JHS to compete in Rumble on the Red for the first time
In a short period of time, the Rumble on the Red has become one of the top wrestling tournaments in the upper Midwest.
The tournament began in 2006, but has grown rapidly. This weekend’s field features over 60 high school teams, including several of the top programs from Minnesota.
It’s part of a grueling five-week stretch for the Blue Jays. Next weekend, they head to Bismarck for the Rotary, another challenging field, but they’ll see no stronger field than this one.
“This is the epitome of competition. It’s the best of the best,” Eslick said. “It’s a meat-grinder.”
Competing in the meet, which is held at the Fargodome, meant a major commitment from the team.
“This has been quite a sacrifice from our kids and their families. The only day we took off was Christmas Day,” Eslick said. “We practiced on Christmas Eve, and we practiced (Thursday). It’s a serious commitment, but this is something we felt like as a program we wanted to do.”
With a young and limited roster, it’s been a challenging start to the season for the Blue Jays, although Eslick is pleased with the progress.
“We have challenges based on the makeup of our team right now, but the kids are learning fast and they’ve shown a great attitude,” he said. “There’s been a lot of baptism by fire with throwing kids out there, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far, but we still have a long ways to go.”
The Blue Jays’ four ranked wrestlers will be among the five competing in the varsity tournament. Paxton Mewes (132), Caleb Ellingson (170), Triston Shipley (182) and top-ranked Eathan Gumke (195) have been ranked all season. Joining them will be 220-pounder Kyle Anderson. Setting expectations for a tournament such as the Rumble is not necessarily about wins and losses.
“The level of competition here is extremely high,” Eslick said. “Our guys have worked hard. They’re in shape. Conditioning will not be a factor.”
The 60-plus team field features over 40 Minnesota schools, including marquee programs like 2013 Class AAA state champion Apple Valley and Class AA runner-up Frazee.
There will be 19 mats up and running along the floor of the Fargodome during the three-day event. Jamestown and Bismarck St. Mary’s are the only two schools from the West Region competing, but most East Region teams will be in action, including 2013 Class A state champion West Fargo. Last season’s Class B champs South Border also will be on hand.
“It’s exciting to compete in a tournament like this,” Eslick said. “It’s a great experience for our kids and something we’ll learn from and hopefully build on as the season goes on.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com