Devils Lake Wrestling ended their season by taking their talents to the most important tournament of the season. The team came in focused from day one, looking to make their first step in the rebuilding process that started a couple years ago when the Devils Lake Wrestling team was on a two year probation and marked for elimination. The program defied all odds and bounced back into one of the most successful youthful teams out of all Class A teams.

Devils Lake Wrestling ended their season by taking their talents to the most important tournament of the season. The team came in focused from day 1, looking to make their first step in the rebuilding process that started a couple years ago when the Devils Lake Wrestling team was on a two year probation and marked for elimination. The program defied all odds and bounced back into one of the most successful youthful teams out of all Class A teams.

Devils Lake brought 13 wrestlers to compete at state, and converted half of that amount (six) into State placers. Firebirds Wrestling HC wanted to see the team come together and battle, and battle they did, as they came out into the first round and wrestled tough throughout the tournament. A tournament that started on Thursday and proceeded all the way through to Saturday. Brant Fisk (106) made huge strides with growth all season long and he knows after this weekend that this tournament will be the biggest jump for him. Wrestling hard all tournament he fell short of placements by one match. 

First round Fisk went up against Fargo South’s Jacob Thomas. Being ranked second going into the state tournament the young Fisk refused to let that get to him. Battling throughout the match Fisk would not let this formidable foe put him away via a fall. After showing great toughness Fisk unfortunately lost by tech fall in the second period.

Going into the first round of consolations Fisk then faced an unfamiliar face as West Fargo was able to sneak in a worthy contender into the tournament. Wrestling unattached for West Fargo, Tyler Porter an experienced 7th grader tested Fisk’s abilities. Being determined was all the Firebirds 106 pounder needed to win this match as they battled throughout. Fisk won via decision 6-2.

DLHS alum Jacob Clouse has been coaching at Grand Forks Central with many of the Knights youth, especially the lower weights and Fisk had faced Clouse’s prodigy in the second round of consolations. GF Central’s Tyson Gass had a year’s advantage on Fisk as he was able to put him away by fall in 2:23. Fisk was then eliminated from the tournament. 

Yes, it definitely is a bummer to be a victim of what’s famously known as the “heartbreak round” but the coaches know that going forward, the younger Fisk was going to be able to grow off of these experiences.

Sam Shomento (126) didn’t place, either, but besides not placing there was a lot to take out of his performances. Getting an unlucky draw for his opponent, he wrestled the first round of the tournament, Shomento was put up against the fifth ranked wrestler at 126. Wrestling Williston’s Dalton McKenzie, Shomento had great speed and good instincts the entire match. Shomento lasted all three periods but fell to one of Williston’s toughest wrestlers by major decision 12-0.

Head held high and expectations kept to the highest standards Shomento went into the first round of consolations bound and determined. Wrestling another sneaky unattached wrestler, Bismarck St. Mary’s Logan Weiler. Weiler showed little time by beating Shomento out of the tournament winning with a tech fall in the second period.

A lot of positives come out of losses, especially for Shomento. He has such great speed and natural skills or technique. Once Shomento is able to slow things down in his head and is able to analyze what’s going on in a match, Devils Lake is going to have a dangerous wrestler on their hands. Shomento has great drive to get better and better each match. So there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that if he keeps working hard the results will come.

Brayden Gerhardt (132) fell short in placements but he is still a part of Devils Lake young core. Gerhardt opened up the first championship round wrestling Bismarck High’s Jared Honeyman. Honeyman went into the tournament ranked eighth. Gerhardt showed him the definition of Devils Lake’s toughness as he wasn’t going down without a fight. Battling almost all three periods, Honeyman pinned Gerhardt in 5:39 to send Devils Lake’s 132 pounder to the consolation rounds.

Like Shomento, Gerhardt held his head high and didn’t dwell on the past match, just went out and wrestled facing Fargo Davies’ Ty Weber. Unfortunately Weber won the match by decision 8-1. This hard fought match resulted to the elimination of Gerhardt. Going forward head coach, Brenden Flynn, knows he has a tough wrestler in Gerhardt, as he had a very big year in taking the next step to being a serious opponent to the state’s top wrestlers.

Lance Hoffman (Unat. 145) completed a big step as he didn’t even qualify for state a season ago. Being relatively new to the sport of wrestling he is definitely a quick learner. Hoffman wrestled the top ranked wrestler at 145 in the first championship round. 

Bismarck High’s Devin Steidler boasted a 41-0 record but Hoffman wanted to display that he wasn’t afraid of name or  rank. Steidler went forth and put away Hoffman in the second period by fall 2:18. Hoffman was forced to consolations and Steidler went on and won the championship.

