*For weight class breakdowns, listen to the podcast preview
TEAM RACE POINT TOTALS BASED ON SEED:
Teams are awarded points based on seeds for the tournament. An unseeded wrestler gets zero points, a #1 seed gets the average number of points first place finishers received in 2015 (27). The second place scoring average was 22, third 18, and so on down the line. Credit to Dean Shearer for providing the average points scored for each placement position.
Points assigned to seed: 1: 27, 2: 22, 3: 18, 4: 14.5, 5: 13, 6: 9.5, 7: 8, 8: 6
- Lisbon: 185
- New Salem/Almont: 129
- Central Cass 112.5
- South Border 100
- Carrington 96
- Hillsboro/Central Valley 88.5
- Bowman County 78
- Napoleon 73.5
- Hettinger/Scranton 65.5
- Oakes 65.5
Let’s just call a spade a spade. It is going to be very difficult to beat the defending champion Lisbon Broncos in this tournament. That is not to say that it isn’t possible. A few year back on the A side Century was the overwhelming favorite and a lot of things didn’t go their way. Minot ended up edging Century and Bismarck on the wings of the best wrestleback round in the history of the Class A tournament (in my opinion). Lisbon boasts four #1 seeds in this tournament, and Boeden Greenley (106) and Caleb Nielsen (113) are as big a favorite as anyone outside of Hettinger/Scranton’s Kyle Burwick. Neither has lost a match since moving down in weight, and while there have been decisions scattered into those results, there hasn’t been one takedown match for either. Jordan Sours will be tested in a potential finals match with New Salem/Almont’s Josh Irwin, but the young man is a defending state champion and is undefeated. Sours has earned the benefit of the doubt without question. Lisbon’s last #1 seed is the most vulnerable because the 285 pound weight class is generally pretty wild on the B side. Shearer earned the top seed with a win over Riley Molter of South Border in the region final. Molter was undefeated going into that match, so if the two meet again, expect a 50/50 that could go either way. I also really like #4 seed Max Defender of Northern Lights. Defender has won twelve of his last thirteen matches including a first period pin over Shearer in the East/West semifinals. Defender is as much a title contender as Shearer and Molter, and could bring Lisbon’s projected point total down by nine with a win. Lisbon’s upper weights are ripe with seeded talent and they all seem well placed. At 220, Sam Rieger scored the second seed over Bowman County’s Beau Jeffers but behind #1 Cade Merrigan of Central Cass. Rieger and Jeffers have not met this season and based on results, it should be a tight one. Lisbon is in a similar situation with Gavin Reinke at 195, but Reinke is no guarantee to make the semifinals from the third seed. Reinke will likely meet Napoleon’s Peyton Grunfelder in the quarterfinals, and the two are 1-1 on the season, Reinke won the region title over Grunfelder with a 6-3 decision. The Reinke-Grunfelder quarter will be huge for the team race and tension is always high when Lisbon and Napoleon meet in big matches. Mark that match as a “MUST WATCH” Thursday night. Should Reinke win, he would have a shot at Harvey/Wells County’s Bailey Lawson. Lawson has been strong all season with the exception of his single loss to #1 seed Coy Spooner. At 182, Levi Schwab comes in seeded fifth. Schwab will meet his most familiar opponent in the quarters, Logan Sell of Oakes. The positive of this matchup is that Schwab has wins, the negative is that he is 2-3, with Sell winning the last three matches. Schwab has also given Hillsboro/Central Valley’s Mark Hasting’s two of his closest matches this season, so the possibility of Schwab dramatically outperforming his seed is there. Lisbon’s other two seeded wrestlers, Hunter Schwab (138) and Jaden Schmidt (160) should be good for the fourth and sixth seed points respectively. When you’re fifty point favorites, there isn’t much to complain about. That said, the Broncos will be hurt by the fact that Simon Sveum (132) and Avery Dick (170) were on the outside looking in when the chips fell at the Region 1 tournament. Both Sveum and Dick were in tough Region 1 brackets that kept them out. Had either qualified, each would have been possible top eight finishers as unseeded wrestlers. IN the end, Lisbon will have a hard time scoring that 185, but they have enough cushion that it may not matter.
