Girls, boys both hit the mat at Knights of Columbus Tournament
Jamestown High School hosted the Knights of Columbus Wrestling Tournament on Saturday.
Paris Eslick had her answer all queued up and ready to go for anyone who asked her if she was going to be wrestling this winter.
"No I am not going to wrestle, no I am not going to wrestle, no I am not going to wrestle," Eslick said with a laugh. "I immediately shut down anyone who would ask me.
But when you are the daughter of high school wrestling coach, Larry Eslick, resolves can give a little.
"I needed something to do and from the look on my dad's face, you could tell he really wanted me to wrestle," Eslick said. "I said I would try it for a week and if my knees don't hold up, I will stop. They pop out of place every now and again but it's so much fun, I can't stop now."
Eslick and the rest of the Jamestown High School girls and boys wrestling teams, hosted the Knights of Columbus Wrestling Tournament on Saturday. The individual tournament saw five Blue Jay wrestlers, including Eslick, get their first, podium topping wins of the season.
Eslick, Hannah Sjostrom, Aden Braun, Preston Gall and Colton Mewes all won their weight classes. Pete Rasmussen and Grady Anderson also appeared in their weight class title matches.
Eslick opened up the tournament forcing a fall on her fellow teammate Alee Meza, 0:27 seconds into the round. The next go-around the senior went ahead and pinned McKenzie Fincher, of Grand Forks Central to clinch the No. 1 spot. Meza racked up second-place honors while Fincher came in third.
"It feels great, Eslick said. "Now I have the drive to want more, do better things, do bigger things, work harder and drive the other girls to work harder too. I am just glad that today I was able to prove that girls wrestling is a sport."
The North Dakota High School Activities Association announced last spring the sanctioning of the sport of girls wrestling. 2021 is the inaugural year for JHS girls wrestling. 42 Class A and Class B schools that have listed girls wrestling as an official sport. North Dakota is the 30th state high school association to sanction the sport.
Growing up with JHS head coach Larry Eslick, Eslick is pretty familiar with the world that for some, is brand new.
"Our basement had a wrestling mat in it for the longest time," Eslick said. "I wrestled a lot when I was little but I didn't really get into it because no other girls were wrestling. Growing up with that, I know a little bit more than most starting girls and it has helped me.
"I've sat in on the boys' practices and learned their aggression and I've learned that this sport is 90% mental. My game pan today was to tire them out. I was in swimming this fall so I have a lot more endurance. I felt like I was able to tire out the other girls by blocking them and knowing when to shoot and wait for the opportune moment."
After a couple of shots to the feet, Eslick tackled her opening opponent and got on top. A few minutes later, xxx shoulders touched, signaling the win for Eslick.
Eslick said that the competition throughout the tournament, helped the Blue Jays develop a stronger sense of aggression, as, in practice, the team is still working on basic movements and building team chemistry.
"I am super proud of all the girls, they've worked super hard for this," Eslick said. "Sure some girls got pinned, but now they know what to do and what not to do in a live scenario, so it's been great. It's so much fun to be with these girls.
"The guys are doing great too. I am just so proud of everyone."
Aden Braun, last year's state runner-up at 132, has moved up to the 138-pound bracket. The junior got top-honors on Saturday forcing a fall by Devin Halverson of Bismarck High 2 minutes, 40 seconds into the matchup. The title match came after Braun had already come up with at least one win earlier in the day.
"It was a good solid match," Braun said of his opening match. "The first match of the year is always just a little awkward but I worked a few of my moves and everything and it worked out good. It was fun."
In order to prepare for the slightly heavier competition, the junior has been working on building up extra muscle while maintaining his endurance. Braun, along with some of his teammates got into the wrestling room late this season due to the football season prolonging until mid-November.
"Right when we came back, we were a little out of shape but we kind of knew we were going to be out of shape so we pushed each other to keep getting better and getting in better shape with some extra sprinting and weightlifting and stuff."
The push from one another gave the Jays' a little extra fire down the stretch. Braun said beginning with a tournament allows the Blue Jays the opportunity to develop throughout the hours and see an array of competition right out of the gate. Last season, due to COVID-19 protocols, the Jays were only allowed to wrestle duals up until the WDA tournament.
