New England high school senior Tate Nordby concluded his high school wrestling career by helping the Dickinson High wrestling team its first-ever Class A Dual State Championship in February. After his 18-3 technical decision to put the Midgets at victory's gate, Nordby wasn't sure if he would ever hit the mat competitively again.
He had heard from Dickinson State head coach Justin Schlecht between football and wrestling seasons but was hesitant to make a decision.
"I just kind of told him that I wanted to finish out my wrestling season and then I'd think about it, so I'd concentrate on my senior season," Nordby said. "After wrestling season was over, me and my mom went there and toured the facilities. ... I wanted to think about it a little longer. About two weeks ago, I made up my mind finally."
In late April, Nordby decided he wanted to get back on the mat and officially signed to be a Blue Hawk next season.
"I just don't want to be done with college and get older and wonder what if, what would have happened if I wrestled in college," Nordby said.
Nordby had an incredible senior season in the orange and black. In the 160-pound weight class, he took first at the Belle Fourche Invitational (S.D.) in late January before taking the title at the West Region Tournament at Turtle Mountain Community High School on Feb. 9. At the state championships, he went 4-1 en route to a third-place finish.
He won his first two matches by way of a 12-1 major decision and a 3-2 decision before dropping the 160-pound semifinal in a 3-1 sudden victory. He came back to win 7-0 in his consolation match before earning a 6-3 decision to win third.
His junior season, Nordby placed fourth at the state tournament at 152 pounds.
"Tate's hard-working; he's a good, grinding kid. He's kind of hard-nosed, (has a) good motor. We like that about Tate. Part of it is, 'What's not to like about Tate?'" Schlecht said. "He's a good fit in our lineup too for the future and developing him. He's gonna be in the (1)57/65-pound range for us. I think his frame fills into that area, especially once he gets into our lifting program and our strength and conditioning program."
Nordby's co-head coach at Dickinson, Trevor Conrad, was a wrestler at Dickinson State and he said he thinks Nordby will fit right in.
"Tate's a kid who will run through a brick wall for you," Conrad said. " He just believes in hard work. It doesn't have to be the nicest equipment or the nicest gear, as long as you give him a mat and an area to workout. If it's just a sandbag, he'll make it work. If anything, that's what's going to make him successful at the collegiate level.
Next year, Nordby will join a team that graduates just one senior. There are currently five Blue Hawks listed at 157 or 165, including Taner Stone, who went to the NAIA National Championships this past winter. So while redshirting is pretty likely for the incoming freshman, Nordby will still have a fair shot at making the lineup.
"That's the beauty of the sport: Let the cream rise to the top," Schlecht said. "We'll see who we redshirt based on sizes and where they fit and what weight class needs to be adjusted and that kind of stuff. I wouldn't say we necessarily plan on redshirting any of them. I wouldn't say we plan on wrestling all of them. It's just going to be what the preseason rolls out."
Nordby plans on earning an associate's degree in farm and ranch management and will decide from there whether he wants to continue to get a four-year degree. Regardless, he said he's happy to know he'll at least get two more years of wrestling.
"It still hasn't really hit in. After state, it was like, 'Oh, I'm not going to be able to do this again,'" he said. "Then, it's kind of revamping into, 'Oh yeah, you do get a couple more years.'"
Schlecht and Dickinson State now has two Midgets off the 2019 Dual Championship team, the other being Matthew Meschke, who finished fifth in the 145-pound bracket at state. Current Blue Hawk wrestlers Caden Haugen and Koletan Hafey once donned a Midget uniform as well.
"I think Coach Conrad is doing great things down there. Obviously, we're working close together and he's bouncing ideas off of me," Schlecht said. "He's done a great job of getting those kids ready and prepared and helping them understand the value of the next level."
Dickinson High senior Caleb Usher also recently signed to wrestle in college. Usher, who finished fifth at 170 pounds at state, will compete for Northland Community and Technical College in Minnesota.
With his team down two points in the Class A Dual State Championship match against Bismarck, Usher went above and beyond, pinning his opponent to seal the win.
"Caleb just brings his own dimension to wrestling," Conrad said. "When we had our state title dual match, the state title was on him, and he just went out and did his thing. He stayed pretty cool under that pressure. He's got a funk about him that not a lot of guys expect. He throws some guys for a curveball. ... I think if anything, he'll be successful if he can develop some more of those foundational moves and keep his funk going."