Bismarck held a 50 point lead entering day three of the North Dakota State Individual wrestling tournament. Dickinson was able to narrow the gap to ten in the morning’s wrestleback rounds, but the Bismarck horses left no doubt in the finals. Bismarck’s six finalists all took home individual championships and the Demons rolled to the team title by thirty over Dickinson. A tight three-way battle for third ended with Mandan at the top, and Jamestown edging century for fourth by just half a point.
\Bismarck’s fantastic run started at 285, where returning state champion Chase Dockter edged Valley City’s Jaden Oestern 3-2. Dockter ended the season with just one loss. He is headed to Concordia (Moorhead) to play football next season.
The train kept rolling for Bismarck at 106 and 113 as brothers Christian and Wilfried Tanefeu made it three consecutive Demon champions. Christian scored a first period takedown, but opponent Aden Braun sent the match to overtime with a late takedown and rideout. Christian Tanefeu scored a takedown in the extra frame to get a 5-3 decision. Wilfried scored the upset of the tournament, rolling to a 7-4 victory over returning state champion Kelby Armstrong of Minot. Armstrong had previously defeated Tanefeu three times this season.
Another upset minded Demon got the job done at 126. In a match that capped what was possibly the most impressive individual performance of the weekend, Bismarck’s Laken Boese overcame three previous losses to cross-town rival Clay Radenz and won 7-5 decision. Boese rolled to his second state title on the strength of three takedowns.
Ryan Ripplinger won his fourth individual state championship when he defeated Dickinson freshman Troy Berg 9-3. Ripplinger joins Travis Lang, Joe Schumacher, and Ryan Blees as the only four-time state champions in the fantastic history of Demon wrestling.
The final Demon title came at 152, where sophomore Brandt Kringlie won his first title with a 5-0 decision over #1 Ethan Fleck of Mandan. the win reversed a 3-1 loss Kringlie took at the hands of Fleck in the West Region final.
To go with their six champions, the Demons placed five more wrestlers in the top eight. Though state champions Dockter, Boese, and Ripplinger graduate, Bismarck will no doubt be ready for another title run next season.
Second place Dickinson was held without a champion, as 138 Troy Berg fell to Ripplinger and 120 Brendan Johnson went down to St. Mary’s Central’s Reece Barnhardt 12-6. Barnhardt sprinted out to an early lead and coasted to his second undefeated title. Only a sophomore, Barnhardt won his second state title and finished the season undefeated at 47-0. Barnhardt is only the third Saint to finish a season undefeated. He joins his father Duane and brother Tate with two NDHSAA state championships. St. Mary’s Central got a second title at 132 from Drew Steidler. After finishing runner-up the last three seasons, the junior scored an early takedown and cruised to a 7-1 decision over Williston’s Dalton McKenzie. Steidler’s father Rich was a state champion at St. Mary’s Central, and brother Devin won one for Bismarck High in 2018.
Third place Mandan was snake-bitten three consecutive times from 145-160 and like Dickinson, was also left without an individual champion. In one of the most entertaining matches of the night, Mandan’s 145 Will Kleinknecht found his way to the legs of opponent Matthew Rader of Century multiple times, but Rader’s used fantastic defense to send the match to overtime 1-1. After no on scored in the one minute neutral period, Rader won the match with a top position ride out.
Ethan Fleck’s loss to Brandt Kringle meant that Mandan’s last chance at an individual title rested on the shoulder of 160 Kolton Reisenauer. Reisenauer scored first blood with a takedown against Davies Junior Kolbe Booker for the early lead, but Booker found paydirt on a last second body lock and won the match 4-3. Booker was the lowest seed to win a state champion in either class The junior transferred to Davies after competing for Moorhead last season and took some losses in early January that led to his low seed. In the end, the seed didn’t matter. Davies was the high scoring East Region team at eighth.
Fourth place Jamestown got an individual title from 220 senior Paul Vandal. Vandal won an upper body war with South’s Isaiah Gated and scored a fall in 3:59.
Cade Pederson capped his West Fargo career with a second title. The 182 pounder won a 3-1 decision over Minot’s Jacob Carmichael. Pederson won it at 160 as a sophomore and finished runner-up last season.
Matt Kaylor has set a bar at Legacy that will be difficult for any future Sabre to equal. Kaylor won his second consecutive title at 195 pounds when he pinned Wahpeton’s Josh Krump in :38. Katylor finished his senior season 38-1, and is headed to the University of Mary next season.
Nolen Demery entered the state tournament as the fourth seed with a 33-12 record. When it was all said and done, Demery made it to the mountaintop. The Turtle Mountain senior scored a beautiful hi-crotch in overtime to upend #2 Will Rohrich of Grand Forks Central.