The Bismarck Rotary wrestling tournament is a mile marker in the high school wrestling season. In front of it, the first half of the season. Behind it, regionals and state.
In other words, it's the midway point of the season. But before the second half can begin, 14 individual champions and a team champion must be named inside the confines of Bismarck's Event Center.
As a team, Bismarck High claimed the North Dakota scoring lead, as the Demons tallied two champions and 172.5 points and finished in fourth place.
"We had some bumps in the road this weekend," Bismarck co-head coach Mark Lardy said. "Between the Legacy triangular and this tournament, this was good competition for us."
Brock Fettig and Isaiah Huus, two wrestlers who should make a lot of noise at the state tournament next month, won titles for the Demons at 182 and 220 pounds, respectively.
Fettig has just one loss on the year. With two pins and a tech fall on Friday, he easily jumped to the championship round, where he faced Michael Clifton of Carrington, a fellow senior who had just three losses on the year.
People are also reading…
That is, he had three until he faced Fettig. While not the pin or tech fall that followers of Fettig's work in the wrestling scene are used to, a 17-4 major decision was certainly enough to give the Bismarck senior the undisputed crown.
"Going against a kid from Carrington is no different than us going against a South Dakota kid or a Montana kid that we'll never see again," Lardy said. "Good competition is good for us."
As for Huus, he entered the championship match facing a familiar opponent in Nick Windsor of St. Mary's. Huus simply overpowered his counterpart, allowing just a second-period escape while posting a five-point first period, a four-point second period, and a three-point third to take a 12-1 major decision victory.
"Windsor is a tough competitor," Lardy said. "It doesn't matter what seed he is, if you get to the finals in this tournament, there's a reason why, and it's because you're a good, solid wrestler.
"He's tough, he's gritty, and he made us work for everything we got."
Century was the only other team from Bismarck to hang in the top 10, earning a sixth-place finish at 135 points, just ahead of Valley City at 133.
The Patriots jumped to where they did on the strength of a plentiful number of wrestlers who made their way through the consolation bracket to score points in the placement matches taking place throughout Saturday.
Kaden DeCoteau at 132 pounds was Century's biggest points-getter, as the junior took out two ninth graders, a sophomore and a senior on his way to a title.
"I got a little tired at the end," DeCoteau said. "I worked a lot in the summer on getting better on my feet, and that's where I scored most of my points, so it's good to know that paid off."
DeCoteau earned pins in his first and third match, won a major decision in his second, and closed out his title run with an 8-2 decision over Caleb Richter of Rapid City Stevens.
"My quarterfinals and finals matches were both tough," DeCoteau said. "I continued to fight every time I got scored on and kept my head up and kept going.
"I knew (Caleb) was tough on top after seeing his semifinal match, so I knew when I got taken down, I had to get out right away, otherwise he was going to turn me and get some more points in."
Legacy and St. Mary's finished outside the top 10. The Saints finished 11th with 106 points and Legacy 12th (105).
Isaac Felchle of the Saints took advantage of several absences at 145 pounds, including Bismarck High state title winner A.J. Araujo, to eke out a championship.
"You have to win your first match to get to the championship," Felchle said. "It felt good to have people behind my back, cheering me on, people wanting to see me succeed.
"I stuck to the basics (in the championship match), had good head-hands defense, and scored off my re-attacks. On top, I kept (Dean) belly-down, and kept pushing forward. That helped me a lot."
All of Felchle's matches went the distance, including a 6-0 shutout of Sidney's Zander Dean in the title match.
"I wrestled solid throughout the whole tournament," Felchle said. "I kept grinding to the whistle every time."
With the completion of the Rotary, much of the remaining wrestling schedule for the teams in attendance will be dual-focused, with the biggest tournaments left being state and regions next month.
"The schedule now transitions to duals until the regional tournament," Lardy said. "Before, you're in the grind of the season, now we've got a little time to have less time-intense competition which should be good for us."
After claiming and holding the points lead for much of Friday and Saturday, Rapid City Stevens (203.5 team points) was overtaken by a fellow South Dakota team, Watertown (205.5), for the team title.
Sidney (Mont.) closed out the top three with a score of 187 points.
Watertown managed its team championship despite winning only the 113 pound title, with Sloan Johannsen taking down Minot's Kade Marker in an 8-6 decision.
Stevens also only won a single title, the 126 slot with Logan Graf (38-second pin of Watertown's Connor Hanson), but they had five second-place finishes (106, 120, 132, 160, and 285).
Valley City's Koltyn Grebel won at 106, 6-5 over Corbin Zent of Rapid City Stevens. Koltny's brother Koye Grebel topped Jack Schoenhard of Rapid City Stevens for the 120-pound crown.
Minot's Victor Garcia won a 3-2 decision over Dickinson's Houstin Crimmins at 138 pounds.
Sidney's Zander Burnison put up seven points in the second and third periods to beat West Fargo's Nick Anderson, 7-2, at 152 pounds. Sidney also claimed the 160-pound title, with Aden Graves winning an 11-3 major decision over Riley Benson of Stevens, and the 170-pound title, as Grady Nelson won a 7-1 decision over DeJarius Jones of Minot.
The lone Bismarck finalist to lose his match was Ben Nagel at 195 pounds, who was pinned by Glasgow (Mont.) native Kyler Hallock.
A beauty of a heavyweight fight saw Dylan Carlquist of Fargo Davies count a third-period escape as the lone point in a 1-0 decision win over Colton Lauen of Stevens.