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'Feels fantastic': Blue Jays get first home dual win Thursday

The Jamestown High School boys wrestling team hosted Dickinson on Jan. 12.

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Jackson Walters was the winner of his match against Dickinson on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Jerry Meyer Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Aden Braun has been on the sidelines at every one of the Blue Jay wrestling team's matches this season.

Thursday night just hit the Jamestown High School senior a little differently.

"There was a lot of build-up and excitement leading up to this match," Braun said. "It was my first match back wrestling with the team and I just wanted to focus on what I do on the mat and things like that because that's when I am at my best. It was cool to be back out there."

Braun's first dual back ended up as a win for the Blue Jays.

The Jays took down Dickinson 52-19 to improve to 2-2 in the West Region and 5-4 overall. Thursday kicked off a huge four-dual weekend for the Jays. The team is slated to take on Bismarck Century in Bismarck on Friday and will end the weekend with road duals against Williston and Watford City on Saturday.

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"This was the right start that we wanted," JHS head wrestling coach Larry Eslick said. "This weekend will kind of make or break a lot of the positioning for the state dual tournament. It will kind of determine whether we go back or not but I told the kids that there was no pressure heading into tonight — we just told them to wrestle the match in front of them.

"I think that showed tonight," he said. "We wrestled loose, we were aggressive — it was just a great night."

In the third and final coaches wrestling poll, the Blue Jays had a team record of 11 wrestlers ranked out of 14 weight classes. As a team, the Jays were pegged as the No. 3 team out of the WDA and the fourth in the state.

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The Jamestown High School boys hockey team has 13 seniors on its roster this season. It's the largest senior class the sport has had in almost 20 years.

Jackson Walters 15-0 record pinned him as the state's No. 1 wrestler at 182 pounds. Grady Anderson and Colton Mewes were ranked second in their respective weight classes while Pete Rasmussen, Braun and Dalton Darby were picked third in the 126, 138 and heavyweight divisions.

Rasmussen and Darby have been competing all season but Braun, due to a couple of nagging injuries sustained during the football season, has been out of the Jays' lineup the past month.

But in Braun's words:

"I'm back."

Braun, the Jays' starting 138-pounder, matched up against Dickinson's Cash Crimmons. The defending 138-pound state champ took an early 11-3 lead and while he easily could have notched a pin, Eslick said the Jays' goal for Braun and the Jays' 145-pounder, Grady Anderson, was to last the entire six minutes.

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"We wanted them to wrestle a full match just for mat time and their lungs," Eslick said. "Not getting the pins is not necessarily a bad thing. We wanted a full, good match so we could get ready for the weekend. We knew we had things under control, we weren't going to lose them but we wanted to control them."

Braun got past the first period but the refs signaled the end of the match midway through the second period. Braun wound up winning his match by technical fall.

"I felt pretty good," Braun said. "The kid I was wrestling was in his first year so I figured I would work on my takedowns and my offense and stuff like that. The kid still moved around really well and you can never overlook a kid because you never know so I went out there, stayed confident with my moves and adjusted to what he did and did what I do."

Braun was one of eight ranked Blue Jay wrestlers to notch a win Thursday.

Mewes took his sweet time notching the 9-1 major over Hugh Meyer in the 170-pound match while Walters took a whole 57 seconds to pin Justin Wardell.

Sam Schlepuetz was named the No. 4 wrestler at 132 pounds while his younger brother, Lucas, was picked fifth at 120 pounds.

Lucas battled the state's No. 3 wrestler, Gage Glaser, for the full three periods and only ended up giving up a decision to make it 34-19 Jays. Jamestown won the next two matches with Rasmussen winning 6-0 over Wyatt Turner and Sam pinning Gavin Morel to put the Jays up 43-19.

Moving down the rankings, Bo Nelson and Eric Chea, both juniors, were ranked sixth at 195 and 152 pounds. Chea kicked off Thursday's dual with a pin of Thomas Meyer.

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"Eric has come so far," Eslick said. "We knew the technique was there, we know the athleticism was there — it was just the confidence factor for him — making him believe that he can do it and that he can compete with anyone in the state. To get him noticed in the rankings for the first time ever was huge for him. He's been a huge sparkplug for us and has come along wonderfully."

"Eric is probably one of the most entertaining wrestlers I have ever seen in my life," Braun added. "His funk and the little spark that he has — you don't see that too often in wrestling and it's pretty fun to watch. "It's literally like a huge boost when someone gets a pin. It gets us going and motivated and it's really good for the team."

Nelson, the Jays' former 220-pound starter, has seen hardly any action this year but was back ready to go for the team's first home dual.

"Huge credit to him," Eslick said of Nelson. "For the last three weeks, he's been cutting a lot of weight and for the team, he got down to 195. That was his first match back — and it was a good one against a good guy. (Bo's) a good wrestler. He got some mat time tonight and now it's just about getting the rust knocked off. It was huge to have him in the lineup tonight."

The only downside for the Jays came in the lighter weights. Dickinson's 106 and 113-pounders Jake Glaser and Aidan Dahmus forced pins of Jack Schauer and AJ Matzke.

"We knew that they were tough there," Eslick said of Dickinson's lighter weights. "I think that we could wrestle a little bit better with them next time. Wrestling is all about coming back from adversity. Wrestling is all about wins and losses during a match or during a dual. These kids are battle-tested so when we hit a little bit of a hiccup there as we did at 106 and 113, these kids are pretty quick to rebound and pick their teammates up."

Still, a couple of pins from a tough WDA opponent wasn't enough to bring Eslick down.

"It feels fantastic to not have to wonder about who you are going to shift or who's going to be ready or what JV kid you've got to throw in there," Eslick said. "We did a great job the first half (of the season) holding it together and staying competitive and I give a lot of credit to the guys who sacrificed themselves filling in open holes and all of our JV kids who were kind of the sacrificial lambs (but) it's nice to have all of our main guys back — it's been a long time coming. It was awesome and nice to win our first home dual that way."

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Jamestown's Grady Anderson, right, gains some back points against Conrad Kopari of Dickinson during high school wrestling action Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Jerry Meyer Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Jamestown 52, Dickinson 19

152: Eric Chea (JAM) over Thomas Meyer (DIC) (Fall 1:36)
160: Adyn Eckert (JAM) over (DIC) (For.)
170: Colton Mewes (JAM) over Hugh Meyer (DIC) (MD 9-1)
182: Jackson Walters (JAM) over Justin Wardell (DIC) (Fall 0:57) 195: Jackson Melvin (DIC) over Bo Nelson (JAM) (MD 9-1)
220: Ethan Gall (JAM) over Landon Fichter (DIC) (Fall 3:55)
285: Dalton Darby (JAM) over Ethan Halvorson (DIC) (Fall 2:56) 106: Jake Glaser (DIC) over Jack Schauer (JAM) (Fall 1:54)
113: Aidan Dahmus (DIC) over AJ Matzke (JAM) (Fall 1:15)
120: Gage Glaser (DIC) over Lucas Schlepuetz (JAM) (Dec 7-2) 126: Pete Rasmussen (JAM) over Wyatt Turner (DIC) (Dec 6-0) 132: Sam Schlepuetz (JAM) over Gavin Morel (DIC) (Fall 0:36)
138: Aden Braun (JAM) over Cash Crimmins (DIC) (TF 19-4 1:56) 145: Grady Anderson (JAM) over Conrad Kopari (DIC) (MD 13-4)

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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