Room to grow
As the spotlight turned down and the dimmed fluorescent lights hanging around the maroon wrestling mat at Magic City Campus began to glow, Century coach Jerald Lemar spat out an encouraging vision of the future of Minot High wrestling.
“I think (Minot coach Nolan) Spooner should be excited for this young group of boys,” he said, “because I’ll tell ya what, they’ve got something special right now with that group.”
But Thursday evening left no doubt that Lemar is content with his senior-laden squad. The No. 3 Patriots won the first seven matches and overwhelmed Minot 59-12.
The Magicians (2-2 overall, 2-2 West Region) recorded all of their points on pins. Senior Isaiah Crowe – Minot’s lone senior and one of two upperclassmen – posted the first at heavyweight and sophomore Matthew Leier notched the other at 106 pounds.
Century (3-0 overall, 3-0 West Region) boasts 11 upperclassmen, including seven seniors, and returns the third-most state points from a year ago.
“That’s a great measuring stick for us,” Spooner said. “Like I was telling the boys, those are some kids we’re gonna have to beat in order to achieve our goals. We have some kids that want to be state place-winners. One of the roads to be a state place-winner is gonna go through those guys.”
The Patriots displayed a mature and deep squad early on, tallying three pins and one open-class victory to swell its lead to 35-0 midway through the dual. Six of the Patriots’ 14 wrestlers competed in a higher weight class – wiggle room a 36-man roster allows for.
“Getting those matchups that we like obviously led to wins and extra bonus points,” Lemar said. “That helped us out substantially in the beginning.”
Spooner said the Magicians (2-2, 2-2) lacked focus on some of the intricacies of their game plan.
“We were giving up hand control a little too easy, we weren’t real heavy on top,” he said. “We’ve gotta go back to the drawing board, back to the basics. It’s not a huge fix, it’s little things. It’s always about the little things.”
With the dual beginning at 145, Crowe and Leier wrestled in back to back bouts.
Crowe, 10-1 on the year, pinned Century senior Tanner Krefting in 4 minutes, 31 seconds. He led 1-0 after two periods and opened the third with the advantage before putting the Magicians on the board.
“I wish I would’ve pinned him a little sooner, but a pin’s a pin and it helps out the team,” Crowe said.
Leier needed 77 seconds to pull Minot within 35-12, but the Patriots claimed the final five matches – two by pin and one by technical fall – to take the dual in a landslide.
“Leier has been a solid (106-pounder),” Spooner said. “Obviously we have two of them and we have two really good ones. It’s nice to see Matt being able to step in and step up and get a pin for us.”
Minot eighth-grader Brody Armstrong, ranked No. 5 at 106 pounds, missed the contest due to illness.
The Magicians wrestle Friday and Saturday at the Grand Forks Invite. Spooner said they’ll take their loss to Century with the understanding that it’s building for the future – that bright future Lemar envisions.
“It’s gonna be a different match every time we wrestle,” Spooner said. “We’re gonna gain experience, we’re gonna learn things, we’re gonna understand what it takes to beat guys like that.”
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.