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Holding his own: JHS grad Gumke performs well at nationals

Eathan Gumke was taken aback by the different atmosphere at the USA Junior National Duals the last week of June in Oklahoma City.

It wasn’t a weekend, and it was a long way from home.

“With all the national tournaments you expect there to be a lot of fans, but there’s really not,” said Jamestown’s Class A state champion at 195 pounds. “It’s right in the middle of the week and it’s a smaller gym.”

The Freede Center on the campus of Oklahoma City University holds around 3,300 fans, but that’s not what was ultimately important to Gumke. It was all about the mats.

Gumke was in the starting lineup for Team North Dakota and he fared well. He finished 5-0 in Greco-Roman competition, with Carrington’s Riley Lura subbing in to wrestle the other two matches.

The unbeaten record earned him a spot on the Greco-Roman all-tournament team, along with Adam Blees of Bismarck High. Jordan Shearer of West Fargo and Ryan Blees of Bismarck High made the freestyle all-tournament team.

Both North Dakota teams finished in the bottom third.

“There were good kids on every team,” Gumke said. “It was the best of each state.”

That included the much-heralded Dixon triplets of Oklahoma. All three brothers had a chance to go to Oklahoma State or Iowa, but chose Oklahoma instead.

“Yeah, they were pretty good,” Gumke said with a laugh.

Gumke was also 3-3 in the freestyle tournament, though he acknowledged that he favors Greco-Roman because of its upper-body style.

“I like it more because you can get bigger throws,” he said. “Freestyle is much more spontaneous. You can end a match in 10 seconds, and I’m not really one of those fast-paced guys.”

Gumke said getting into shape wasn’t difficult, but wrestling-shape is another matter altogether.

“You put on summer pounds, but it’s easier to get it off because you can just run outside — the heat helps a lot,” Gumke said. “Then we went to Fargo for a two-day camp. … There’s a wrestling shape that you’ve got to get yourself in to go a full six minutes. You can’t just throw yourself in there. The first couple matches were challenging. You get winded pretty easily.”

He intends on continuing his education at North Dakota State in the fall, as he received a Presidential Honor Scholarship.

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached                    at (701) 952-8462 or