North Dakota high school girls hockey state tournament preview capsules

Bismarck vs. Dickinson, 11 a.m.

Bismarck (No. 1 seed)
Coach: Tim Meyer, first season
Record: 19-2-0, 17-0-0 North Dakota
State tournament history: 13th overall state tournament appearance with three state championships (2006, 2007, 2013). Lost to West Fargo 2-1 in the 2014 championship.
Top players: Britta Curl, Fr., F (32-15–47); Jesse Binstock, Sr., F (13-15–28); Sage Barta, Sr., F (11-16–27); Skylar Ackerman, eighth grade, G (0.59 GAA, 95.6 SP).

Dickinson (No. 8 seed)
Coach: Al Takle, second season
Record: 6-14-0, 6-11-0 North Dakota
State tournament history: Third overall state appearance and first since 2009.
Top players: Rachel Lantz, Sr., F (19-11–30); Kayla Wallace, Sr., F (7-14–21); Kira Zastoupil (13-3–16); Kelsey Gillen, Sr., G (5.18 GAA, 85.3 SP).

Fargo North-South vs. Minot, 1 p.m.

Fargo North-South (No. 4 seed)
Coach: Kris Dougherty, sixth season
Record: 9-11-3, 9-7-2 North Dakota
State tournament history: First state appearance as a co-op that was formed this season. North and South programs have combined to win seven state titles.
Top players: Anna Erickson, Fr., F (16-19–35); Graysen Myers, Fr., F (10-13–33); Kendra Johnson, Sr., F (12-17–29); Emily Grothmann, Sr., G (1.86 GAA, 93.5 SP).

Minot (No. 5 seed)
Coach: Weylin Wahlstrom, fourth season
Record: 14-9-0, 12-8-0 North Dakota
State tournament history: Qualfified for state 13 consecutive years.
Top players: Bryanna Bergeron, Soph., F (24-19–43); Mackinzy Maciver, Soph., F (16-23–39), Dessa Flom, seventh grade, F (11-10–21); Kinsey Hanson, Jr., F (13-8–21); Alex Nelson, Fr., G (2.71 GAA, 89.8 SP).

Grand Forks vs. Mandan, 5 p.m.

Grand Forks (No. 2 seed)
Coach: Alex Hedlund, first season
Record: 16-6-1, 16-2-1 North Dakota
State tournament history: Qualified for 13 state tournaments and has played in championship game three times.
Top players: Peyton LeNoir, Jr., F (14-16–30), Tori Christian 15-13–28); Bailee Enlow, Jr., F (10-14–24); Katie Rodningen, Soph., F (9-15–24); Abby Schauer, eighth grade, F (11-13–24); Jerrica Rosendahl, Sr., G (1.75 GAA, 93.5 SP).

Mandan (No. 7 seed)
Coach: DeWitt Mack, fifth season
Record: 10-11-0, 9-9-0 North Dakota
State tournament history: Second straight state appearance after qualifying for the first tourney in 2014.
Top players: Mariah Marsh, Jr., F (19-7–26); Rebecca Helbling, Jr., F (10-13–23); Maiah McCowan, Soph., F (9-9–18); Paige Lillis, Jr., D (8-10–18); Chelsey Norton, Jr., G (4.09 GAA, 86.5 SP).

West Fargo vs. Fargo Davies, 7 p.m.

West Fargo (No. 3 seed)
Coach: Pat Johnson, eighth season
Record: 15-7-1, 14-3-1 North Dakota
State tournament history: Eighth state tournament appearance. West Fargo defeated Bismarck 2-1 in the 2014 state championship game and won one other championship (2010).
Top players: Janey Sandoval, Soph., F (34-35–69); Anna Promersberger, Fr., F (20-13–33); Madison Nelson, Sr., F (4-17–21); Courtney Walsh, Fr., D (11-8–19); Morgan Stirling (1.28 GAA, 94.6 SP).

 

Fargo Davies (No. 6 seed)
Coach: Josh Issertell, first season at Davies
Record: 10-11-2, 8-9-2 North Dakota
State tournament history: Qualified for the 2013 and 2014 state tournaments as a co-op team with Fargo South and is making its third overall appearance.
Top players: Annika Mogck, Soph., F (21-9–30); Kylie Schafer, Fr., F (17-7–24); Megan Lorenz, Jr., F (13-11–24); Sydney Peterson, Fr., G (3.30 GAA, 87.2 SP).

