The outcome was never in question, and even before the spotlight flipped on at Magic City Campus, a Bismarck victory seemed like the only conceivable result.
The looming question was how much of a fight Minot High would, or could, present.
The top-ranked Demons' 61-10 rout on Thursday left Minot coach Nolan Spooner with mixed emotions.
Minot High sophomore 170-pounder Tyler Kolobakken is pinned by Bismarck’s Jake Sanders on Thursday at Magic City Campus.
On the one hand, freshman Tyler Strandberg and senior Isaiah Crowe recorded victories, with the latter coming in a pin of the state's No. 1 heavyweight, Tristan Hall. On the other, Minot allowed the maximum six points in eight matches - six by pin, two by forfeit.
"Yeah they're rated, they're ranked, they're nationally ranked (just outside the top 50)," Spooner said, "whatever it is you just gotta realize and believe you can wrestle with them. A couple kids tonight, that switch came on. But a couple of 'em, they're not taking what they're doing in the wrestling room and bringing it up here, which is disappointing as a coaching staff."
Spooner stressed the importance of busting through the mental block that facing a powerhouse program erects.
Strandberg took that lesson to heart. Following a Minot forfeit to open the dual, he posted a 16-2 major decision over Aiden Schuh at 126 pounds.
"It's a big mental game," Strandberg said. "I tried my hardest to keep my head in the game and not worry about who it was; just going out there and being aggressive, taking the match to him."
Bismarck reeled off the next nine bouts to balloon its slim lead to 52-4. At one point, the Demons strung together four straight pins, with the first two coming in the first period from top-ranked wrestlers Ricky Galindo (152) and Ryan Blees (160).
"What they're doing in the practice room is more than what we're getting out of 'em under the light here," Spooner said. "We gotta work on that as a coaching staff to get those kids to break through. A lot of it's mental."
Crowe (22-5) ended Bismarck's succession of wins by dealing Hall (19-9) his first loss to an in-state opponent all year.
Trailing 2-0 midway through the second period, Crowe rolled over to seize dominant position, recorded the pin - "one of the biggest wins" of his career - and let out a thunderous roar.
"It felt great," Crowe said, "knowing that I am one of the top contenders for the state title at heavyweight."
Spooner was delighted with Crowe's performance. Certainly he didn't expect impressive upsets in all 14 bouts, but he'd like to see more from the Magicians, who host Mandan on Thursday.
"(Crowe) kept his match close and when the window of opportunity came, he went through it. He used it to his advantage," Spooner said. "We had a couple of other kids who had the window of opportunity, but they didn't pull the trigger."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High athletics.
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