DL-B’s Thomas wins state title
BISMARCK – After six grueling minutes, Des Lacs-Burlington senior Justin Thomas and Carrington senior Patrick Freeman remained in a 1-1 stalemate.
Neither wrestler was able to gain an edge in regulation of their Class B 138-pound state championship match at the Bismarck Civic Center, yet Thomas flashed a wide grin at one of the referees seconds before overtime.
“He just told us that we’re not that tired and I told him, ‘We’re really tired,’ ” Thomas said. “Me and Patrick are pretty good friends, so we could have fun out there while we were being competitive.”
Thomas had the last laugh. Within seconds he took Freeman’s back to earn the winning points in the sudden-death period. Thomas leapt to his feet, fists clenched, and screamed in excitement.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Thomas said. “I mean, right away I was pretty excited. It’s probably the only time I’ve ever reacted after a match. Usually, I’m just tired, take my leg band off and go to the coaches. It’ll hit me later.”
Freeman was the top seed in the tournament and Thomas was third. The DL-B multisport standout was No. 1 at 132 in last year’s tournament and lost to Carrington freshman Walker Carr in the final.
“I think he just pushed himself a little bit further in the last period and he just really brought it on,” DL-B coach Aaron Huck said. “Conditioning paid off. He got more comfortable being in the state tournament. He didn’t have the pressure of the No. 1 seed.”
Freeman struck first on an escape to start the second period. Thomas answered the same way to start the third period, but neither wrestler could free himself from the other’s clinch and wrist control throughout regulation. In overtime, Freeman pushed into Thomas, who ducked the move and swept around the side for control and the decisive two points.
“We wrestle the same type of style and we’re really good friends and you gotta have that competitive switch to turn it on and off when you have to,” Freeman said.
The Cardinals finished second to South Border for the team title. The Mustangs won their second consecutive championship, holding onto a 9.5-point lead despite dropping six individual championship matches. The Cardinals lost both of their championship matches – Carr, seeded No. 2, dropped a 5-3 decision to No. 1 Jaron Lunday of Grafton. The teams’ scores stayed the same from the wrestle-back session earlier in the day. South Border finished with 182 points to Carrington’s 172.5 to keep the individual team title with Region 1 for the 13th straight year.
“We were hoping for a little bit better, but things happen,” Freeman said. “We lost a lot of close matches when it came down to it. You can’t get pinned in the dual. We had guys get pinned, but second’s not bad. Hopefully, they can come back next year to win it.”
The Mustangs beat the Cardinals 34-33 on Friday to capture the dual title too. Region 1 has held that title for 13 straight seasons too and won 14 of the 15 since the dual championships started in 2000.
Notes: Lisbon senior Dylan Urbach (160) capped his career with a second straight championship and set the Class B record for career wins at 241. His win in the final on Saturday broke his tie with 2013 South Border graduate Blake Bosch. … Bishop Ryan senior heavyweight Mason Kramer finished third with a 4-0 decision over Hettinger-Scranton’s Brandon Ehlers. The Lions finished 11th overall with 75 points. Ryan had six placers, including Wyatt Ledoux (113), Aaron Sandy (120), Keaton Merck (145), Jordan Will (182) – all four finished in sixth place. Tyler Allers (220) took seventh.