- Compiled by Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

North Dakota boys hockey state tournament preview capsules

Below are the quarterfinals matchups of the 2015 North Dakota state boys hockey tournament played at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

Grand Forks Central vs. Mandan, noon

Grand Forks Central (East Region No. 1 seed)
Coach: Grant Paranica, second year
Record: 19-4-1, 12-1-1 East Region
Road to state tournament: Beat Fargo North 4-0 in East Region quarterfinals and Fargo Davies 1-0 in semifinals. Topped Devils Lake 4-1 in title game.
State tournament history: 48th state tournament appearance with a record 25 state championships. Last title came in 2010.
Top players: Grant Johnson, Soph., F (15-23–38); Tarek Paranica (15-23–38); Nick Lund, Soph., F (15-14–29); Cole Kirchoffner, Sr., F (13-16–29); Taner Bender, Sr., G (1.77 GAA, 91.9 SP).

Mandan (West Region No. 4 seed)
Coach: Matt Mullally, second season
Record: 13-9-1, 8-7-1 West Region
Road to state tournament: Defeated Jamestown 3-2 in the West Region quarterfinals and lost to Bismarck 5-1 in semifinals. Beat Bottineau-Rugby 7-6 in a state qualifying game.
State tournament history: Second straight appearance; five trips to state overall.
Top players: Trever Leingang, Sr., F (11-20–31); Aric Riopelle, Sr., D (8-18–26); Garrett Murphy, Jr., F (13-10–23); Colton Murphy, Sr., (12-10–22); Sawyer Schmidt, Soph., 2.97 GAA, 89.8 SP).

Bismarck vs. Grand Forks Red River, 2 p.m.

Bismarck (West Region No. 2 seed)
Coach: Mike Peluso, seventh year
Record: 19-5-0, 11-2-0 West Region
Road to state tournament: Defeated Williston 6-1 in West Region quarterfinals and Mandan 5-1 win in ssemifinals. Lost 2-0 to Bismarck Century in region title game.
State tournament history: 32 state tournament appearances. Beat Grand Forks Central 2-1 last year for first state championship.
Top players: Cullen Irey, Jr., F (12-29–41); Eric Pladsen, Soph., F (17-19–36); T.J. Irey, Soph., F (22-7–29); Riley Holwenger. Sr., F (21-5–26); Hunter Lauer, Jr., G (2.10 GAA, 91.0 SP).

Grand Forks Red River (East Region No. 3 seed)

Coach: Bill Chase, sixth year
Record: 18-5-1, 11-2-1 East Region
Road to state tournament: Beat Grafton-Park River 3-1 in East Region quarterfinals and lost 3-1 to Devils Lake in the semifinals. Beat West Fargo 3-0 win in state-qualifying game.
State tournament history: 47th state tournament appearance with 16 state championships – the most recent in 2013.
Top players: Logan Montogomery, Sr., F, (6-21–27); Max Miller, Jr., F (10-16–16); Tony Haley, Jr., F (15-9–24); Eric Leach, Sr., F (11-13–24); Jon DeBeltz (1.72 GAA, 92.0 SP).

Bismarck Century vs. Fargo South-Shanley, 6 p.m.

Bismarck Century (West Region No. 1 seed)
Coach: Troy Olson, 10th year
Record: 21-3-0, 12-2-0 West Region
Road to state tournament: Beat Dickinson 5-4 in West Region quarterfinals and Minot 2-1 in double-overtime in the semifinals. Topped Bismarck 2-0 in title game.
State tournament history: 17th state appearance, qualifying last nine seasons.
Top players: Keaton Leininger, Sr., F (22-23–45); Jacob Huber, Sr., F (13-21–34); Alex Flicek, Sr., F (18-16–34); Max Barta, Sr., G (1.88 GAA, 92.0 SP); Wyatt Bonnell, Jr., G (1.88 GAA, 90.9 SP).

Fargo South-Shanley (East Region No. 4 seed)
Coach: Wade Storey, fourth season
Record: 12-12-0, 8-6-0 East Region
Road to state tournament: Lost to Devils Lake 5-3 in East Region quarterfinals but bounced back with a 4-3 overtime win over Grafton-Park River and a 3-2 overtime win over Fargo Davies.
State tournament history: South-Shanley co-op team making second straight state appearance. Prior to the co-op forming in 2010-11, South qualified for 36 times and Shanley made it 11 times. South has won three state championships (1994, 1999 and 2006).
Top players: Tyler Bossert, Sr., F (23-28–51); Riley Giauque, Jr., F (18-24–42); Luke Sandy 11-17–28); Jack Olson, Jr., G (3.00 GAA, 88.3 SP).

