High school wrestling season kicks off with Minot Early Bird

Ryan Ladika/MDN The Minot Majettes’ Codey Irwin, top, wrestles Mandan’s Jillian Schwartz on the first day of sanctioned girls’ wrestling Saturday afternoon.

High school wrestling fans from around the state came out in droves and were treated to a little bit of history at the Minot Early Bird meet hosted at the Magic City Campus Saturday morning, the start of the wrestling season in North Dakota.

While officially a part of the regular season, the meet acted as more of an exhibition of sorts with participants representing 13 schools, including Bishop Ryan, Carrington, Des Lacs-Burlington, Devils Lake, Harvey, Mandan, Minot, Turtle Mountain, Velva, Williams County and Williston, facing off on the mats throughout the early morning and afternoon.

Saturday also marked the first day of sanctioned girls’ wrestling in the state of North Dakota, and 28 girls from three different schools, including eight from Minot High’s first girls’ squad, made history as well.

“It feels really good, we’ve only got a few practices under our belt, and most of my team has never wrestled before,” Minot High girls’ wrestling coach Mitch Meyer said. “It’s nice to see the progression of what we’ve been working on with practice, coming out and seeing how they’re doing on the mat, and how much better they’re getting every match that they wrestle.”

The Majettes were led throughout the day by Sadie Richmond, who earned the first individual victory of the season for Minot High’s girls and finished a perfect 4-for-4 in her matches on the day. The freshman won by fall in each of her four bouts, three of which came in under two minutes, clinching first place in the 170-pound weight class.

“It’s been really fun, we have a lot of girls who are getting in,” Richmond said. “I like cradles. I’m not very good at down, so I just wait until they shoot most of the time, so mostly just defense.”

The Majettes’ Codey Irwin also took first place in the 100-110 class with three wins in three matches and the teams’ remaining members, Martha Ward, Haleigh Carr, Payton Russell, Madelyn Roth, Kiera Aguilar and Jade’ence Fletcher finished no lower than fifth in each of their respective classes.

“Just learning more positions, with the few practices that we’ve had we’ve just been trying to learn a few things and get really good at those few things,” Meyer continued. “And then we just have to keep building off that. We have a solid foundation, mix in a few moves, little tweaks here and there, and we’re going to see a big difference in the next couple of weeks when we compete again.”

On the boys’ varsity side, Gabe Mortenson and Tyler Nelson earned first- and second-place finishes for the Magicians in the 126-pound class, with the former earning a win by 2-1 decision over the latter.

Daniel Fernandez snagged first in the 132-pound class with a pair of wins over Carrington’s Matthew Duchscherer and Turtle Mountain’s Brayden Starr. Victor Garcia and Anthony Carulli finished first and fourth, respectively, in the 145 class, Deandre Maldonado came in second in the 152 class, and Jobe Rystedt finished second in the 195 class.

“I like what I’m seeing, these guys are wrestling really hard,” Minot boys’ coach Justin Racine said. “It’s a good first tournament to get out of the way and get guys making weight and get a couple good matches. We’ve had a few good matches so far, and we’re wrestling aggressive.”

Devils Lake’s Jenna Gerhardt clinched the top spot overall in the 106 class with three decision victories and Pitch Hager and Maddox Campbell, both from Velva, finished third and fourth.

Tucker Bennett, also from Devils Lake, finished second in the 113 class with a win by fall over Bishop Ryan’s Riley Weeks, who finished third, and another Devils Lake wrestler, Owen Lindstrom, clinched a second-place spot in the 120 class after a pair of victories by fall.

Des Lacs-Burlington’s Reese Peck earned a fifth-place finish in the 132 class, and the Lakers’ Kaiden Smith and Velva’s Carson Hildre came in fifth and sixth, respectively, when the former won by injury default over the latter.

Gunner Rakness, from Des Lacs-Burlington, later placed sixth in the 145 class behind Devils Lake’s Colton Young, who earned third, and the Lakers’ Cale Ibach finished first in the 152 class with a decision win over Maldonado.

Velva’s Triton Kaercher and Lucas Seibuhr earned fourth and fifth place finishes in the 160 class and the Lakers’ Carter Miller and the Lions’ Alejandro Alvarez finished third and fifth in the 182 class to round out the highlights of the day’s action.

Because the Magicians’ Tuesday dual against Williston has been rescheduled to Feb. 3, 2022, Minot will be back in action Dec. 3 in tournament action at Sidney High School. The Majettes, meanwhile, will hit the road south for the Mandan Lions tournament Dec. 3-4.


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