West Fargo wrestler Franek ends historic career with fourth ND Class A state title
FARGO—Jared Franek already was the all-time winningest wrestler in North Dakota high school history. Franek had won three state championships and was wrestling for his fourth.
But Franek still felt nerves. Even as he goes to wrestle for North Dakota State next year, Franek doesn't think those nerves will ever go away.
The West Fargo senior showed no signs of butterflies when he defeated David Peterson of Valley City by fall in 1 minute, 34 seconds for the 160-pound championship at the North Dakota Class A state individual wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Fargodome.
With his fourth state championship of his career, Franek was also named Class A state outstanding senior athlete of the year. Franek finished the season 54-1.
Andre Baguma of Fargo Davies also won the 285-pound championship and Valley City's Logan Erlandson won the 182-pound state championship.
Franek finished his career with 268 wins, which sets the state record for most wins in a career. The previous record was set by West Fargo graduate and Franek's former teammate Jordan Shearer at 259 career wins.
"It feels pretty good," Franek said. "Obviously there's always a little bit of nerves, but I've been here before, so I just had to settle that out and wrestle my match."
In a rematch of the East Region championship in which Franek pinned Peterson in a minute, Franek pressured Peterson from the beginning and never let up. Franek ended up beating each of his opponents in the 160-pound bracket all by fall in a collective 4:43.
"I like where I'm at in high school, but that's done now," Franek said. "College is a whole new ball game. So I have to learn and keep going."
Top-seeded Baguma beat No. 3-seeded Elijah Huff of Minot by a 4-3 tiebreaker in the 285-pound title match to finish the season 43-5. Baguma couldn't sleep the previous night, he said, as he kept going over the championship match in his mind.
Baguma was also drained going into sudden victory. But tied at 2-2 with less than 10 seconds left in what would be the final period, Baguma secured a takedown.
Even though the match wasn't quite over, the 280-pound senior flexed, then bolted and jumped into a coach's arms.
"It came down to who wanted it more, and I wanted it more," Baguma said. "I tried to prove myself. ... It's the best feeling. There's not a feeling like this."
Erlandson, the No. 4 seed, beat No. 2-seeded Trevis LaRocque of Turtle Mountain by fall in 48 seconds for the 182-pound championship. Erlandson said he slept "like a baby" after he beat returning state champ Cade Pederson of West Fargo to get to the title match.
LaRocque appeared to have a near fall early, but Erlandson reversed position and used his favorite move he calls the twister to get on top and get the fall. Erlandson immediately jumped up and pointed at Valley City fans in relief.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," Erlandson said. "I woke up with the mindset that I was going to win a state title. It's my last chance so I'm going to give it my all."
Two-time state champion JJ Harms of West Fargo took runner-up at 138 pounds. Harms, the No. 1 seed who won the 113-pound state title last year, lost to Dawson Zerr of Turtle Mountain by a 5-4 decision. ... Jaden Mairs of Davies, the No. 2 seed, lost to Isaac Berger of Mandan in the 152-pound championship by an 11-0 major decision. ... No. 2-seeded Jacob Thomas of Fargo South lost in a 5-4 decision to Kelby Armstrong of Minot in the 106-pound championship. ... No. 3-seeded Jake Tangen of Valley City lost to Matthew Kaylor of Bismarck Legacy by a 12-0 major decision in the 195-pound championship. Kaylor was Legacy's first individual wrestling state champion. ... Bismarck's Jeff Schumacher and Mark Lardy were named Class A co-coaches of the year. Bismarck won the Class A individual state team championship with 216 points. Minot was runner-up with 205 points and Valley City was third with 140 points.