Devils Lake vs. Minot, 8 p.m.

Devils Lake (East Region No. 2 seed)
Coach: Jens Stokke, first season
Record: 12-11-1, 4-9-1 East Region
Road to state tournament: Beat South-Shanley 5-3 win in East Region quarterfinals and upset Grand Forks Red River 3-1 in semifinals. Lost to Grand Forks Central 4-1 in title game.
State tournament history: Devils Lake is making its 32nd state tournament appearance.
Top players: Ryyan Reule, Soph., F (9-16–25); Chris Dahlen, Sr., F (13-9–22); Cole Thompson, Soph. 8-13–21); Holden Kurtz, Sr., G (2.45 GAA, 91.8 SP).

Minot (West Region No. 3 seed)
Coach: John Grubb and Jason Bennett, first season
Record: 15-8-1, 11-2-1 West Region
Road to state tournament: Beat Bottineau-Rugby 6-0 in West Region quarterfinals before suffering a 2-1 double-overtime loss to Bismarck Century in the semifinals. Defeated Jamestown 8-4 in state qualifying game.
State tournament history: 33 appearances. Reached state title game three times (1985, 1989 and 1992). Only one of two teams from West Region to ever win a state championship (1992).
Top players: Matt Flom, Sr., F (25-18–43); Easton Bennett, Soph., D (7-17–24); Brent Williams, Sr., F (13-9–22); Breydan Effertz, Sr., G (1.84 GAA, 92.3 SP.

- Compiled by Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

 

History of North Dakota boys hockey state tournament (Part 1)

FARGO – Below is a list of the past champions and championship game scores for the last 54 boys hockey state tournaments. The North Dakota High School Activities Association began sponsoring boys hockey in 1966-67 school year. The tournament has been dominated by Grand Forks schools since its inception. Grand Fork Central won the first 13 boys hockey state championships and has won a total of 25 state titles (six as a member of the Northeast Hockey Conference and 19 NDHSAA-sponsored titles). Grand Forks Red River has won a total of 16 state championships.

PAST CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS NORTH DAKOTA BOYS HOCKEY

* NOTE: Competition of boys hockey in the state of North Dakota begins in 1960-61 season. That is the first year a state tournament was known to be played. Teams played in what was known as the Northeast Hockey Conference.

1960-61: Grand Forks Central (no score available)
1961-62: Grand Forks Central (no score available)
1962-63: Grand Forks Central (no score available)
1963-64: Grand Forks Central (no score available)
1964-65: Grand Forks Central (no score available)
1965-66: Grand Forks Central (no score available)

* NOTE: NDHSAA begins fully sponsoring the boys hockey in the 1966-67 season after a trial period that last one year (1965-66). The 1967 state tournament at Grand Forks was the sport’s seventh overall state tournament played in North Dakota, but the first tournament as a fully NDHSAA-sponsored sport.

