Prep wrestling: Lehmann brothers are heading back to Wahpeton and leaving some upset

The North Dakota High School Activities Association could soon take a closer look at its transfer rules in the wake of recent movement involving West Fargo wrestlers.

The North Dakota High School Activities Association could soon take a closer look at its transfer rules in the wake of recent movement involving West Fargo wrestlers.

"People will probably mess around with it enough where the rule will get addressed," NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling said. "Who knows what the outcome will be. The rule worked for a long time, and if it doesn't work anymore it could be changed."

Dean Lehmann, the father of wrestlers Eric and Michael, said Tuesday that his sons will transfer back to Wahpeton for the upcoming school year after one year at West Fargo. Eric will be a senior and Michael will be a sophomore.

Eric and Michael, along with cousins Tyler and Preston Lehmann, caused a stir in wrestling circles when all four transferred to the Packers last year.

Tyler came to West Fargo after earning back-to-back state titles at Minnesota prep power Apple Valley. He will wrestle at the University of Minnesota next year. Preston came to the Packers from Fargo North.


West Fargo snapped Bismarck's 10-year reign as Class A state dual champions. The Packers also finished second to the Demons in the individual team race at state.

Eric Lehmann earned the 171-pound Class A state title, Tyler won the 189-pound crown and Preston finished second at 160.

Preston is staying at West Fargo, Packers coach Kayle Dangerud said. Preston will be a sophomore.

North Principal Andy Dahlen last December filed a complaint urging the NDHSAA to look into a possible transfer rules infraction by the family of Tyler and Preston Lehmann. Eric and Michael were not named in the complaint.

After an investigation, the activities association ruled in January that the parents of Tyler and Preston Lehmann did not break the rules.

According to NDHSAA bylaws, a family must totally vacate its existing home and move into a new school district to be eligible immediately to participate in activities. If there isn't a change in residence, an athlete is required to sit out varsity competition for 180 school days.

Dean Lehmann said his family is moving back to Wahpeton for financial reasons. Dean said he was unable to sell the house in Wahpeton while the family lived in a rented home in West Fargo.

"It's easier financially to go back. I hope people can understand where we are coming from," Dean said. "Walk a day in my shoes and then talk."


Dangerud said he's not concerned with the transfer rule.

"I just think people have the right to live wherever they want to live," he said. "It's of no concern to me what other people's perception is. We do not control who comes into our program."

Wahpeton head wrestling coach Kelly McNary said his team was rooting for Eric and Michael all of last season.

"To tell you the truth, I never really tried to get involved in why they left or what was going on," said McNary, the Huskies head coach since 1994. "I always tried to make sure I was showing continued support to those wrestlers that I've had in our room. Even though (Eric and Michael) turned out to be opponents of ours, I still supported them in any way I could.

"... I thought it worked out well for them, whatever reason they did it for."

Sylling said a change in the transfer rule would require a change in the NDHSAA bylaws.

Such a change must be made by the Board of Directors, Sylling said.

Sylling said there is no limit to the number of times a family can move.


For a student to be declared eligible for activities as a transfer, the school districts involved must determine that the family is actively attempting to sell their previous residence, Sylling said.

"In the wrestling world, it's not going to pass the smell test," Sylling said. "But I don't know why they are moving. If a family moves, lock, stock and barrel, to another residence, they are eligible to participate. ... A rule can't fix everything."

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