FARGO-Ryan Ripplinger didn't get the result he wanted Friday afternoon at the Fargodome, but still secured his best finish on the national stage.
A Bismarck High School junior-to-be, Ripplinger took second place at the USA Wrestling Cadet Greco-Roman National Championships at 126 pounds. Reece Witcraft of Coweta, Okla., earned a 15-4 technical decision against Ripplinger in the title match.
"I'm not happy with how I finished. I wanted the big stop sign," Ripplinger said referring to the plaque you get for winning a national championship. "I wanted to get first. You just come back and you learn from that."
Ripplinger earned All-American honors at the USA Wrestling tournament for a third time. Earlier in the week, he placed seventh in Cadet freestyle. Last year, he earned fourth place in Cadet Greco-Roman.
"I thought he did a very good job," said Josh Kerbaugh, a Team North Dakota coach who is also the head coach at Carrington High School. "He came out every match ready to compete. He wasn't cowering away from any of the competition. He was going out there going full speed, giving it everything he had. I was really proud of him."
Ripplinger is a two-time North Dakota Class A state champion for the Demons, winning state titles as a sophomore at 120 pounds and as a freshman at 113 pounds.
"Wrestling in the offseason in general, it prepares you for the next (high school) season," Ripplinger said. "It just mentally prepares you and physically prepares you."
Witcraft took an earlier 4-0 lead against Ripplinger in the championship, before Ripplinger countered with a 4-point move of his own.
"We really tried to slow (Witcraft) down," Kerbaugh said. "We like the fact that Ryan got that nice 4-point hip toss right away."
Witcraft countered with the next 11 points to earn a 15-4 technical fall in the first period. Witcraft earned second place in the Cadet Greco-Roman tournament last season.
"He was really good with that right-handed underhook and he buried his shoulder down deep and he got that really tough," Ripplinger said. "I had to get wrists and I didn't do that and I didn't execute the game plan. He beat me on positioning and ended up winning the match. ... It hurts, but you just got to go home, reevaluate and watch film."
While disappointed after the championship match, Ripplinger said he will use the experience as motivation for the future.
"I'm going to go back home and work even harder and come back next year and hopefully win the big one," Ripplinger said. "I love all wrestling. Wrestling is my life and I love everything about it. I don't really care as long as I'm wrestling and winning matches."
Cadet Greco-Roman championship results
88: Chance Lamer, Corvallis, Ore., VFA Nathan Rubino, Omaha, Neb., 10-0.
94: Carter Young, Bixby, Okla., VSU Danny Curran, Warrenville, Ill., 10-0 0:50.
100: Yusief Lillie, Bonney Lake, Wash., VPO1 Andrew Chambal, Millington, Mich., 4-1.
106: Dylan Ragusin, Elk Grove Village, Ill., VPO1 Matthew Ramos, Lockport, Ill., 4-3.
113: Hunter Lewis, Stoughton, Wis., VFA Conor Knopick, Omaha, Neb., 10-0 2:05.
120: Phillip Moomey, Kearney, Neb., VPO1 Fabian Lopez, DeKalb, Ill., 13-9.
126: Reece Witcraft, Coweta, Okla., VSU1 Ryan Ripplinger, Bismarck, 15-4, 2:01.
132: Carson Manville, Shakopee, Minn., VPO1 Joshua Sanders, St. Louis, Mo., 5-1.
138: Kevon Davenport, Pontiac, Mich., VPO1 Colby Njos, Anoka, Minn., 6-3.
145: Michael Weber, Forsyth, Mont., VPO1 Franky Almaguer, Granger, Wash., 4-2.
152: McKay Foy, Altamont, Utah, VFA Aaron Gandara, Somerton, Ariz., 8-0 1:49.
160: Carter Starocci, Erie, Pa., VPO1 Dalton Andrist, Kasson, Minn., 6-1.
170: Abe Assad, Carol Stream, Ill., VPO1 Tyler Hannah, Genoa, Wis., 2-1.
182: Jonathon Fagen, Fruitland, Idaho, VPO1 Grant Parrish, Forest Lake, Minn., 14-8.
195: Ashton Sharp, Kansas City, Mo., VPO Peter Christensen, Harwood Heights, Ill., 4-0.
220: Braxton Amos, Mineral Wells, W.V., VSU Luke Luffman, Urbana, Ill., 10-0 0:47.
285: Eli Pokorney, Chesterton, Ind., VPO1 Logan Zschernitz, Spencer, Wis., 14-7.