1966-67: Grand Forks Central 7, Fargo North 0
1967-68: Grand Forks Central 5, Grand Forks Red River 0
1968-69: Grand Forks Central 3, Grand Forks St. James 2
1969-70: Grand Forks Central 11, Fargo North 0
1970-71: Grand Forks Central 2, Fargo South 0
1971-72: Grand Forks Central 6, Fargo South 1
1972-73: Grand Forks Central 2, Grafton 1
1973-74: Grand Forks Red River 2, Fargo North 1
1974-75: Grand Forks Central 3, Grand Forks Red River 2
1975-76: Grand Forks Central 3, Grand Forks Red River 2
1976-77: TIE Grand Fork Central 1, Grand Forks Red River 1 (8 OT)
1977-78: Grafton 9, Fargo North 3
1978-79: Grand Forks Central 4, Grafton 3
1979-80: Grand Forks Central 3, Fargo North 2
1980-81: Fargo North 7, Fargo South 2
1981-82: Fargo North 2, Grand Forks Red River 1
1982-83: Grand Forks Central 6, Grand Forks Red River 5
1983-84: Grand Forks Central 6, Grafton 1
1984-85: Grafton 4, Minot 2
1985-86: Fargo North 5, Grand Forks Red River 4
1986-87: Grand Forks Red River 3, Grand Forks Central 1
1987-88: Grand Forks Red River 6, Fargo North 1
1988-89: Grand Forks Red River 2, Minot 1
1989-90: Grand Forks Red River 1, Grand Central 0 (2 OT)
1990-91: Grafton-Park River 4, Grand Forks Central 3
1991-92: Minot 8, Bismarck 7
1992-93: Grand Forks Central 6, Grafton-Park River 2
1993-94: Fargo South 4, Grand Forks Central 2
1994-95: Grand Forks Central 7, Grafton-Park River 0
1995-96: Grand Forks Red River 4, Grafton-Park River 2
1996-97: Grand Forks Red River 2, Grand Forks Central 1
1997-98: Grand Forks Red River 4, Fargo North 1
1998-99: Fargo South 2, Grand Forks Red River 1 (OT)
1999-00: Grand Forks Red River 1, Grafton-Park River 0
2000-01: Grand Forks Red River 2, Fargo North (5 OT)
2001-02: Grafton-Park-River 6, Grand Forks Central 2
2002-03: Grand Forks Central 5, Grand Forks Red River 0
2003-04: Grand Forks Central 3, Fargo South 2
2004-05: Grand Forks Red River 3, Grand Forks Central 0
2005-06: Fargo South 2, Grand Forks Red River 1
2006-07: Grand Forks Red River 3, Fargo South 1
2007-08: Grafton-Park River 3, Grand Forks Red River 2 (3OT)
2008-09: Grand Forks Red River 3, Bismarck 2
2009-10: Grand Forks Central 3, Bismarck 0
2010-11: Grand Forks Red River 3, Grafton-Park River 0
2011-12: Fargo North 3, Grafton-Park River 2 (2OT)
2012-13: Grand Forks Red River 7, Grafton-Park River 1
2013-14: Bismarck 2, Grand Forks Central 1

TITLE-GAME APPEARANCES (INCLUDING YEARS 1967-2014 ONLY)

Grand Forks Central (27): 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2014

Grand Forks Red River (26): 1968, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013

Grand Forks St. James (1): 1969

Fargo North (12): 1967, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1998, 2001, 2012

Fargo South (8): 1971, 1972, 1981, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007

Grafton (5): 1973, 1978, 1979, 1984, 1985

Grafton-Park River (10): 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2011, 2012 2013

Minot (3): 1985, 1989, 1992

Bismarck (4): 1992, 2009, 2010, 2014

STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Grand Forks Central (25): 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, *1977, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1993, 1995, 2003, 2004, 2010

Grand Forks Red River (16): 1974, *1977, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013

Fargo North (4): 1981, 1982, 1986, 2012

Fargo South (3): 1994, 1999, 2006

Grafton-Park River (3): 1991, 2002, 2008

Grafton (2): 1978, 1985

Minot (1): 1992

Bismarck (1): 2014

NOTE: A state boys hockey tournament was played from 1961-1966 prior to the sport becoming a sponsored sport by the North Dakota High School Activities Association. Those years appear in italics. No title-game scores were available from those years.

* –  The 1977 state championship was shared between Grand Forks central and Grand Forks Red River after both schools played to a 1-1 tie following eight overtime periods.

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

CLASS A TAKEDOWNS: Bismarck leads team individual race after Day 1

Bismarck, defending Class A team individual state champions, lead the team individual race after Day 1 with 113 points. … West Fargo is in second with 103.5 points. … The Packers have nine wrestlers that advanced to the semifinals set for approximately 5 p.m. today. … “I thought we wrestled well,” Dangerud said. “A few matches got away from us. We know we are going to have to score a lot points in the wrestlebacks and I expect our guys to do that.” … Fargo Davies is eighth with 33.5 points. … Fargo South is tied for ninth with 33 points. … Fargo North is in 16th with 13 points. … West Fargo senior Jordan Shearer – a five-time state champion – pinned teammate Cade Pederson in 35 seconds during the Class A 145-pound quarterfinals. … Shearer is now 32-1 this season and owns a 255-21 all-time record. He is attempting to become the first ever high school wrestler to win six individual state championships. … The Demons advance 10 scoring wrestlers into the individual semifinals.

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

CLASS A WRESTLING NOTE: Grand Forks Central wins first ever dual match at state tournament

FARGO – The Grand Forks Central wrestling team posted a program first Thursday at the 2015 North Dakota High School wrestling tournament.

The Knights defeated Turtle Mountain 39-33 in the Class A team dual quarterfinals at the Fargodome marking the first time the team has ever won a dual at the state tournament.

