Velva, DL-B/ L&C each boast several semifinalists

FARGO — After the first day of the North Dakota state wrestling tournament, Velva finds itself in seventh place in the Class B division. The Aggies have 41.5 points, trailing first-place teams Carrington and Hettinger-Scranton, which have 60.5 each.

On top of that, the Aggies qualified three wrestlers for today’s state semifinals.

At the 195-pound weight class, Velva’s Justin Helseth proved why he was the No. 2 seed. Helseth didn’t even need a minute to pin either of his opponents, as Carrington’s Colton Buskness and Hillsboro/Central Valley’s Jake Connelly both had their state championship dreams dashed before they could even be realized.

“I’ve been to the semifinals before, but this time I need to make sure I got through it and get to the finals,” Helseth said. “I’m hoping this is the year, it’s been a long time coming.”

Meanwhile, Velva’s Elijah Hackman bested Ben Berdal 12-3 and Kindred’s Easton Ogren 16-1 en route to heading to the 138-pound semifinals as a No. 3 seed. His teammate, Jon Thomas – the No. 2 seed at 152 – pinned Oakes’ Logan Sell, then won a 7-5 decision over Kindred’s Trace Bakke.

Des Lecs-Burlington/Lewis & Clark may be in 22nd place with 16 points, but at least it can boast it is sending two of its wrestlers to the semifinals.

That includes Colton Bartuska as the No. 4 seed in the 138-pound weight class after he pinned Oakes’ Taylor Schall and Standing Rock’s Shad Agard in his first two matches. Bartuska’s teammate, Coy Spooner, will also be joining him in the semifinals. Spooner defeated Watford City’s Antonio Garcia 11-0, then defeated Bowman County’s Matthew Carlson 6-4 in the ultimate tiebreaker at 145.

Watford City sits at 11th with 27 points and 182-pound wrestler Connor Dennis will have a shot in the semis after defeating Landon Smith by fall then beating Standing Rock’s Kobe Murphy in an 8-1 decision.

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