KENMARE — Eight high school wrestlers will represent the Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central Honkers in the state Class B Wrestling Tournament including two wrestlers seeded second and third in the tournament. Everyone of them has a shot of placing, according to their head coach.
Danny Mogren, who has been at the helm here for 19 years, sees one of his stronger groups of individuals heading to the Fargodome. He has one senior, four juniors, two freshmen, and an eighth grader.
Paul Melin is the eighth grader and he will be wrestling at 113 pounds. Melin, who is 17-5, will open against Jace Anderson, 41-5 from Killdeer. Melin finished fourth in the Region 3 tournament.
Freshman William Cook, who wrestles at 126 pounds, is already an old pro at this state tournament gig. He placed in both of the past two years. At 33-12, Cook will be wrestling Hettinger senior Peyton Tuhy, who is 26-5. Cook also placed fourth in the Region 3 competition last weekend at Minot Ryan.
Freshman Timothee Ford, 22-3, checks in at 138 pounds. His first-round opponent is freshman Emery Noll, 23-17 of Bowman County. Ford took the Region 3 championship and is seeded third in the state tournament.
Diontrea Anderson is another Honker wrestler with a lot of experience. Anderson, 21-10, who is a junior, wrestles at 152 pounds and matches up against junior Ty Wolding of New Salem, who is 22-3. He finished third in Region 3.
Maverick Ford, also a junior, takes a 21-6 record into the state tournament. He will open against senior Ashton Frei of Killdeer at 25-19. The elder Ford is seeded fifth at state.
Andrew Christensen wrestles at 182 pounds. He missed about a month of the season because of COVID, but he’s had plenty of time to get his form back, according to Mogren. Christensen, a 14-5 junior, wrestles senior Seth Wolf of South Border (Wishek and Ashley) who is 4-3. Christensen took second at region and has worked hard enough to earn a No. 2 seeding at state.
Junior Jaxson Holter enters his second straight state tournament at 195 pounds. Holter, 27-11, will dual Carrington’s Callen Garber at 25-18. Garber is a freshman. Holter finished third at Minot Ryan and is seeded No. 7 going into Fargodome.
Finally, Xylis Holter, the lone senior, wrestles at 220 pounds. Holter, 24-3, takes on Perrin Johnson, a 3-7 junior from Kindred. Holter completed the regional tournament in second place and has a No. 4 seeding when he meets Johnson.
The wrestlers have earned their trip to the state Class B and Mogren says there’s a reason why. He said Cook, although a freshman, knows how to handle the pressure of the state tournament. This will be Cook’s third consecutive state competition.
Timothee Ford is an excellent wrestler just like his brothers, Maverick and Skylar, who was an outstanding Honker grappler and is now an assistant coach. Mogren said Ford is virtually unstoppable physically and if he can keep Ford’s mind focused, he’ll do very well.
Anderson has been on the Honkers’ mat a long time. He has five years experience, including state competition. Mogren wouldn’t expect anything less from Anderson than a semifinal, but says it’s time for Anderson to finish high on the podium.
Maverick Ford is a solid competitor, according to Mogren. He doesn’t let anything stand in his way and when he steps on the mat, unlike his brother, he is laser focused on beating his opponent.
Christensen as well, is an excellent grappler and doesn’t take anything for granted. Christensen, who plays quarterback on the football team, is used to taking hits and can bounce right off, Mogren says. Like Anderson, Christensen is no stranger to state competition.
Jaxson Holter is a happy-go-lucky kid who likes to clown around, but when he’s on the wrestling mat, it’s all business. Mogren has seen Holter go from an average kid to an outstanding high school wrestler and he’s proud of his 195-pounder.
Xylis Holter will get the job done, according to Mogren. His work ethic will certainly earn him a spot in the top 8 in North Dakota Class B and Mogren wouldn’t be surprised if he emerges first or second. Mogren says he believes these kids are ready to make Kenmare Bowbells and Burke Central proud. He said, however, some of the kids have been asking him about who they’ll wrestle in the second round. The head coach told his grapplers if they think like that, there won’t be a second day.
“We just can’t look past the opening round,” Mogren said. “We have to have the right mindset, and I think we’ll be ready.”
But how do the wrestlers feel about being on statewide television?
Christensen said it will be a new and exciting experience for the younger wrestlers and a good experience for everyone. He’s wrestled in the Fargodome numerous times. Expectations and confidence are running high, according to Christensen.
“All of us have a chance at a state title,” Christensen said. “And we haven’t been to state as a team in, I think 19 or 20 years. It will be good.”
Likewise, Jaxson Holter has been on the big stage numerous times and is looking forward to it.
"No, I don’t have any stage fright,” Holter said. “Everybody gets a few butterflies in a tournament like this, but it’s not a big deal. If we put our minds together and do what we know we can do, I think we
He acknowledged that the Honkers beating Lisbon in the duals will be difficult, but in Holter’s mind,
that’s getting the hard part taken care of right away.
“The team has really pulled together, it’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
“If we can get over that hump, we can get through anything,” Holter said. “The team has really pulled
together, it’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
This is Cook’s third trip to state, and he’s only a freshman. He’s no stranger to facing some of the best
North Dakota has to offer, and Cook won’t crack under the bright lights and TV cameras.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Cook said. “Obviously, it’s just another match. I feel if anyone is going to
pull an upset, it’s going to be us.”