The Junior and Cadet National Wrestling Championships are like space travel. You can prepare for the experience, but you can't really simulate it.
That's the analysis of Bismarck wrestler Brock Krumm -A St. Mary's grappler - who has been through four of the big events and is looking forward to a fifth.
"I've been 3-0 and 4-1, but it's tough to place. You're going to need about six wins and a loss to place in your bracket," Krumm said. "It wears on you. It's a long tournament. You have five matches in a day sometimes."
The ordeal consists of six tournaments - Greco-Roman and freestyle competition for Cadet boys (ages 15-16), Junior boys (17-18) and girls. Wrestlers who compete in both the Greco-Roman divisions must grind out two complete tournaments in seven days. Greco-Roman action concludes Tuesday and freestyle competition wraps up Saturday. That can mean 15 matches.
Krumm placed fifth at 91 pounds in Greco on his first attempt in 2006. He hasn't placed since, but he's got his eye on another trophy next week.
"I want to place in Greco. I'll have to fight, but I think it's doable. ... I'm doing both styles. It seems in North Dakota we do better in Greco."
Fourteen Juniors and 19 Cadets are on the North Dakota team.
The Juniors include four former All-Americans - Scott Schiller of West Fargo (Junior Greco and freestyle, 2009; Cadet freestyle, 2008); Michael Nord of Lisbon (Cadet Greco, 2009); Krumm (Cadet Greco, 2006) and Eric Forde (Cadet Greco, 2006).
Bismarck High School co-coach Scott Knowlen, the state USA Wrestling junior director, said the North Dakota wrestlers have a variety of goals. There are those who are chasing national championships, others who want to become All-Americans, some who hope to win a match and wrestlers who just see an opportunity for improvement.
Still, there is something the wrestlers who have been at Knowlen's two-week pre-nationals training camp have in common.
"The strand that binds them together is their desire to work hard to get better in order to reach their goals," Knowlen said. "There's a nice byproduct in this type of setting. Whenever you throw everybody from across the state into the room everyone puts his best foot forward. They want to shine in front of their peers."
Krumm, who won the Class A 135-pound title for the Saints last winter as a junior, said he expects to improve in the coming week.
"It definitely makes you better," he said. "... You learn to adapt match by match."
Adapting on the fly is important, because most of the opposing wrestlers are completely unfamiliar. "It's really a different experience. In North Dakota you get an idea of how someone wrestles. (At nationals) you have to focus on what you're doing. ... You go out and wrestle and do what you can do."
The North Dakota team is going to be missing some of its top wrestlers this week, including BHS standouts Joe Schumacher and Joe Latham. Latham, who graduated last month, is an Oregon State recruit.
Schumacher suffered a dislocated elbow in training this month, and Latham is coming off recent knee surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Kameron Hamley of Turtle Mountain, a Cadet Greco-Roman runner-up last summer, is shelved due to a hand injury he suffered in spring wrestling.
Forde suffered a knee injury in the Junior National dual tournament late last month and had arthroscopic surgery. He'll be able to wrestle in the Greco tournament, but will have to skip freestyle.
Other wrestlers who won't be competing for North Dakota include state champions Eric Lehmann and Tyler Lehmann of West Fargo and state runner-up Terry LaVallie of Turtle Mountain.
North Dakota finished 10-7 at the Junior National Duals and could have done even better with a full team, according to Knowlen. He said the North Dakota team will be afflicted by similar problems at Fargo.
"This is one of our peak years because of the individual talent coming through," Knowlen said. "I would say it would not have been unrealistic for us to be in the top five."
Alex Andel, 285 pounds, FS, Valley City. Eric Forde, 119 pounds, GR, Fargo. Gerad Fugleberg, 285, GR, FS, Fargo. Taylor Hellman, 215, GR, FS, Mandan. Ian Johnson, 145, GR, FS, Bismarck. Cody Kasprick, 285, GR, FS, Oakes. Brock Krumm, 145, GR, FS, Bismarck. Thomas Kuehn, 103, GR, FS, West Fargo. Brandon Larson, 160, FS, Valley City. Brent Mittleider, 140, GR, FS, Jamestown. Michael Nord, 152, GR, FS, Lisbon. Pat Rollins, 125, FS, Wahpeton. Scott Schiller, 215, GR, FS, West Fargo. Andy Walton, 145, GR, FS, Fargo.
Seth Anderson, 285 pounds, GR, FS, Rolla. Reed Beckman, 135, FS, Valley City. Ryan Blees, 125, GR, FS, Bismarck. Zane Braun, 140, GR, FS, Jamestown. Reed Cronin, 84, GR, FS, West Fargo. Anthony DeLeon, 145, GR, FS, Fargo. Bryce Fish, 140, GR, FS, Grand Forks. Kip Jangula, 160, GR, FS, Bismarck. Drew Kary, 189, GR, FS, Bismarck. Kael Knowlen, 91, GR, FS, Bismarck. Trevor Kringlie, 105, GR, FS, West Fargo. Preston Lehmann, 171, GR, FS, West Fargo. Sean Murphy, 98, GR, FS, Grand Forks. T.J. Poole, 160, GR, FS, Grand Forks. Jared Ries, 145, GR, FS, Napoleon. Caleb Rutner, 135, GR, FS, Grand Forks. Miles Scholl, 160, GR, FS, West Fargo. Tommy Walton, 81, GR, FS, Fargo. Caleb Worrel, 152, FS, Fargo.