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Strength in numbers for Central wrestlers

Grand Forks Central doesn't have a region champion, an individual ranked in the final state coaches' poll or a 30-win wrestler in its lineup.

Yet the Knights, without that dominant type of athlete, are one of eight teams in the state that have qualified for the North Dakota Class A dual high school wrestling tournament.

Central, 10-16 and the No. 4 seed from the East Region, meets Bismarck at approximately 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the state quarterfinals at the Fargodome.

For Central, success is the sum of all of its parts. It isn't a lineup that relies on a few standouts to carry the weight.

"We're a better dual team than we are an individual tournament team,'' Central coach Jeff Welsh said. "We don't have highly-ranked kids. But we have solid kids at every weight. And that adds up to a good team.

"It's hard to win duals if you aren't solid at every spot.''

While Central doesn't have a 30-win individual, it has 12 wrestlers with double-figure win totals. Five of those have reached the 20-win mark—Alec Humble (26-16), Brock Brandon (25-15), Will Rohrich (23-9), Grant Sullivan (21-12) and Ben Stevens (20-21).

Josh Isassi (19-17), Tyson Gass (18-14) and Evan Bridgeford (18-24) are just shy of 20 wins.

None of those eight are seniors.

"It's probably the most solid lineup I've had,'' said Welsh, in his third season as the Knights' head coach. "And we don't graduate very heavily. We could be even better next year.''

While Central didn't have a champion at Saturday's East Region meet, it had four second-place finishers in Brandon, Isassi, Humble and Sullivan. Three Knights are top-eight seeds heading into the state individual tournament, Brock (sixth), Rohrich (seventh) and Sullivan (seventh).

"That's about what we expected for seeding,'' Welsh said. "We were hoping Isassi could have gotten an eighth, but that didn't work out. And where we didn't get seeded, we did get some nice draws.''

Haugen top area seed

Grand Forks Red River's Jaden Haugen is the highest area seed in the Class A individual tournament.

The senior is 27-10 and seeded third at 182 pounds behind No. 1 Cade Pederson of West Fargo and No. 2 Trevis LaRocque of Turtle Mountain. Haugen lost his only match against Pederson this season and hasn't wrestled LaRocque.

"Jaden has a very good shot at making the finals,'' Red River coach Steve Holten said. "All the wrestlers are very talented at this point. It will come down to who executes.''

Area qualifiers

Here are area qualifiers for the North Dakota Class A state individual wrestling tournament, to be held today through Saturday in Fargo. Top-8 seeds are in parenthesis.

Devils Lake

106—Brant Fisk 20-19; 126—Sam Schomento 17-15; 132—Brayden Gerhardt 10-20; 138—Layten Wallace 10-5; 145—James Fisk 27-9; 145—Lance Hoffman 6-14; 152—Parker Vilandre (8) 14-16; 160—Cody Bjornson 14-13; 170—Colby Rance 28-11; 182—Luke Knowski (8) 13-10; 195—Robert Serumgard 13-13; 220—George DeMarce 25-9; 285—Shane Cavanaugh 1-21

GF Central

106—Tyson Gass 18-14; 113—Brock Brandon (6) 25-15; 113—Braydon Williams 14-18; 120—Josh Isassi 19-17; 126—Alec Humble 26-16; 126—Jake Salender 1-7; 138—Carson Williams 12-13; 138—Mike Erickson 11-18; 152—Evan Bridgeford 18-24; 160—Ben Stevens 20-21; 170—Will Rohrich (7) 23-9; 182—Dante Garcia 5-15; 195—Andy Hernandez 13-16; 220—Grant Sullivan (7) 21-12; 285—Travis Howe 4-19; 285—Beau Peterson 1-5

GF Red River

138—Jack Hanson 19-21; 152—Micaiah Peterson 16-18; 160—Zion Diggs 7-17; 170—Seth Hanson 6-14; 182—Jaden Haugen (3) 27-10; 195—Parker Nelson 15-23