“We have qualified for the dual tournament several times over the years, but never have been able to get out of that first round,” Grand Forks Central Matt Berglund said. “That was our main team goal we made at the beginning of the season. We wanted to win that first match at state and that was our focus all year. I’m just so proud of the guys. Turtle Mountain has so much talent. We were just able to win some key matches.”

Central (17-9) opened the tournament seeded No. 2 from the East Region and now advances to wrestle West Region top-seed Bismarck in the semifinals at approximately 1 p.m. today. The Class A team dual championship match is set for 7 p.m. today.

The Knights got off to a torrid pace in the dual picking up four pins in the first five matches include one in the opening bout courtesy of senior Brandon Hanson at 132 pounds.

Central scored a total of six pins in the match.

Other Knights to record pins included senior Jesus Flores (145 pounds), junior Bryce Brandon (152), sophomore Gordon Isler (160), freshman Carson Williams (106) and sophomore Carlos Belboa (120).

“Everybody stepped up,” said Berglund, who has coaches the Knights for 17 seasons. “We knew there was going to be some toss-up matches in the middle weight classes. The key matches for us were at 152 and 160 pounds and we got pins in each of those. Those were huge wins for us.”

The Class A and Class B team dual tournaments originated in the 1999-2000 season. In the previous 15 seasons, Central had qualified for the dual tournament five times (2014, 2012, 2011, 2004 and 2003).

A year ago, the Knights dropped its state quarterfinals dual with Bismarck Century 36-30.

“Everything from this point on to be honest is gravy,” Berglund said. “We wanted to get in the top four as team and get as many placers as possible in the individual tournament.”

Bismarck (15-0) defeated Wahpeton 57-13.

In other quarterfinals action, Bismarck Century (14-7) defeated Fargo Davies 49-27 and East Region top-seeded West Fargo (19-2) defeated Minot 53-17.

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

 

State wrestling features several 2014 champions returning to add to trophy cases

FARGO – The North Dakota high school state wrestling tournament kicks off in about 30 minutes. Here is a list of returning champions in Class A and Class B from the 2014 tournament last year in Bismarck.

Action at the Fargodome kicks off at 10 a.m. with Class A team duals and the first round of the Class B individual tournament.

Here is a list of 2014 champions returning this season:

CLASS A:

  1. Dillon Spaulding, Jr., Bismarck – won the 106-pound championship in 2013-14. Spaulding is seeded No. 1 at 113 pounds this season. Spaulding owns a 34-2 record this season.
  1. Tate Barnhardt, Sr., Bismarck St. Mary’s – won the 126-pound championship in 2013-14. Barnhardt is the No. 1 seed at 132 pounds this season. Barnhardt is 27-2 this season.
  1. Jordan Shearer, Sr., West Fargo – won the 132-pound championship in 2013-14. Shearer is seeded No. 1 at 138 pounds this season. Shearer is 29-1 this season. NOTE: Shearer is attempting to become the first wrestler in state history to win six individual state championships. Shearer owns a career record of 252-21 and is the winningest wrestler in state history.
  1. Adam Blees, Sr., Bismarck – won the 145-pound championship in 2013-14. Blees is seeded the No. 1 seed at 152-pounds this season and owns a 35-3 record.

CLASS B:

  1. Ethan Elijah, Soph., Lisbon – won the 106-pound title in 2013-14. Elijah is seeded No. 3 at 113 pounds this season. Elijah is 32-9 this season.
  1. Luke Hastings, Soph., Hillsboro-Central Valley – won the 126-pound title in 2013-14. Hastings is seeded No. 2 at 138 pounds this season. Hastings is 33-6 this season.
  1. Erik Loepp, Sr., Oakes – won the 132-pound title in 2013-14. Loepp is seeded No. 1 at 138 pounds this season. Loepp is 36-2 this season. NOTE: Loepp is trying to become the fifth wrestler in state history to win five individual state championships. The only other wrestlers to win five are: Dave Hilliard (Lakota), Levi Haugen (Minot Ryan), Scott Glasser (Bismarck) and Jordan Shearer (West Fargo).
  1. Jaron Lunday, Sr., Grafton – won the 145-pound title in 2013-14. Lunday is seeded No. 2 at 152 pounds this season. Lunday is 32-2 this season.
  1. Matthew Gross, Sr., Napoleon – won the 182-pound title in 2013-14. Gross is seeded No. 1 at 195 pounds this season. Gross is 32-3 this season.
  1. Nicholas Becker, Sr., Napoleon – won the 195-pound title in 2013-14. Becker is seeded No. 1 at 220 pounds this season. Becker is 34-1 this season.
  1. Michael Kelly, Jr., Oakes – won the 285-pound title in 2013-14. Kelly is seeded No. 1 at 285 pounds this season. Kelly is 35-1 this season. His only loss came in the Rumble on the Red 285-pound final.

