Postseason Prep

No. 2 Magi wrestling building for February state tournament

Ryan Ladika/MDN Minot High’s Danny Fernandez, right, wrestles in the 138-pound class during the Magi’s Dec. 16 triangular with St. Mary’s and Watford City.

With the Class A state wrestling tournament on the horizon, the Minot High boys’ squad is hard at work setting itself up for future success.

The team built upon its solid beginning to the season with a dominant 57-18 victory in its Jan. 6 dual with the Jamestown Blue Jays, and later earned a fifth-place finish out of 29 total schools from three different states at the Bismarck Rotary Tournament during the next two days’ action.

The Magicians’ final 152-point total also secured a second-place spot among North Dakota schools competing at the Rotary, second only to Bismarck High’s 172.5.

“I think our guys had a little calmer demeanor to them in the Rotary than in years past,” Magi head coach Justin Racine said. “They took it seriously but were having fun out there and being aggressive and going after guys. It was a fun tournament, we wrestled well.”

Victor Garcia led the Magi through the Rotary with a first-place finish in the 138-pound weight class on the back of his 3-2 decision victory over Dickinson’s Houston Crimmins that highlighted a 5-0 tournament showing for the senior. His impressive weekend garnered 29 points alone for his team.

Kade Marker, Gabe Mortensen and DeJarius Jones each cracked the top three in their respective weight classes as well, combining for 71 points with a pair of second-place finishes and one third.

“I think success breeds success,” Racine stated. “You got one guy that’s successful, and then it goes to the next guy and gets that ball rolling. It’s a huge thing. A lot of people think wrestling is an individual sport, which it is, but it’s not. It’s a lot about the team aspect as well.”

Even more crucial than the impressive numbers the Magicians have been producing as of late, though, is the requisite strength and endurance required of the athletes throughout three consecutive days of wrestling.

The state tournament hosted at the FargoDome, now just a month away, is also a three-day test of strength and will. Racine noted that the recent string of three-day events in which the Magi, now ranked second in the state in the season’s third Class A coaches’ poll, have taken part is no accident.

“We like to put a couple of three-day competitions together just so we can get used to it for the state tournament,” he added. “That was a good way of scoping out where we’re at, guys have to make weight for three days, so that’s important that they get used to that.”

The team’s postponed dual with the Bismarck High School Demons, originally scheduled for Jan. 13, will be made up this weekend at the Metro Duals tournament in Fargo.

Minot will meet Bismarck in one of eight duals with eight different teams in the two-day tournament, marking the continuation of another three-day stretch of wrestling following a Thursday home dual with the struggling Mandan Braves. The Braves have yet to win a dual this season and have placed as high as sixth at the Jan. 15 Moorhead Gadberry Invitational.

“You can’t look at their record, anybody can beat anybody so you can’t get complacent,” said Racine of Mandan. “When you start moving up in the rankings, you kind of got a target on your back and people are going to give you their best go possible and so we have to be ready for that and show up and wrestle.”

In Fargo, the Magi will have one final chance to square off against programs hailing from the eastern region before the commencement of the state tournament next month. Minot’s main goal, in addition to gaining valuable insight on possible postseason opposition, will be to gain an early upper hand and perhaps plant a few seeds of intimidation in the hearts and minds of the easterly schools.

“We preach to our guys that you want to make them never want to wrestle you again,” Racine continued. “It makes a difference for them to go out and give their best performance and take care of business so when we get to see them again, hopefully they’re a little intimidated to wrestle us the second time around.”


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