Individual regionals are upon us on both the Class A and Class B side. The following is a list of the (potential) matches I’ll be following the most closely and why! Also pay attention to who is where. Expect a lot of movement on the A and B side, as teams championship contenders jockey for maximum point potential.
106 West Region: #1 Christian Tanefeu (Bismarck) vs. #2 Aden Braun (Jamestown): Tanefeu is undefeated against Braun this season, but the most recent bouts have been very close. A Braun win wont change seeding at state, but it will get me even more excited for a potential barn burner of a state finals match.
113 West Region: #1 Kelby Armstrong (Minot) vs. #2 Wilfried Tanefeu (Bismarck): Armstrong has been the cream of the crop in North Dakota for the last two seasons now, and is certainly the favorite to bring home the 113 pound title. At the Bismarck Rotary, Armstrong scored a third period fall over Tanefeu. A few weeks later in the Minot-BHS dual, Tanefeu narrowed the gap to an 8-4 decision. Lets see where we stand going into the state tournament.
126 West Region: #1 Clay Radenz (Century) vs. #2 Lake Boese (Bismarck) vs. #3 Ethan Bowman (Jamestown): Boese and Bowman both have state titles. Radenz is probably the best Class A wrestler without one. Now 2-0 against Boese after a 6-2 victory in the Bismarck/Century dual a week ago, Radenz will have the benefit of the #1 seed. That means Bowman and Boese will duke it out in the West Region semifinals with a lot on the line regarding state tournament seeding. After missing the early part of the season, Fargo South’s Jacob Thomas has been on the mat and is currently undefeated against North Dakota competition. Should Thomas win the EDC championship at 126, expect him to be right in the mix with the the WDA guys for the state’s top seed next week in Fargo. Bowman has yet to wrestle Boese or Radenz this season, so those matches will be very interesting to follow.
132: Everything. I want to see everything: This is the deepest weight class in any region in the state, with each wrestler in the top six competing at the WDA regional in Belcourt. St. Mary Central’s Drew Steidler was the alpha all season long, scoring bonus point victories over everyone in the top six with the exception of Williston’s Dalton McKenzie. Then, last Saturday at the St. Mary’s gymnasium, McKenzie did something no one but Ryan Ripplinger has been able to do in the last two seasons; beat Drew Steidler. The win won’t vault McKenzie ahead of Steidler in the seeding, but it did put the rest of the state on notice. Jaron Berger (Dickinson) Preston Fettig (Bismarck), Liam Shannon (Watford City), and Devin Schulz (Century)-plus McKenzie- all have wins over one another this season. Thus, WDA placement will go a long way in determining who is where at the state tournament. For contenders like Bismarck and Dickinson, getting Fettig and Berger in the right spot in the bracket will be huge in the individual race.
138/ 145 WDA: Where are you Ryan Ripplinger?: The Ace in the hole. Class A’s best wrestler, Bismarck three-time state champion Ryan Ripplinger would be the heavy, heavy, heavy, favorite to win and individual title at 138 or 145. Ripplinger has wrestled both weights in January, and I expect Bismarck will have him where they can best maximize their lineup. But where is that, and what will the fallout be for the rest of the state’s wrestlers at those two weight classes? We will find out Friday evening.
152 WDA: #1 Ethan Fleck (Mandan) vs. #2 Raif Horswill (Williston) vs. #3 Brandt Kringlie (Bismarck): Fleck will be the top seed, as he has a winning record over Horswill and Kringlie, so that bottom half semifinal will be huge. For Bismarck High, this is another spot where a strong performance would set them up better at state.
160 WDA: #1 Tate Nordby (Dickinson) vs. #2 Kolton Reisenauer (Mandan): The difference was a 4-2 overtime decision the only time these guys met. State #1 seed could will be on the line.
160 EDC: #3 Connor Chloupek (Davies) vs. #5 Parker Vilandre (Devils Lake) vs. #6 Kolbe Booker (Davies) vs. Ben Stevens (Grand Forks Central): This is the first really deep weight in the EDC, and I’m just not sure who is going to come out of this region as champion. Though Nordby and Reisenauer are at the top, they have had tight matches with these guys from the EDC. This is probably the hardest to predict weight class come next week.
170 EDC: #1 Jaden Mairs (Davies) vs. #2 Will Rohrich (Grand Forks Central): The only weight class in the state where the top two in the rankings are from the East, and the EDC actually holds the top four spots so pay attention to the semifinals as well. Rohrich looked very good in the matchup with Mairs at the Gadberry Invite, but the Davies senior finished the match with a fall in 4:29.
220 WDA: #1 Jacob Boehm (Mandan) vs. #3 Paul Vandal (Jamestown): Vandal handed Boehm his in-state loss of the season in the Mandan/Jamestown dual at the end of January. In that match, Vandal led late when Boehm was forced to injury default due to some serious cramping. Can Vandal replicate?
285 WDA: #1 Chase Dockter (Bismarck) vs. #3 Konnor Stordalen (Century): Make no mistake, Chase Dockter is the guy at 285 pounds, and perhaps the best heavyweight North Dakota has seen in recent memory when you remove Brandon Metz. That said, this match gained my attention when Stordalen was able to hold Dockter to a 4-2 decision in the BHS/Century dual.