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

Dedication post to Gary Larson, my uncle and one of the best high school wrestling reporters in MN history

Image

FARGO – One the eve of the North Dakota high school state wrestling tournament I’m writing a blog post to honor my uncle Gary Larson.

His name might not be well known in these parts, but the reason I’m writing this post is to dedicate my prep wrestling coverage this weekend to the memory of my uncle Gary, who passed away March 2, 2014.

Gary Larson, left, talks with longtime Milaca high school wrestling coach Randy Zimmer before a wrestling dual.

Gary Larson, left, talks with longtime Milaca high school wrestling coach Randy Zimmer before a wrestling dual.

Gary – my mother’s oldest brother – was a great man, who knew his wrestling. He grew up in Foley, Minn., which has long been a community that supports high school wrestling.

Gary was generous to anyone he met. He was approachable and made friends quick. His sense of humor and one-liners could get a room or car load of people laughing to beat the band. His voice was one that was meant to tell stories and his mustache was one that would get Western movie star Sam Elliott to tip his cowboy hat in approval.

After serving as the sports editor of The St. Cloud Times for many years, Gary took a job running the Mille Lacs County Times – a weekly community newspaper – that covered everything in the town of Milaca, Minn., and surrounding areas.

While in Milaca, Gary became an expert on the history of Milaca High School sports and covered them better than anyone. That was his backyard and he knew everything going on in it. If a basketball player was nearing 1,000 career points he was there to take a photo of the milestone. If a swimmer qualified for state he wrote a feature and traveled to the Twin Cities to cover the state meet.

He did everything well, but the one thing he did better than anyone around was report on high school wrestling.

Milaca has a strong prep wrestling tradition, and Gary chronicled it in the pages of the County Times. The week of state wrestling he would devote two full pages full of photos and bios of each wrestler for the Wolves.

When Milaca wrestled Foley in the regular season each year, Gary would be at the dual taking photos and writing down all the details. He could tell you the lineup of every Foley-Milaca dual the last 30-plus years and was a master story teller of that rivalry.

Covering the Minnesota state wrestling tournament was one of his favorite assignments of the year and I thought it fitting to share my thoughts about him as that event approaches on the prep sports calendar.

The 2014 Minnesota state wrestling tournament was one of the last things Gary covered for the County Times before he passed away.

As a prep sports reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, I cover high school wrestling in the state of North Dakota and every time I cover a dual or a tournament I end up thinking of Gary.

I miss him.

He knew how to tell a story and was a master at conversation. The last time I saw him was at my parents’ house for Super Bowl 48. It was a great night. The game was a blowout, but that gave us plenty of time to catch up on different topics. Our conversations always got around to the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota Vikings and pro wrestling.

I specifically remember him congratulating me on my recent honor of being named North Dakota Sportswriter of the Year and coming from him that meant the world.

I’m glad we were able to talk so much that night. The game had been over nearly two hours and Gary was still talking with me, my brother, my sister, my parents and my aunt Karen. He never worried too much about the time and that to be honest it is a trademark of the Larson family.

Gary played a huge role in me wanting to become a journalist. He always gave great career advice and had a knack for always being right.

Simply put, I can say with 100 percent certainty that I would not be where I am at today without him.

So as wrestlers from across the region hit the mats I’ll of course be thinking of Gary.

One of the lasting images I will always have of Gary is him sitting mat side with his camera and notepad at the ready.

He was the best.

North Dakota boys hockey region tournament pairings finalized

FARGO – The North Dakota East and West Region boys hockey tournament pairings have been finalized. Grand Forks central in the No. 1 seed from the East Region and Bismarck is the No. 1 seed from the West Region.

Tournament action kicks off tomorrow out west when Beulah-Hazen hosts Williston in a play-in game to determine who will play Bismarck in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck.

The East Region tournament begins Tuesday with four quarterfinals matchups hosted at the highest seed. Two of the quarterfinals will be hosted in the metro area as West Fargo hosts Fargo Davies and Fargo South-Shanley hosts Devils Lake.

