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Midgets dethrone Demons in WDA wrestling tournament

It all came down to sophomore Tanner Jarrett. While the Dickinson High wrestling team held a small lead over reigning champion Bismarck High in the closing stages of the West Region Tournament, Jarrett's 1-0 decision victory in the 182 pound cham...

Members of the Dickinson High wrestling team pose with their trophy after winning the West Region Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Turtle Mountain Community High School. Courtesy of Pete Dobitz
Members of the Dickinson High wrestling team pose with their trophy after winning the West Region Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Turtle Mountain Community High School. Courtesy of Pete Dobitz

It all came down to sophomore Tanner Jarrett.

While the Dickinson High wrestling team held a small lead over reigning champion Bismarck High in the closing stages of the West Region Tournament, Jarrett's 1-0 decision victory in the 182 pound championship match sealed the Midgets' 194-188.5 win on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Turtle Mountain Community High School.

"I didn't realize until I won that we won the tournament, 'til all the boys started huddling after me after I ran away from the mat to go do my sprints," Jarrett said. "All the boys were huddling me, hugging me. I was like, 'Woah, I know I won, but it's not that big of a deal!' They were all happy and congratulating me."

The Demons are a powerhouse on the mat, going into the WDA tournament as the No. 1 seed 17 of the past 18 years. Additionally, Bismarck has won the state tournament 12 times in that same time frame, including four times in the last five years.

In their first WDA tournament win since 2003, the Midgets also qualified a record-high 16 individuals for the state meet in Fargo that takes place from Thursday, Feb. 14, to Saturday, Feb. 16.

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"It was a huge, collective effort. We brought 17 kids there and we got 16 qualified. That's a new record for us," Dickinson head coach Pete Dobitz said. "It was a tremendous effort from kids like (freshman) Wyatt Raines, who maybe hasn't had the best season all year, but really put it together here. At 195 pounds, he won two matches at the varsity level. A collective effort, like (senior) Kameron Clark, (who has) been a 195-pounder all year, and he moves up to 220 pounds and finishes third."

Raines placed 6th for the Midgets, along with Cullen Murphy, senior Matthew Meschke and freshman Dexter Carpenter. Sophomore Cody Booth picked up a seventh-place finish, while freshman Dawson Richter finished eighth and freshman Houston Crimmins came in fifth.

Eighth-grader Henry Nelson and sophomore Jaxin Torgerson took fourth, as seniors Jaren Berger, Caleb Usher and Brendan Johnson each earned second.

Jarrett, a sophomore at South Heart High School, was one of two Midgets to finish on top of the podium on Saturday, but his victory was special, as it came by way of a 1-0 decision over Jacob Carmichael of Minot. Emerging from the down position to begin the third round, his escape was the only point earned.

"He's really good, he's bigger than me and I knew he's smart on his feet. I knew I had to be smart on my feet," Jarrett said of Carmichael. "With my shoulder, I had to make sure I came in and knew what I was going to do. He knew exactly what to target with shoulder and he knew my moves were coming. I knew I had to go down and get a point and try to wrestle him off with my hurt shoulder."

Senior Tate Nordby, who attends New England High School, won the 160 pound weight class, shutting out all three of his opponents while winning two by major decision. His victory granted him the top seed in the state bracket. He will start his run at a state championship against Jordin Lennon of Minot, who he defeated 12-0 on Saturday.

Freshman Troy Berg advanced to the finals in the 138-pound weight class, winning two matches in his return from a knee injury. After securing a high-seeded spot at state, Dobitz held Berg out of the final against Bismarck High's Ryan Ripplinger, who will be the No. 1 seed at state. When the brackets were revealed on Tuesday, Feb. 12, Berg was slotted into the No. 2 spot.

Johnson will be the No. 2 seed at 120 pounds, Berger is also No. 2 at 132 pounds and Usher was given the No. 5 seed at 170 pounds.

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"One of the things we did (on Saturday) that we haven't done at other tournaments, was in between rounds, we got together as a group and sat and visited about the importance of your match towards winning this as a team," Dobitz said. "Every single match makes a difference and you're wrestling not for yourself only, but you're wrestling for the rest of the guys in the Dickinson High singlets. It was unbelievable."

With such a narrow point differential, every win in every consolation match earns crucial points, as Nelson did. After dropping the semifinal by major decision, Nelson won his consolation semifinal with a fall in three minutes and 34 seconds.

"I feel like we did really good," Nelson said. "We scored a lot of extra bonus points. It was one of our goals to be number one and right now, we're still feeling it."

Nelson will be the No. 4 seed in the state bracket and will face Cyncere Haskins of Grand Forks Central in the first round.

The team is a little beat up, with three competitors nursing knee injuries, but Dobitz is confident his team will be more than ready come Thursday when they open the state tournament in the first round of the Class A dual tournament at the FargoDome. Dickinson, the No. 2 seed from the West, will do battle with Grand Forks Central, the East's No. 3 seed, at 11 a.m. CT.

The last time Dickinson competed in the dual competition was five years ago when a few of the current seniors wrestled as middle schoolers.

If the Midgets and the Demons win their first round duals, they will go head to head once again. The two teams closed out the regular season with a clash at the Dickinson High Gym that ended in a 37-30 Bismarck victory.

"We can't overlook people, we got Grand Forks first, but the last time we wrestled Bismarck High, we had a couple guys out because of injury," Dobitz said. "That was a seven-point deficit. We'll just see. We'll see what happens. It's going to be a fun three days in Fargo."

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