"It looks like the other teams are really excited to get back into competition so that's good that everyone has the drive and everything," Braun said. "Our team was ready to wrestle and we went out there just looking to see what we could do and had some fun."
Individual top finishers / Blue Jay results
106: 1st: Koltyn Grebel (Valley City) won by fall over Jenna Gerhardt (Devils Lake) (Fall 1:27); 5th: Croix Mongeau (Moorhead) won by fall over Aj Matzke (Jamestown) (Fall 1:57).
113: 1st: Abdi Nuur (Fargo Davies) won by decision over Kane Mathiason (Fargo Davies) (Dec 3-1).
120: 1st: Koye Grebel (Valley City) won by major decision over Pete Rasmussen (Jamestown) (Maj 12-2).
126: 1st: Tucker Johnson (Valley City) won by major decision over Logan Mertens (Bismarck High) (Maj 13-3); 7th: Ray Vasquez (Jamestown) received a bye () (Bye).
132: 1st: Wyatt Kosidowski (Fargo Davies) won by decision over Grady Anderson (Jamestown) (Dec 6-2).
138: 1st: Aden Braun (Jamestown) won by fall over Devin Halverson (Bismarck High) (Fall 2:40).
145: 1st: Ethan Miller (Valley City) won by tech fall over Sawyer Frie (Fargo Davies) (TF 15-0).
152: 1st: Cale Ibach (Des Lacs - Burlington) won by fall over Yasser Hussaini (Fargo South) (Fall 1:50).
160: 1st: Kenneth Hanson (Fargo Davies) won by decision over James Marks (Bismarck St Mary`s) (Dec 10-6); 3rd: Brett Miller (Bismarck Legacy) won by fall over Adyn Eckart (Jamestown) (Fall 4:29); 5th: Ben Matzke (Jamestown) won by fall over Anas Moore (Fargo South) (Fall 0:45).
170: 1st: Colton Mewes (Jamestown) won by major decision over Aidan Devine (Fargo Davies) (Maj 10-0).
182: 1st: Preston Gall (Jamestown) won by decision over Isaiah Schuldheisz (Valley City) (Dec 1-0).
195: 1st: Broden Muske (Valley City) won by fall over Zach Lilly (Fargo Davies) (Fall 1:07); 5th: Eric Levin (Jamestown) won by fall over Jameson Messmer (Fargo South) (Fall 0:18).
220: 1st: Jonah Schuldheisz (Valley City) won by fall over Kellen Lafontaine (Grand Forks Red River) (Fall 1:21); 3rd: Bo Nelson (Jamestown) won by fall over Dorian Sandness (Fargo South) (Fall 2:16).
285: 1st: Dylan Carlquist (Fargo Davies) won by fall over Hudson Hodous (Devils Lake) (Fall 2:33); 3rd: Dalton Darby (Jamestown) won by fall over Malakai Robinson (Jamestown) (Fall 1:10).
100: 1st: Jada Kunze, Valley City; 2nd: Grace Weisenburger, Fargo Davies.
110: 1st: Taya Laidlaw, Fargo Davies; 2nd: Marissa Fisher, Jamestown.
120: 1st: Kashtyn Bredahl, Des Lacs Burlington; 2nd: Deegan Kirschenmann, Valley City; 3rd: Kaylee Narmah, Fargo Davies.
130: 1st: Josie Stievwalt, Des Lacs Burlington; 2nd: Leah Torres, Jamestown; 3rd: Aaliyah Karel, Devils Lake.
140: 1st: Abigail Lilly, Fargo Davies; 2nd: Macy Jo Boushey, Grand Forks Central.
155: 1st: Allyssa Johnson, Grand Forks Central; 2nd: Gabby Romans, Jamestown.
170: 1st: Olivia Ochoa, Grand Forks Central; 2nd: Alexis Erickson, Jamestown.
190: 1st: Hannah Sjostrom, Jamestown; 2nd: Koiline Govergo, Fargo Davies; 3rd: Meaghan Lee, Jamestown.
250: 1st. Paris Eslick, Jamestown; 2nd: Alee Meza, Jamestown; 3rd: McKenzie Fincher, Grand Forks Central.