Magi vault seven wrestlers into state semifinals

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot High's Tyler Strandberg, bottom, tries to escape the grasp of Grand Forks Red River's Gavyn Erickson, top, during the 132-pound quarterfinal matchup at the state wrestling tournament Thursday at the Fargodome.

FARGO — The dream of being an individual state champion is still alive for seven Minot High School wrestlers.

After cruising through its opening dual round, MHS head coach Justin Racine was also pleased with his team’s success in the individual portion of the tournament.

“We’re happy with the day for sure, no doubt about it,” Racine said. “We thought we were locked in and it proves when you get seven through. We battled, man. We did lose a couple, but we’re happy with where we’re at.”

At the end of the first day, Bismarck Century leads all Class A teams with 98.5 points, followed by Bismarck (90.5) and Minot High (89).

“We’re not too far out,” Racine said. “But it’s going to take a lot in the wrestlebacks. These guys that lost in the quarters are going to have to come back and score for us. The wrestlebacks are where titles are won.”

Trying to win his second straight state championship, junior Brody Armstrong won two matches with ease to advance to today’s semifinals. Armstrong won by fall over Wahpeton’s Tanner Thiel in 56 seconds, then pinned Jamestown’s Braden Hatcher.

At 132, senior Tyler Strandberg punched his ticket to the state semifinals by needing all of 19 seconds to pin Grand Forks Red River’s Gavyn Erickson and he also beat Grand Forks Central’s Carlos Balboa by fall.

“I wrestled Balboa before, and he came out stronger this time around,” Strandberg said. “I was still able to pull it off in the end. It feels great. I’ve been practicing all year for this, and if I can make it to the finals, it will be that much better.”

Another Magi wrestler that punched his ticket to the semifinals is junior Jacob Mortensen. Mortensen, the No. 3 seed at 145, pinned Grand Forks Central’s Evan Bridgeford, then beat Valley City’s Jonathon Langer by a 9-3 decision.

Junior Creighton Rudolph, the No. 3 seed in the 160-pound weight class, fought his way to a semifinal berth with a pin of Devils Lake’s Luke Knowski and by beating Dickinson’s Caden Haugen 7-2. Tied at one apiece entering the third period, Rudolph waited for his moment to strike.

“I knew it was going to be a close match, really a one takedown match,” Rudolph said. “I was just looking to wait for my opportunity and not push anything. But I was able to finish a well-contested shot in the third.”

At 170, Matthew Rabe racked up two pins over Fargo South’s Sean Thompson and Fargo Davies’ Kolby Johnson.

Je-Mario Jones had to earn his way to the semifinals at 195 with a tightly contested match in the quarterfinals after Jones pinned Grand Forks Red River’s Hunter Stauss. Jones narrowly escaped Williston’s Rowan Horswill in a 5-3 decision to advance.

Hunter Swartwout earned a pin in his first round matchup then advanced to the semifinals after a medical forfeit by Valley City’s Jaden Oestern.

At 106, freshman Kelby Armstrong began his night with a pin over Valley City’s Austin Rogelstad in 56 seconds, putting him in a quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 ranked Laken Boese of Bismarck. Boese defeated Armstrong 15-0.

Samuel Goodman advanced to the 113 quarterfinals by winning a 6-0 decision against Turtle Mountain’s Peter McLeod, but fell in the quarterfinals to Century’s Devin Schultz by a 9-2 decision.

Freshman Trevon McClaanahan had a mixed day as the No. 5 seed in 138, defeating Fargo North’s Joshua Worral by fall, but also getting pinned by Mandan’s Ethan Fleck in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, Tyler Thompson pinned Grand Forks Red River’s Seth Hanson in the first round of the 152 bracket, but was beaten by Century’s Trey Pajimula 9-2.

Elijah Huff had a chance to make it eight Minot wrestlers advancing to the semifinals, but was beaten 3-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals by Fargo Davies’ Andre Baguma in the 285-pound weight class.

Corey Hooker fell in his first match at 120, as Dickinson’s Troy Berg won by fall. Garrett Mantz also fell in the first round to Mandan’s Jacob Boehm in the 182-pound weight class.

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.