N.D. CLASS A STATE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT: Poole comes up with win in final minute for state title

BISMARCK -- With less than a minute remaining, T.J. Poole knew he couldn't wait much longer to make his move. And the Grand Forks Central senior didn't wait. Poole scored five points in the final seconds in taking a dramatic 6-2 win against Turtl...

T.J. Poole
T.J. Poole controls Wyatt Azure of Turtle Mountain on his way to winning the state championship at 160 pounds. (Kevin Cederstrom)

BISMARCK -- With less than a minute remaining, T.J. Poole knew he couldn't wait much longer to make his move.

And the Grand Forks Central senior didn't wait.

Poole scored five points in the final seconds in taking a dramatic 6-2 win against Turtle Mountain's Wyatt Azure to win the 160-pound championship Saturday at the North Dakota Class A state wrestling meet at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Poole won his first state title and finished with a 43-4 season record. He also set the school's single-season record for wins.

In the final minute, Azure took an injury timeout. During the break, Central coach Matt Berglund said Poole needed to make his move as soon as possible.


"He was down 2-1," Berglund said. "T.J. was frustrated because he couldn't get close to the kid. We said he had to get after him right away. He couldn't leave it to chance. He got a double-leg takedown and then held for a near fall. It was a five-point move."

Poole said he knew he was running out of time.

"I couldn't get any shots on him and he wasn't opening up," Poole said. "I had to get one good shot, and I got it."

Poole's win capped quite a turnaround. Last season, Poole didn't place at the state meet.

"For T.J., it's been such a journey," Berglund said. "Last year, he had a heartbreaking loss to get into the placing. It was a low point in my career because I knew how hard T.J. worked.

"After that, he dedicated himself. Had he not suffered that loss, he may have not gotten that win."

It was Poole's third win of the season over Azure.

Central had four other placers as well; Bryce Fish was second at 152; Kalik Battle third at 113; Erik Jones fourth at 152; and Seferino Hernandez sixth at 220.


GFC's Fish second

Central had one other wrestler in the finals. But Bryce Fish was forced to default after suffering a concussion.

That resulted in Jamestown's Zane Braun winning the 152-pound championship.

"It feels awesome," said Braun, who was ahead 8-2 when Fish suffered the injury. "It's the best thing you could ever feel at this moment."

Braun was a standout throughout the tourney.

He pinned his first two opponents before earning a 17-2 tech fall against top-seeded Eddie Maisey of Williston in the semifinals.

Maisey entered the tourney 34-4. He was second place last year at 135.

Braun finished sixth last year at 152.


"I have been waiting for this all year long," Braun said. "I just wanted to go out there and win it. I got bummed out a few times when I was beaten by a few kids. But my dad and everybody told me to keep my head up. I pushed through it and came out on top."

Red River placers

Grand Forks Red River had four placers, led by Billy Rerick's third-place effort at 145. Rerick beta Valley City's Reed Beckman 10-3 to claim third.

At 182, Red River's Jared Bertsch finished fourth after losing a 9-4 match to Bismarck Century's Landon Schmidt.

At 195, Drew Brekhus downed Trace Moravec of Century 7-1 to take fifth.

And at heavyweight, Red River's Bryan Bjerk finished sixth.

Packers roll to title

The West Fargo wrestling team was the favorite all season. This was why.


Bolstered by three individual champions, the Packers earned the program's first individual team title since 2006.

"It feels good," said West Fargo coach Kayle Dangerud, whose team finished 31½ points ahead of four-time defending individual team champ Bismarck. "We've put a lot of hard work in during the past two years and it's finally paid off."

The Packers received championship match wins from Jordan Shearer (106), Trevor Kringlie (120) and Preston Lehmann (182). Each member of the trio was the top-seeded wrestler in his weight class.

Shearer got the ball rolling with a 9-0 major decision against No. 2 seed Curt Zachmeier of Mandan. It's Shearer's third-consecutive state championship.

He won titles each of the last two seasons at 103.

Kringlie followed with a nail-biting 8-6 win against Terry LaVallie of Turtle Mountain-Belcourt. Kringlie -- who won the 112-pound championship last year -- narrowly escaped a LaVallie comeback as time expired.

Kringlie's second state title puts him on par with his father, Ryan, a former two-time champ at Bismarck in 1991-92.

Lehmann had perhaps the most dominant run to a championship in Class A.


He pinned each of his four opponents in a combined 5 minutes, 32 seconds.

The junior was won titles in each of the last two years. Last year's came at 171.

West Fargo was the individual state team runner up the last two seasons. Last year, the Packers finished just 2½ points behind the Demons.


Williston's Eddie Maisey was named Class A senior athlete of the year. ... Four of the five returning state champions earned another title Saturday. West Fargo's Anjelo Shepherd, who suffered a severe high-ankle sprain in the first round, was the lone returning champ to not earn more hardware. Shepherd was unable to wrestle on Saturday due to the injury. ... Dangerud is the first West Fargo recipient of Class A coach of the year honors since the award began in 1966.

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