FARGO - The New Salem wrestling program didn't produce a single state champion from 2005 to 2009.
It boasts three in 2010.
New Salem's Nate Seeger, Mike Rusk and Cody Neumiller became state champions for the first time Saturday on the final day of the Class B wrestling state tournament. Seeger posted a 10-2 major decision over Taylor Ptacek of Oakes in the 160-pound title match; Rusk downed Deven Loepp of Oakes 8-1 at 125, and Neumiller defeated Blake Bosch of South Border 11-8 at 112.
The state title was especially sweet for Seeger, who lost in the 2007 and 2009 finals. The senior also lost in the 2008 semifinals.
Seeger, who was named Class B wrestler of the year, said he had never before felt as nervous as he did before his final match.
"There was some pressure. I knew this was it and I didn't want to blow it," he said. "But I felt a lot better after I got into it. I wrestled hard and accomplished my goal.
"It would have been nice if I had won a state title earlier, but those losses made me want it more this year," Seeger continued. "I was really motivated."
Seeger finished with a 25-0 record. He won all of his matches by either pin, technical fall or major decision.
Rusk, who lost in the 2008 and 2009 semifinals, improved to 35-1 with his win over Loepp. The senior scored six unanswered points to finish the match, starting with an escape and a takedown that made it 5-1 with 1:10 left.
"I had a game plan and I stuck to it," said Rusk, a two-time third-place finisher. "You can't let (Loepp) get a lead on you. He's a good wrestler on top and he's hard to get away from. But I scored the first points and that sort of set the stage."
Neumiller, the No. 3 seed, opened up a 7-0 lead against the top-seeded Bosch, getting a takedown and a two-point near fall in the first period, and an escape and a takedown early in the second.
"I knew I had to come out strong against him. He's really tough when he has a lead," said Neumiller, a sophomore. "I tried to be more aggressive than him. I got off to a great start and that was the difference."
The Holsteins tallied 118 points in the tournament and finished in a tie for third with Lisbon. New Salem coach Mike Pazdernik was named coach of the year.
Jared Reis of Napoleon added another piece of first-place state hardware to the family collection, defeating Willson Hallaway of Rolla-Rock Lake-St. John 8-2 in the 140-pound final. Reis' father, Jacque, won a state title at 155 pounds in 1982. His brother Dominique was the 135-pound champion in 2002.
"It's a good feeling. It's something I've always wanted to do," said Reis, a sophomore. "Wrestling's pretty big in my family."
Reis improved to 38-1. His only loss was to the Class A 140-pound state champion, Joe Schumacher of Bismarck, at the Bismarck Rotary Tournament in January.
Reis and Schumacher trained together last summer.
"We traveled all over to different tournaments," Reis said. "Just training with Joe made me better. All of that wrestling we did in the summer paid off."
Reis' teammate Ryan Becker didn't fare as well, losing to unbeaten Brady Coleman of Oakes 5-0 at 119. Coleman finished the season 24-0.
Devin Olson of South Border capped off a 38-0 campaign with a 6-5 win over Zach Odden of Central Cass in the 215-pound title match.
"It's one thing to win a state championship, but to go through a whole year without losing a match makes it that much more special," said the South Border junior. "I thought I had a chance to go undefeated if I worked hard at it. It's going to be tough to top this next year, but I'm going after it again."
In other finals involving area wrestlers, Jacob Laber of Carrington defeated Sean Elkins of Hettinger 6-3 at 130, and Lance Ehrlin of Oakes edged top-seeded Brady Lund of Watford City 1-0 at 135.
Ethan Plemel (189) and Cody Kasprick (285) also won state titles for Oakes, which wrapped up its second straight team championship. The Tornadoes totaled 182 points, 38.5 more than second-place Carrington. South Border finished fifth with 98.5.
Schalesky, Lemer, Nagel headed into Hall
Theo Schalesky of Hettinger, Harvey native Brandon Lemer and New Salem native Lee Nagel were inducted into the North Dakota Wrestling Hall of Fame Saturday. Schalesky was a state champion at Hettinger High School (1985) and a standout at Dickinson State. He is an assistant wrestling coach at Hettinger, and the head coach of the Hettinger Kids Wrestling Club. ... Lemer won two state titles at Harvey, and was a three-time NAIA All-American at Jamestown. He is a six-time state Greco champion, and a two-time state Freestyle winner. ... Nagel was a standout at New Salem High School and at Dickinson State. He served as head wrestling coach at Wahpeton High School for 15 seasons, earning East Region coach of the year honors twice.