Below are the region tournament pairings:

East Region
Tuesday
Quarterfinals
At highest seed
1) No. 8 Fargo North at No. 1 Grand Forks Central, 4:30 p.m.
2) No. 5 Fargo Davies at No. 4 West Fargo, 7 p.m.
3) No. 7 Grafton-Park River at No. 2 Grand Forks River, 7 p.m.
4) No. 6 Devils Lake at No. 3 Fargo South-Shanley, 7 p.m.
Friday
At Purpur Arena
Consolation semifinals
5) Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, noon
6) Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 30 min. after Game 5
Semifinals
7) Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
8) Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 30 min. after Game 7
Saturday
At Purpur Arena
State-qualifiers
9) Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, noon
10) Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 2:30 p.m.
Championship
11) Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner 5 p.m.

West Region
Today
Play-in game
No. 9 Williston at No. 8 Hazen-Beulah, 7 p.m.
Thursday
Quarterfinals
At VFW Sports Center, Bismarck
1) No. 1 Bismarck vs. play-in game winner, 11 a.m.
2) No. 4 Jamestown vs. No. 5 Mandan, 30 min. after Game 1
3) No. 2 Bismarck Century vs. No. 7 Dickinson, 5 p.m.
4) No. 3 Minot vs. No. 6 Bottineau-Rugby, 30 min. after Game 3
Friday
Consolation semifinals
5) Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 11 a.m.
6) Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 30 min. after Game 5
Semifinals
7) Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5 p.m.
8) Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 30 min. after Game 7
Saturday
State qualifiers
9) Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 11 a.m.
10) Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 30 min. after Game 9
Championship
11) Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 30 min. after Game 10

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

East Region wrestling recap, pair of Wahpeton grapplers win big

VALLEY CITY, N.D. – The 2015 North Dakota East Region wrestling tournament is in the books and I figured I post a quick blog post over the weekend to get to a couple of things I didn’t get to print edition of The Forum.

First I just want to convey it was an action packed meet that had plenty of storylines throughout the day and that is always great for sports reporters like myself.

I wanted to start this post with a quick recap.

Here were some of the highlights in case you missed them yesterday on inforum.com and today in the print edition:

1) West Fargo Jordan Shearer won his sixth East Region individual state championship with a win at 145-pounds. Next week he’ll be going for his sixth individual state championship, which no prep wrestler has ever done in state history.

2) Speaking of history, Shearer broke the North Dakota Class A and overall state record for wins at the East Region tournament. He pinned teammate Cade Pederson in the 145-pound semifinals for career win No. 251 breaking the previous record of 250 set by 2014 Bismarck graduate Ryan Blees, who now wrestles at Oklahoma State. Shearer is now owns a 252-21 career record. I shot video of the record breaking match. The video is posted on inforum.com

3) West Faro won its sixth straight East Region championship advancing 11 wrestlers to the finals and claiming wins in seven of the 14 weight classes. In total the Packers racked up 310 points. Wahpeton took second with 192 points.

4) Fargo South had three wrestlers – Jonathan Fraase (113), Logan Rhode (170), Jake Solem (195) – win East Region titles. The Bruins trio all were top seeds in their respective weight classes and now await the state tournament which begins Thursday at the Fargodome.

OK, now that we are all up to speed here are a couple of things I’m catching up on:

1) Awards for outstanding senior wrestler and coach of the year were handed out after the team awards ceremony. Shearer won senior outstanding wrestler honors and Grand Forks Central head coach Matt Berglund was named East Region coach of the year.

2) In my takedowns portion of my print story I denoted that two Wahpeton grapplers – freshman Gavin LeNoue (126) and senior Jacob Berg (132) – each took home East Region titles for the Huskies. I interviewed both wrestlers after their final matches Saturday and here is what they had to say:

LeNoue, who was the top seed in the 126-pound weight class, pinned Fargo Davies sophomore Alex Skaare in 51 seconds to claim his first ever East region individual championship.

“I tried my best,” LeNoue said. “The other time I wrestled (Skaare) this season I pinned him in the third period. I worked pretty hard for it.”

Wahpeton wrestles in the team dual tournament next week, and LeNoue also will have to deal with a very West-heavy 126-pound bracket.

LeNoue was ranked No. 5-ranked wrestler at 126 in the state in the latest coaches poll in front of him are four wrestlers from the West Region and the top of that list is Bismarck’s Taylor Nein (state runner up at 113-pounds a year ago) and Dickinson’s Austin Hutzenbiler (state runner up at 120 pounds a year ago).