Can New Salem/Almont catch Lisbon? Sure. Will it happen? hmmm…..Clay Gerhardt and Tayt Wolding are likely to do their thing from the top seed. Both will be tested in finals matches, but as I said with Jordan Sours, the two deserve the benefit of the doubt as two-time state champions undefeated against Class B competition. New Salem then has three guys capable of winning titles from second or third seeds that could improve their overall team score by almost 20. Five state champions would absolutely put the Holsteins right there. Chauncey Dittus has been the state’s best 145 pounder in either class all year. The return of Pembina County North state champion Tanner Urlaub put a wrench into Dittus’s possible top seed and made his semifinal matchup significantly more challenging to be sure. That said, it is going to be tough for Urlaub, who make no mistake, is a fantastic wrestler, to get a win over Dittus given that Dittus is uber-talented, and battle tested with almost six times more matches to his record than Urlaub. Josh Irwin holds a 9-4 victory over potential semifinals opponent Kaleb Beeter, so the chances are good he advances to the finals. At that point it comes down to beating a guy in Sours that Irwin took down in the fist period of their East/West final before being beaten 4-2. If the team race is still up for grabs when this match goes down on Saturday afternoon, it may decide things. From the three seed, Isaiah Huus is 1-1 with #2 Corbin Okeson, so Dave Wolding has to feel good about Huus’s chances of making the finals and scoring a few extra. Huus has also lost to Hillsboro/Central Valley senior state champion Mark Hastings by only one point at the East/West, so a title isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Huus will need to find a takedown from neutral to bring home a state championship. If New Salem wins, it will come down to three unseeded wrestlers that are all capable of state placement. Cole Gerhardt (106), Cody Irwin (113), and Ethan Hammons (138) were all drawn into the bracket, and to be honest their draws could have been more forgiving. Gerhardt drew into eight seed Isaiah Carruth of E/E/K. Carruth and Gerhardt wrestled way back in November, where Carruth won a 7-3 decision. Cody Irwin got no favors drawing into #2 Gunnar Mogen, but an upset win would give Irwin a path to the finals. A loss would mean a first round wrestle back match against Matthew Wolf (South Border) or Chance Burns (Grafton). A win there would leave a bloodround match with Ethan Stremick of Pembina County North. Stremick pinned Irwin earlier this season. Hammons finds himself in the exact same position as Irwin as he faces #2 Lucas Geiszler first round. To make matters worse, Anton Carruth of E/E/K or Carlos Martinez of Hettinger/Scranton would be the first round wrestle back match. Either would be a battle for Hammons.
So, there is a path for New Salem to surpass Lisbon and bring home their first wrestling championship. But there is also a possibility that Central Cass, South Border, or both, could surpass New Salem push the Holsteins to fourth. Central Cass is the king of the three seed. Andrew Volk (132), Chase Gross (152), and Jeremiah Sullivan (170) are all seeded third. Thrownin state finalist favorites Cade Merrigan (220) and Jake Deutsch (106), and you get the makings of a very nice tournament for the Squirrels. What I like best for these guys is their unseeded upside. Junior Totay (138), Aidan Olsen-Tingelstad (145), and Chase Jacobson (152) are all unseeded and capable of state placement. Both Totay and Jacobson drew the one seed, but that isn’t always a bad things after you get past the first match. Both wresters are capable of scoring wins over their would-be blood round opponents.
South Border is underseeded in a few spots because of regional results, so though I think it will be tough catching Lisbon, the Mustangs can absolutely finish second. Riley Molter is probably still the favorite at 285 despite his second seed, and Mark Jochim and Jake Herr could both make noise from their third and second seed respectively. I also like the chances of 152 Nathan Schauer finishing above his #5 seed.
With 96 projected points, one can’t help but think what a full strength Carrington Cardinal squad could have accomplished in this tournament. The Cardinals lost state champion Kaden Wolsky as well as Austin Hendrickson and Michael Clifton. Even without these horses, Josh Kerbaugh’s squad will be in top five contention.
I really like the chances of Bowman County strongly outscoring their the seventy-eight point projection and hitting the top five. Beau Jeffers is as much a contender at 220 as Cade Merigan and Sam Rieger, and there are a lot of unseeded Bowman County wrestlers that will win a match and possibly steal a spot on the podium.
NDwrestle Class A Predictions:
- New Salem/Almont
- Central Cass
- South Border
- Bowman County/Beach