Team North Dakota’s lone win Tuesday came when Sophia Smith defeated Hannah Strauss of Illinois in one of the first bouts of the morning. In doing so, Smith advanced to the 117 pound Cadet national championship match and a chance at her first Fargo stop sign. After the day was done, neither Smith, nor the West Fargo duo of Brandon Metz and Jared Franek, cold finish with a championship. All three lost to favored opponents.
In her title match, Smith wasn’t able to keep the strong pace of Ohio’s Leila Castro. Castro, who dominated throughout the tournament, scored two quick two point takedowns and then went big for four twice in a row for a 12-0 technical fall victory in 1:34. Smith will look to make it a double by competing in theWomen’s Junior tournament later this week.
Jared Franek and Illinois state champion Will Lewan wrested a calculated bout in which the the two grapplers only scores were traded shot clock point for the first 5:00. Franek took a 2-1 advantage with about a minute remaining when Lewan was unable to score on his second shot clock of the match. Faced with the urgency of needing any score to win, Lewan was able to grind out a single push out point to take back the advantage 2-2. Franek flurried for the last :30, but gave up a takedown and leg lace for a final score of 6-2.
In the final bout of the day, Anthony Cassioppi and Brandon Metz battled hard for position over the course of six minutes, but Cassioppi was able to make the most of the best scoring exchange for either; turning a Metz throw attempt from the edge of the mat into a two point exposure score. Needing a takedown late to win, Metz shot a hard running double that was originally awarded a pushshot point. The North Dakota coaching staff attempted to challenge what could have been a four point attack with continuation, but after review it was determined that Metz head butted Cassioppi during the scoring chance. Cassioppi was awarded a point for the caution, a point for the failed challenge, and ultimately a 4-1 victory. Both Metz and Cassioppi are likely on a collision course for the Greco final when the tournament starts Thursday. Metz is the returning Junior Greco champion, while Cassioppi is looking to finish the third leg of the triple crown.