Promising Blue Jays primed for openerGreg White is hoping his Jamestown High School wrestling team can fill the spots around the standouts. And Jamestown has standouts.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Greg White is hoping his Jamestown High School wrestling team can fill the spots around the standouts.
And Jamestown has standouts.
Led by defending state champion Zane Braun at 152 pounds, the Blue Jays return seven state qualifiers including five placewinners to the lineup.
“We’ve got some people that will be fun to watch this year,” White said.
Jamestown opens its season at 7 p.m. today when it visits Bismarck Century for a West Region dual.
As usual, the Jays don’t get much time to gather momentum. The Century matchup is followed by a dual at Belcourt (Nov. 29) and at Bismarck High (Dec. 4). All three are heavy hitters in West Region wrestling.
In the past, the Blue Jays have started the season with a number of holes in their lineup. This has led to early-season losses, sometimes to teams they arguably could have beaten later on.
This season, White said extra emphasis has been placed to making sure the Blue Jays have a full lineup from the get-go in an effort to secure a top four spot in the West Region, which would qualify them for the Class A state dual tournament.
“Every year, we’ve been there right at that 5-6 position,” White said. “Well, that doesn’t go to state as a team. It’s been because of a slow start. Now we’re trying to see if we can upset someone early.”
Braun, a senior, brings back his impressive 39-6 record. Also returning is senior Jaden Horsted (35-9), who took third at 120, and Eathan Gumke (31-11), a junior who was fourth at 170. Freshman Paxton Mewes (31-6) finished sixth at 106 and senior Ryan Hillerud (24-17) was eighth at 138.
The Blue Jays will deal with an open weight right away. They haven’t found anyone to take the reins at 106 yet, but White said he’ll possibly look to a middle-schooler when their wrestling season ends in December. Mewes “shot right past 106” and will wrestle at 113.
Mewes (113), senior Mitch Ova (138), Hillerud (145), Braun (152), Brandyn Harr (160), Caleb Ellingson (170), Gumke (182) and Kyle Anderson (220) have a strong hold on their spot in the starting lineup.
Horsted also has a firm grasp on a spot in the lineup; he just hasn’t been cemented into a certain weight class yet. White said Horsted will wrestle at 132 until after Christmas, when he’ll likely drop to 126, so freshman Keith Shahin can fill in at 132. When that happens, freshmen Dante Dillingham and Jakob Browning will step in and battle for the starting job at 120. Until then, Browning and Dillingham will likely both be in the starting lineup to fill out 120 and 126.
Colin Crabtree has the inside track at 195, but White said he’s being challenged by Triston Shipley. Mark Reynolds, a returning state qualifier, is penciled in at heavyweight, though White sounded excited over a competition there with senior Cullen Goter.
“(Cullen) has been injured for two years; it’s been since his freshman year that he’s wrestled,” White said. “Before that, he had many years of wrestling experience in the kids program. It’s just a matter of getting the rust off. He’ll be challenging at the 285 spot.”
The Blue Jays host the Knights of Columbus tournament on Dec. 1, but don’t have a home dual until they host Bismarck St. Mary’s on Jan. 10.
Regardless of where his team is wrestling, White said the main focus is to get off on the right foot.
“I hope we only have one (open weight), and that I really can’t do anything about,” White said. “It makes a big difference going into the season. We keep stressing a fast start. We’ve had a slow start the last few years because of openings. We’re really pushing that.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com