight class tonight for the Midgets, could also have a season to remember.
“There have been a handful of great Bergers to come through our program, and he’s no exception,” Berger said. “If you’re going to wrestle him, you better expect six minutes of tough wrestling.”

Midgets’ projected lineup vs. St. Mary’s
106: Jaren Berger, Fr.
113: Brendan Johnson, Fr.
120: Jaxin Torgerson, 7th-grader
126: KiJhana Chavez, Fr.
132: Tod Irwin, Soph.
138: Brian Rodriguez, Sr.
145: Tom Irwin, Jr.
152: Jaret Lee, Sr.
160: Caden Haugen, Jr.
170: Rafael Lopez, Sr.
182: Joe Rutledge, Sr.
195: Justin Meyer, Sr. OR Emily Huerta, Jr.
220: Lucas Kubik, Sr.
Hwt: Dual Keck, Jr.

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