“I feel way more confident about state based on my finals match,” LeNoue said. “I know I can compete with the best wrestlers in the state.”

LeNoue is 26-9 this season.

Senior teammate Jacob Berg improved his record to 33-7 Saturday with a 10-0 major decision over Grand Forks Central senior Brandon Hanson in the 132-pound final.

“It was my first region championship and my last one too,” Berg said following the match. “This and the state championship are things I have been working towards this year.”

Like LeNoue, Berg will be in a tough bracket next week in Fargo. Berg was ranked third in the state in last week’s coaches poll behind Mandan’s Brandon Zachmeier (second) and Bismarck St. Mary’s Tate Barnhardt (first). Barnhardt won the 126-pound title last year.

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM

 

 

Final North Dakota Class B District 2 girls basketball tournament begins tomorrow

FARGO – The final North Dakota Class B, District 2 girls basketball tournament will begin Friday at the Fargo Civic Center. Next year teams in Region 1 – made up Class B schools that currently make up District 1 and District 2 – are transitioning to a Super-Region tournament format for volleyball, and boys and girls basketball.

On the eve of the final District 2 girls basketball tournament I offer a few storylines to keep an eye on this weekend and on Monday night when the tournament concludes.

First, below are the pairings of the tournament:

Class B, District 2
At Fargo Civic Center

Friday
1) No. 4 Richland vs. No. 5 Fargo Oak Grove, 4:30 p.m.
2) No. 2 Maple Valley vs. No. 7 Northern Cass, 20 min after Game 1
3) No. 3 Central Cass vs. No. 6 Enderlin, 20 min. after Game 2

Saturday
4) Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 4:30 p.m.
5) No. 1 Kindred vs. Game 1 winner, 20 min. after Game 4
6) Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 20 min. after Game 5

Monday
Region qualifiers
7) Game 1 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 4:30 p.m.
8) Game 5 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 20 min. after Game 7
Championship
9) Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 20 min after Game 8.

The Kindred Vikings are the No. 1-seeded team and with the district re-alignment that Class B went under this school year there, District 2 went from eight to seven teams.

With the seven team field, Kindred earned a first-round bye.

I covered Kindred’s District 2 regular season finale win against Maple Valley last week and head coach Perry Piatz said it will be different not playing first day of the tournament.

Below are a couple of story lines to track throughout the weekend:

1. Balanced Vikings are the favorites

Kindred is 19-0 and ranked No. 2 in North Dakota Class B. The Vikings are one of only two girls basketball teams in the state that are undefeated, the other being North Dakota Class A, No. 1-ranked Fargo Shanley.

I have covered the Kindred girls basketball team twice this season and in each game the Vikings displayed a balanced offense. Kindred is deep and Piatz said that’s led to many victories for his squad this season.

Kindred had 10 players score in its regular season win against Thompson and nine players score against Maple Valley.

If The Vikings win Saturday, they will be guaranteed a spot in the Region 1 tournament, which is set for Feb. 23-24 and 26 at the Fargo Civic Center.

Kindred last qualified for the state tournament in 2012.

2. Maple Valley’s Nudell continues to climb the state’s scoring list

Maple Valley junior Rylee Nudell has scored 522 points this season and has 2,461 career points.

Nudell currently sits in sixth place all-time on North Dakota’s unofficial girls basketball scoring list and could climb a couple more spots on the list before the season concludes. No official data is kept in regards to high school boys and girls basketball in the state of North Dakota, but the figures I use in this post are taken from the annual North Dakota Hoopster magazine.

Maple Valley junior Rylee Nudell has scored 2,461 points in her prep basketball career. Forum file photo

Here is a look at where Nudell ranks and who she is chasing:

NORTH DAKOTA UNOFFICIAL SCORING LIST

1. Tanya Fischer (Bowman) 3,148 points from 1989-1993
2. Laura Hummel (Hague) 2,809 points from 1974-1979
3. Lynette Mund (Milnor) 2,625 points from 1986-1990
4. Rachel Otto (New Rockford) 2,542 points from 1987-1992
5. Whitney Meier (Rolla) 2,496 points points from 1981-1985
6. Rylee Nudell (Maple Valley) 2,461 points from 2011-present

Nudell is averaging 27.5 points per game for the Raiders.

 

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at tmix@forumcomm.com. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM