Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River wrapped up their regular season Saturday afternoon.
In a normal season, the two teams would be readying for the East Region tournament.
Instead, the teams will likely hold nine practices and build straight to the North Dakota state tournament in Fargo, due to the pandemic canceling region tournaments.
"It was a little bit of a downer at first hearing that because we haven't had any tournaments," said Central coach Jeff Welsh, whose Knights beat the Roughriders 71-12 in the dual at the Red River gym. "But we all realized, and we told our kids before the season, our goal is to get to state and have a state tournament. Everyone accepted that pretty quickly. In wrestling or life, we have to accept what we can do. Knock on wood, if we get there in 10 days, having a state tournament means the season is a success."
Red River first-year coach James Covington had similar mixed feelings about skipping regionals.
"From a coaching standpoint, you want all your kids to go to state, so it's great in that aspect," Covington said. "But you also have the point of view, where not everyone should go to state. I'm from an age, I don't want to hand out participation ribbons. I want you to earn your place to go to state. So there's points for yes and no."
With Red River featuring a young, inexperienced team, Central entered the dual as heavy favorites.
The Roughriders picked up a pair of wins in the lower weights with Gavyn Hluchny beating Anton Perales with a pin at 4:42 at 106 pounds, while Camden Larson beat Declan Sheppered with a pin at 58 seconds at 112 pounds.
Central saw wins at challenged weights from Noah Morkve at 132 pounds, Hayden Mack at 145 pounds, Cyncere Haskins at 170 pounds, Austin Bucker at 182 pounds, Michael Torgerson at 195 pounds and Justin Kerr at 220 pounds.
"I was really happy with our technique," Welsh said. "All of the matches we were favored in we won. We weren't favored at the lighter two weights. Especially at 106, I thought our kid (Anton Perales) wrestled really tough against one of their toughest kids.
"All of our experienced guys wrestled their inexperience. It was a nice night to work on technique and aggressiveness getting ready for state. Red River has a young team, and they scrapped and battled in all of the matches."
Red River dropped to 0-9 in the league, 1-13 overall. Central improved to 4-5 in the conference and 8-11 overall.
The state wrestling tournament will be held at the Fargodome, with the individual portion slated for Feb. 18-19. Class A and Class B will compete in separate sessions both days on the individual side.
The entire team dual portion of the tournament, which is typically held in a two-day span, will be held Saturday, Feb. 20.
GF Central 71, GF Red River 12
106: Gavyn Hluchny (GFRR) over Anton Perales 4:42; 113: Camden Larson (GFRR) over Declan Shepperd 0:58; 120: Gabe Tande (GFC) by forfeit; 126: Mason Williams (GFC) by forfeit; 132: Noah Morkve (GFC) over Jaxson Krueger 2:56; 138: Logan Shepperd (GFC) by forfeit; 145: Hayden Mack (GFC) over Kelly Middleton 3:15; 152: Braydon Williams (GFC) by forfeit; 160: Mike Erickson (GFC) by forfeit; 170: Cyncere Haskins (GFC) over Troy Stenehjem TF 20-2 5:00; 182: Austin Bicker (GFC) over Brayden Cunningham 0:57; 195: Michael Torgerson (GFC) over Jacob Votava 0:32; 220: Justin Kerr (GFC) over John Bjerke 1:21; 285: Daniel Suda (GFC) by forfeit.