Hoffman went into the second round of consolations facing Fargo Davies’ Faustin Ndikumwenayo, a tough match up that resulted in Hoffman being pinned in 2:34. Hoffman definitely won’t bring these results with him going into next season as he knows he has great potential. He achieved a lot of goals despite only wrestling 24 matches.

James Fisk (145) was one of the most impressive competitors for the Firebirds last weekend. He opened up the championship round strong. Being unseeded he faced seventh seeded Brody Mohr. It was not a high scoring match but a lot of scrambles and back and forth action. Going into the third period the older Fisk was down 1-2 while both wrestlers were on their feet. Fisk was able to land a two-point takedown as the third period wound  down. Holding on to victory, Fisk advanced to the second championship round to only end up short by being pinned by Raif Horswill from Williston. Horswill was ranked second and only spent 1:45 against Fisk.

 

Regardless Fisk was rolling with confidence. Going into the second round of consolations Fisk was bound and determined to not rewrite the past as he lost out a season ago in the “heartbreak round”. Fisk wrestled Lance Hoffman’s first round foe, Faustin Ndikumwenayo, from Fargo Davies. The older Fisk made short work of Ndikumwenayo by pinning him in the third period (4:10).

Locking himself into placements, Fisk had a hard third and final day. He lost to Bismarck Century’s Clint Colemen by decision 7-2 and was  forced to wrestle for seventh place. The older Fisk went on to wrestle Mathew Meschke from Williston in placement rounds. A match that went down to the wire but didn’t go in the Firebirds favor. Fisk’s season was over after losing to Williston’s 145 pounder by decision 4-3. Leaving him to take home eighth at 145 in the Class A division.

Parker Vilandre (152) was an often spoken about wrestler, known for his toughness, strength and knowledge on the mat. Vilandre came right out of the gate in the first championship round of the tournament as a man on a mission by placing his dominance throughout the match with Fargo South’s Kevin Coyle. After stacking up his points Vilandre was able to put him away by pinning him in the third period (5:44).

He then went on to the quarter finals only to go against the top seeded Isaac Berger from Mandan. Having being tired after the first match you could tell Vilandre was a half step off. But Vilandre 100% would of gave Berger a run for his money.

Knocking him into the second round of consolations Vilandre then locked himself into placements by defeating West Fargo’s Spencer LeDoux (Dec. 3-1). This match was definitely to close for comfort, especially with so much on the line but Vilandre showed that he was there for one reason only. Vilandre was tasked with the job to wrestle Matthew Rader from Bismarck Century. Being a fifth seed in the tournament Rader knew nobody was going to get past him too easily. Vilandre battle through three periods to fall against Century’s better wrestlers.

Vilandre had the third day fatigue that really displayed in the last match. Having to wrestle the seventh seeds Christian Hanson from Bismarck St. Mary’s. This was a match to see as they went back and forth throughout the match. After the first two periods and the match concluded with both wrestlers on their feet and Vilandre trying to get a takedown as Hanson had an 8-7 advantage over the Firebird. Time ran out and Vilandre was unable to convert his last match of the season to a win as he lost 8-7. Taking home eighth place, Vilandre wasn’t unfamiliar with those results as he took home eighth two seasons ago.

Cody Bjornson (160) wrestled one of North Dakota’s toughest wrestlers in the first championship round. West Fargo’s Jared Franek is no stranger to the wrestling community. Bjornson went into the match knowing he was going to give it his all. Unfortunitely, Franek had other things on his mind as he put away Devils Lake’s 160 pounder in just 1:00.

Knocking Bjornson to the consolation rounds he was paired with another West Fargo wrestler, Michael Johnson an unattached wrestler with the rank of eighth going into the state tournament. Bjornson defied his rank and made quick work of his opponent via fall in just 2:52.

That moved Bjornson into the “heartbreak” round going up against Nolen Demery from Turtle Mountain. Demery showed a little more fight by pinning Bjornson in the first period 1:27. Bjornson, having been a senior, is unfortunately done for good. He made big strides as a wrestler and definitely has the character that he credits to his time with this group. Bjornson was a lot of fun to watch! Colby Rance (170) another standout wrestler for Devils Lake had a really well balanced tournament. He knew he had the skillset and tools to bring home some state hardware for the first time in his wrestling career. Looking like a junior or senior (but really a sophomore) due to his maturity and size, he went up against Brent Myers from Bismarck Legacy. Toying with him throughout the match, Rance proceeded to pin his opponent early in the third period 4:37.

