N.D. CLASS A STATE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT: Central advances two to finals

BISMARCK -- For Grand Forks Central coach Matt Berglund, it was a match unlike any other in his coaching career. His two Central wrestlers, Bryce Fish and Eric Jones, went head-to-head in the semifinals of the North Dakota state Class A wrestling...

Grand Forks Central wrestling
Grand Forks Central wrestlers Bryce Fish and Erik Jones congratulate each other after Fish won their semifinal match 8-6 in OT at 152 pounds to advance to the finals. Forum Communications photo by Kevin Cederstrom.

BISMARCK -- For Grand Forks Central coach Matt Berglund, it was a match unlike any other in his coaching career.

His two Central wrestlers, Bryce Fish and Eric Jones, went head-to-head in the semifinals of the North Dakota state Class A wrestling tournament Friday at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Fish won, 8-6 in overtime, to advance to Saturday's 152-pound championship match.

"It was one of the most emotional, gut-wrenching experiences of my life," Berglund said. "But that was the situation we were in."

The match was emotional for both wrestlers.


"They're best friends; they're roommates on the road. They were overcome with emotion at the end of the match.

"They fought tooth-and-nail for seven minutes but they were smiling."

Fish will wrestle Jamestown Zane Braun in the championship match. Braun, the No. 5 seed, upset the top seed, Williston's Eddie Maisey, 17-2 in the semifinals.

"Bryce had defeated (Braun) in their only match this season, but obviously this is a different situation," Berglund said.

Central, however, advance another wrestler to today's final.

T.J. Poole reached the 160-pound finals and will wrestle Wyatt Azure of Turtle Mountain High School. Poole defeated Minot's David Rabe, Minot, 10-7 in the semifinals, while Azure downed Zach Schuchard of Bismarck 10-2.

Poole is the top seed; Azure is the No. 2.

Poole has defeated Azure twice this season.


In all, Central will have five placers when the tournament ends.

Unseeded Seferino Hernandez also reached the placing round, which Berglund called a nice surprise.

The last two Grand Forks Central wrestlers to win championships came in 2007, when Josh Roberts and Andrew Kennedy won titles.

Bjerk defeated at heavyweight

Fargo South senior Josh Schlicht was sidelined for the first half of the wrestling season while recovering from knee surgery.

However, the heavyweight hasn't let it derail him from his goal of earning a state title.

Schlicht pinned top-seeded Bryan Bjerk of Grand Forks Red River in 1 minute, 20 seconds Friday to earn a spot in the heavyweight finals today.

"It was probably Thursday of this week when I finally felt that I was fully back and had a good match going," said Schlicht, who will face Minot's Nick Nesdahl today in the championship match. "It's hard to ignore the pain. You just have to go out there and do it."


Schlicht, who entered the tournament 14-4 and with the No. 4 seed, appeared to be in trouble when Bjerk attempted a takedown near the edge of the mat.

Schlicht used his momentum to roll Bjerk to the mat and get the pin. It was Schlicht's third consecutive first-period pin of the tournament.

The win was Schlicht's first in three tries against Bjerk this season.

"I just got myself psyched up," said Schlicht, who first injured his knee last year before tearing an MCL earlier this season. "I warmed up really well and got myself going. I just had to focus on how he has beaten me before and avoid those situations"

Schlicht now turns his attention to Nesdahl, a No. 2 seed who slipped past Brandon Sandberg of Williston 3-1 in the semifinals.

"I just have to go hard and have patience in my match," he said. "I think I'll do all right."

Red River, meanwhile, dropped two other matches in the semifinals.

Red River's Billy Rerick lost a 6-3 decision to Bismarck's Ricky Purtle at 145, while West Fargo's Drew Johnson pinned Drew Brekhus of Red River at 3:05 at 195.


Lehmann dominates

West Fargo's Preston Lehmann has learned a lot from his older brother Tyler.

Like the art of domination.

Preston pinned Grand Forks Red River junior Jared Bertsch in 21 seconds to advance to the 182 pound finals. Last year's state champion at 171, Preston has pinned each of his three tournament opponents in the first round.

"I want to dominate every one of my opponents," Preston said. "I want to pin everyone in the first period. Nothing less than that will do."

Tyler Lehmann wrestled for Apple Valley in Minnesota before transferring to West Fargo for his senior season in 2010. He was a University of Minnesota recruit before heading to the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado.

On a break from training, Tyler occasionally helps out in the West Fargo wrestling room.

He was at the state tournament, and sat with Packers coach Kayle Dangerud at the side of the mat for Preston's semifinal match.


"He taught me that you have to be aggressive out there," Preston said of Tyler. "You have to be mean. You have to go out there, push guys around and show them who's boss."

Preston said he's on a mission to dominate in the finals, where he will face Bismarck junior Drew Kary.

West Fargo also won the dual championship on Friday, downing Bismarck High 35-23.

In the third-place match, Williston downed Bismarck Century 33-24.

Distributed by Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald

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