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No. 5 Ryan and Velva wrestling fall in opening round of dual tourney

Justin Martinez/MDN Bishop Ryan senior Brenden Daves (top) searches for positioning as he takes on Central Cass’ Cade Merrigan Thursday in the opening round of the Class B state dual tournament at the Fargodome.

FARGO — Bodies were hitting the mats Thursday as the Class B state dual tournament kicked off at the Fargodome.

With the best teams in North Dakota battling to keep their hopes of a championship alive, here’s a look at how the Region 3 representatives faired:

Velva

The Velva wrestling team found itself on the wrong side of a late surge against No. 3-seeded New Salem-Almont.

After battling tooth and nail for the first half of the dual, the Aggies surrendered a 32-0 run en route to a 53-21 loss.

Justin Martinez/MDN Velva senior Kuttsr Blumhagen (top) goes on the attack during his 285-pound match against New Salem-Almont’s AJ Heins on Thursday in the opening round of the Class B state dual tournament at the Fargodome.

“We wrestled a tough New Salem team,” Velva head coach Chad Barstad said. “I think they’re probably going to make a run for the finals. I thought our kids played tough, but we just don’t quite have what it takes to match up with New Salem at this point.”

Velva held its own in the first few matches, as sophomore Bransyn Yanish gave his team a 3-0 lead with an 8-2 decision win over New Salem’s Ty Wolding to start the dual.

After surrendering a pair of Holstein falls, the Aggies shook off the 12-point swing and responded. Eight-grader Brayden Selzler and sophomore Wyatt Hanson earned falls of their own at 170 and 195 pounds, respectively, to tie the score at 21 apiece.

The shift in momentum occurred in the 220-pound match, as sophomore Jeremiah Jesperson and New Salem’s Adam Norman needed an overtime to decide the winner.

Morman dug deep and made his move with just 20 seconds left in the extra period, flipping Jesperson on his back and earning the dramatic pin to give his team a 21-15 lead.

“We went from having a chance to get a win in overtime to giving up a pin,” Barstad said. “At that point, the dual was pretty much done at that point, so we decided to throw in a couple of our younger guys to get experience and rested up a couple of our other guys.”

Senior Kutter Blumhagen knotted the score at 21 apiece in the following 285-pound match with a third-period pin against AJ Heins, but it was all New Salem from that point on.

After securing a pair of major decision wins at 106 and 113 pounds, the Holsteins finished the dual with four straight falls to earn the convincing 53-21 victory.

Velva now falls to the losers bracket, where it’ll take on Hillsboro-Central Valley today at 12:30 p.m. with hopes of advancing to the fifth-place match later today at 7 p.m.

Bishop Ryan

Also falling short of a trip to the semifinals was the Bishop Ryan wrestling team.

The Lions had a frustrating opening-round matchup against No. 4-seeded Central Cass, as an early deficit and an unfortunate injury ultimately resulted in a 45-23 defeat.

“I thought that we wrestled well,” Ryan head coach Steve Lipp said. “It’s tough, but Central Cass is a great team that wrestled well. I wish them luck on the next round.”

Ryan got the dual started off on the right foot, as senior Logan Sharpless dominated Central Cass’ Aidan Olson at 145 pounds for an 18-7 major decision win.

But things quickly went south for the Lions. The first setback came in the following 152-pound match, as senior Kaleb Beeter suffered a collarbone injury in the first 30 seconds of his battle with Chase Jacobson and was forced to leave the mat, giving Central Cass a 6-4 edge.

The next blow came 42 seconds into the following 160-pound match, as Central Cass’ Chase Gross pinned junior Logan McRoy. Central Cass’ Jeremiah Sullivan piled it on in the following 170-pound match by earning an 8-3 decision win over senior Cody Luck.

The series of wins marked a 15-0 run Squirrels run to give the higher seed a 15-4 edge.

Now trailing 36-13, the Lions attempted to chip away at the daunting deficit.

Sophomore Gannon Ledoux got the ball rolling with an 11-2 major decision win over Central Cass’ Grant Schatzke at 120 pounds. Freshman Wesley Harvey then added to the cause with a fall in the first minute of his 126-pound matchup with Jadan Bartz to make it a 36-23 affair.

The comeback proved to be too late, though, as Ryan trailed by 13 points with only two matches left. Central Cass took care of business in the final pair of contests and earned the 45-23 win.

“Knowing that we were against the eight ball, we needed some pins to try and make up the difference,” Lipp said. “Sometimes being that aggressive can backfire, and I think it did a little bit today. But I give my kids credit for going out there and trying to get the falls.”

Ryan now falls to the losers bracket to face Bowman County/Beach today at 2 p.m. with a trip to the fifth-place match at 7 p.m. on the line.

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.

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