A pair of first-place performances from seniors Austin Schall and Joey Good propelled the Devils Lake wrestling team to a ninth-place finish at the Valley City Tournament last weekend.
Schall, team captain and unquestioned leader for the Firebirds, entered as the top seeded wrestler at 152 pounds, and his performance validated his position at the top of the bracket.
The Devils Lake senior won via technical fall over Valley City’s Christian Swenson 18-2 in the opening round. Schall then faced off against Aberdeen Central’s Braiden Nelson in the semifinal round, and he came out on top via decision, 9-5.
In the championship match, Schall found himself squared off against an EDC foe in Grand Forks Central’s Garrett Litzinger, but it proved to be an easy task for Schall, who strolled to a 12-4 major decision en route to an individual title.
Good also found his path to the 120-pound title with ease, evidenced by his first two victories of the tournament, which came via pin fall.
Good, who also entered the tournament as the top-seed in his weight class, pinned his first two opponents in a combined 2:35 to book his place in the championship match, which paired him up against Grand Forks Central’s Tyler Keener. Good bested Keener in the end, winning by a 10-6 decision.
Schall and Good were the only Devils Lake wrestlers to win their respective weight classes, but they weren’t the only Firebirds to place in the tournament. Senior heavyweight Kamron Matejcek, who took eighth in last year’s state tournament, also had a shot at a first-place finish in Valley City, but he had to settle for second after losing via major decision to Fargo Davies’ Hunter Swenson in the championship match, 10-2.
At the junior varsity level, Aiden Waide placed third at 285 pounds, giving the Firebirds their fourth individual honor of the weekend. Waide lost his opening round match to Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm opponent Josh Fastnacht by a narrow 4-2 decision, but he rebounded effectively with three consecutive victories in the consolation bracket, including a pin fall victory over Grafton’s Jorge Balderas in the third-place match.
Devils Lake head coach Todd Lambrecht has been pleased with his team’s progress over the course of the season, including his group’s ninth place finish in Valley City.
Of the 14 teams that competed in the tournament, seven brought more than 15 wrestlers to the mat, including champion Valley City (188 points). Fargo Davies, Wahpeton and Grand Forks Central each brought 23 wrestlers to the competition.
Devils Lake brought just 11 wrestlers to Valley City over the weekend, only seven of which were varsity competitors, yet they were still able to manage 66.5 team points. If the Firebirds had brought twice as many wrestlers and earned twice as many points, it would have seen the team’s final standing moved up to fifth.
Page 2 of 2 - The Firebirds will now have a few days off over the holiday break before resuming their schedule in Bismarck during the first weekend of the New Year, Jan. 3-4.