Team Race: Valley City, Fargo Davies, West Fargo, and Grand Forks Central are the four teams that have a full 17 wrestlers entered in the regional. Throw in Devils Lake and their sixteen entries and you have the five teams with a chance to make some noise in Wahpeton on Saturday. The most likely scenario to me is a team title for the Valley City Hi-Liners. VC is anchored by EDC title favorites Koye Grebel (106) and Parker Larson (160), but also has a competitive wrestler in their lineup at nearly every weight class. In the EDC those guys have a chance to win Region titles at some weights. Valley City has a strong crew of young wrestlers on the edge of the rankings, but the thing working against them will be that only Grebel, Larson, and 113 Ethan Miller are ranked in the top six at their respective weight classes. West Fargo’s six wrestlers in the top six, as well as Devils Lake’s four, should keep them into the hunt Saturday afternoon.
Toughest weight class: 285
The top dog in the state this season has been Grand Forks Central’s Brody DeFoe. DeFoe became Central’s first Bismarck Rotary champion in something like 25 years back in January. He is also undefeated against North Dakota competition and hasn’t been held to a decision since the Rotary quarterfinals. Behind Defoe are three other wrestlers ranked in the top six, plus West Fargo’s K.C. Ortiz. Ortiz is just on the outside looking in and could be a lower seed at state depending on Saturday’s results. South’s Isaiah Gates is a true wild card here, as he spent much of the year at 220 before wrestling every match at heavyweight since January 23. DeFoe pinned Gates in under a minute in the Larimore Invite final. Gates has a pin over #5 Jack Kuntz of Devils Lake, but has not yet wrestled Red River’s #6 Parker Nelson. 285 is the one weight where I expect the EDC to have more in the top eight than the WDA.
Individual match ups to keep and eye on:
113: #4 Ethan Miller of Valley City will be the top seed, but he has had close bouts with both Connor Manske of Sheyenne and Ethan Springer of Devils Lake. Should Miller come through the bracket, he should lock up a nice seed at state as EDC champion. Manske or Springer could dramatically improve their stock with a title of their own.
126: Brant Fisk (Devils Lake) and Danny Monatukwa (Fargo North) are ranked second and third respectively at a weight where it will be important to be on the bottom of the state tournament bracket and away from St. Mary’s Central two-time champion Reece Barnhardt. Fisk defeated Monatukwa 7-1 earlier in the year. The potential monkey wrench for these two is West Fargo’s Tyler Porter. Porter has not met Fisk, but he is 1-2 on the season with Monatukwa and has a great wrestling pedigree. The Monatukwa/Porter semifinal will be the one I am most interested in on the EDC side.
132: Jacob Thomas of Fargo South could make an argument for the state’s number one seed based on his victory over Bismarck’s Kaden Renner at Valley City. Thomas hasn’t wrestled #1 Kelby Armstrong, but Renner is 1-1 vs. the Minot state champion so things could either clear up, or get even more muddled, after what unfolds on Saturday. Thomas is uber-talented, but could be hindered by the fact that he only has 21 matches entering the regional. Thomas has not wrestled likely EDC #2 seed Josh Isassi of Grand Forks Central and has a 15-12 win over West Fargo’s Kaleb Porter. Porter will be at 138 this weekend after competing most of the season at 132. Isassi is a dangerous wrestler who has been capable of upsets in the past. If Thomas comes through the bracket as champion, he will set himself up very nicely for state.
170: Connor Chloupek of Davies has strong resume entering the EDC tournament and will be the top seed. Chloupek and three other EDC wrestlers are in the NDwrestle top six, but Chloupek hasn’t wrestled any of them. #4 Joel McIntosh could make things interesting if he is able to through to the finals. Micaiah Peterson of Red River and Garrett Lathrop of Wahpeton will also be in the mix.
195: Shane Kennedy is a serious state title contender for Sheyenne. He is 1-0 against the other EDC title contender Robbie Serumgard of Devils Lake. Kennedy scored a third period fall in that match.
220: Truman Werremeyer of Davies is the second state #1 to come from the EDC (along with GFC’s Defoe), and Josh Krump of Wahpeton is #2. That means 220 is the one weight at which there is a high probability of the EDC final also being the state final. Werremeyer won the only match up between the two in dual competition this season 5-2. Krump did sustain an injury in the finals at Storhaug and hasn’t wrestled since. I have not received any information as to his status, but hopefully he will be ready to go this weekend in his home gym.
What did we miss? What are you looking most forward to this weekend in Wahpeton?