Rance advanced to the quarter finals facing Bismarck High’s best in Parker Wahl. Rance put up a really good match against the top seed. He lost 7-1 but it was definitely a match that nobody wanted to miss. Rance was then knocked into the consolation rounds to follow his team. Rance was tasked with Tanner Jarrett. A Dickinson wrestler with well rounded game and plenty of experience definitely gave Rance a good battle. Rance was able to hold on the victory beating Jarrett by decision 3-1. 

Knowing he had guaranteed a placing spot, Rance still knew there was work to be done. Wrestling Branden Franchuk of Bismarck St. Mary’s a very active wrestler throughout the season as he wrestled over 50 matches just this season, Rance put up a fight but third day fatigue set in as Rance fell 5-10 after three periods.

Rance went on to wrestle for seventh place. The eighth seed Rance facing seventh seed from Turtle Mountain Levi LaFountain. Having been destined to wrestle due to ranks Rance was not letting the seeds decide the outcome as he was able to squeeze out a 3-2 victory to secure the seventh best wrestler in the state at 170 for Class A.

Luke Knowski (182) had been awarded the most exciting match (in my book) as it happened in the first round. Knowski had wrestled unproven wrestler Jorge Talamantes. Talamantes had a little over 20 matches wrestled all season so he was definitely a big question mark. A low scoring match, when the third period came around Knowski had been down 1-3 and being both on their feet the last 30 seconds, Knowski was able to score a two-point takedown and force overtime. Very suspenseful overtime leading to Knowski defending extremely well and able to spin around and get the two-point takedown to win.

Knowski went on to the quarterfinals and had wrestled Cade Pederson from West Fargo. Being the top seed in the tournament Pederson definitely showed a slight struggle in the amount of time it took for him to pin the Firebird 5:31. Sadly Knowski was forced to follow his teammates closely and proceeded to the consolation rounds.

Knowski had wrestled Joe Pacheco of Williston. A senior that really didn’t want to be a victom of the “heartbreak round”. Knowski had one thing on his mind and that was winning. Winning he did as he defeated Pacheco by major decision 13-3.

Following that round and the third day, Knowski showed his inexperience in making it to the day. As he wrestled ranked fifth wrestler from Mandan, Jacob Boehm. Boehm pinned Knowski in the first period 0:54 to force Knowski to wrestle for eighth like his teammates so far.

Robbie Serumgard (195) an unseeded wrestler that was trying to prove that rankings doesn’t mean anything, defied all the odds that were stacked against him. (Not a joke) Serumgard wrestled fifth ranked wrestler, the “notorious” Connor McGregor from Bismarck High. McGregor made quick work of Serumgard by pinning him early in the second round 2:54.

Serumgard fell into the first round of consolations and faced Fargo Davies’, Firas Omar. Serumgard wasted no time by pinning Firas in the first round 1:31. As if having a fire lit underneath him, Serumgard had one tough opponent to bet in order to place, sixth seed Danek Vega from Mandan. The Firebird went all three periods proving that unseeded doesn’t mean anything, beating Vega by decision 9-4 and locking himself into placements.

On the third day, Serumgard lost a nail biter to luck out on advancing to the fourth consolation round after being forced to wrestle for seventh. Serumgard did just that by beating another unseeded wrestler, Houston Visto of West Fargo who put up a good match but Serumgard’s fire was not about to be put out as he won 6-0.

George DeMarce, (220) being the second senior, was on a mission to prove himself. Being unseeded DeMarce upset the seventh seed in Grant Sullivan from GF Central winning 8-7. DeMarce advanced to the quarter finals and lost to second seeded Mandan wrestler Adam Boehm. Boehm pinned DeMarce in 4:42.

Dropping to the second round of consolations DeMarce was not done winning until he was forced to stop. DeMarce wrestled Dickson’s Garrett Usher as DeMarce ushered him out of the tournament. Pinning Usher in the second period 2:48 and guarenteeing placements.

DeMarce wrestled third seeded Riley Kringlie and sadly fell by pin 1:07. Being forced to wrestle for seventh DeMarce did just that as well as Rance. Wrestling fifth seeded Wyatt Willenbring DeMarce wanted to end his wrestling career on a high note, pinning in just 2:30. 

Shane Cavanaugh (285) having wrestled a lot of big kids all season long, wanted to take the next step in becoming a better wrestler. Unforunately, Cavanaugh was pinned in both matches which resulted in immediate elimination, but Coach Flynn has high hopes for his heavy weight going forward.

Even when I was a wrestler under HC (now) Brenden Flynn, he preached that he hoped to teach more than wrestling in his room. He wants everything in life to be able to translate into success with the same amount of hard work that his wrestlers put into this sport. It was a good year! Joey Good is the Graphics Manager for the Devils Lake Journal.