Regional wrestling Saturday in Bowman

When wrestlers from six schools gather in Bowman this Saturday, it will be business as usual for Hettinger-Scranton head wrestling coach Randy Burwick.

Codi Tomac has his challenger right where he wants him.
Codi Tomac has his challenger right where he wants him.

Posted Feb. 6, 2013

By EDDIE HIBBS III

Pioneer Publisher & Editor

When wrestlers from six schools gather in Bowman this Saturday, it will be business as usual for Hettinger-Scranton head wrestling coach Randy Burwick.

The top-seeded Night Hawks are projected to win the regional championship, which includes Killdeer, Watford City, Standing Rock, New Salem and the host Bulldogs.

Burwick, a former national champion for Dickinson State University, collected his 400th dual win as a coach last month for the Night Hawks. He has guided several prep wrestlers to state championships during his coaching tenure. One of his recent champions, a two-time state champion at that, was Sean Elkins, who captured the 138-pound championship during the 2012 Class B State Wrestling Tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center last February.

Burwick hopes to add to his coaching legacy this weekend, and more importantly, offer his athletes a chance at the glory he enjoyed at their age. The Night Hawk coach is a former two-time state champion for Dickinson, a four-time NDCAC Champion and won the national championship for DSU in 1985. Burwick is a member of the North Dakota Wrestling Hall of Fame.

A year ago, the Night Hawks qualified 10 for the state tournament, placing second in the team standings at regionals.

The Night Hawks return several state qualifiers, including:

* Codi Tomac captured the 120-pound weight crown and was the Night Hawks’ first champion a year ago.

* Christian Hughes, who recently returned to action after a hand injury, placed third last year.

* Colbey Steeke made the tournament last year as an eighth-grader.

One team hoping to challenge the Night Hawks is Killdeer. Behind a senior-dominated group last year, the Cowboys edged Hettinger-Scranton for the regional crown. The Cowboys had eight seniors place at the regional tournament last year, and five of them placed at state, helping Kiowa placed third at state duals.

A year ago, six Cowboy seniors reached the regional finals. Logan Schaper and River Voight captured the regional crowns at 126 and 152, respectively. Jerad Lee-Gay (132), Hunter Fredericks (138), Lane Oversen (182) and Grady Houghton (195) each reached the finals, but settled for runnerup. Chris Regeth and Garrett Tabor each placed third, respectively, at 145 and 160

“We lost nine seniors from last year’s squad – not all were varsity,” Killdeer head coach Shane Olson said.

If graduation didn’t do enough of a number of Olson’s squad, an injury to one of the team’s top grapplers didn’t help either. TJ Moore, the team’s only returning regional champion who placed sixth at state, suffered a severe knee injury.

“He’s out until next year,” Olson said.

While last year’s team was senior-dominated, this year’s team doesn’t have a single senior and only one junior, David Dukart. Dukart is ranked in the top four in the state at 195.

Despite the lack of experience, Olson has high goals for his squad.

“We would like to get in the top four as a team,” Olson said. “During the last 14 years, there has only been three times where we were not in the top four. Also, I would like for us to get a few regional champions.”

Going into the regional tournament, only one Cowboy is seeded No. 1 – eighth-grader Daniel Arthur at 170.

Freshman Derek Tabor (younger brother of Garrett Tabor) is ranked third in the state at 126 and has high expectations as well.

By the pre-tournament seedings, seven of the 10 Cowboys competing “should” qualify for state. Olson said he is “looking for more.”

“For this to be a successful weekend, I want us to send at least eight or nine to state,” Olson said.

§§§

For host Bowman County, the first year in a co-op with Beach has benefited both schools. Bulldog head coach Jeff Boynton wants to “up the ante” with Saturday’s event.

“I want us to place no less than second (as a team) and hope to take 11 of our 13 kids to the state tournament,” Boynton said.

Eleven of the Bowman County wrestlers will be seeded for Saturday’s action. Hosting the tournament is only a benefit for the Bulldogs, according to Boynton.

“It should be a huge deal,” he said. “They should be ready to wrestler and they can stay in their own beds. It should be a huge advantage.”

The top four placers at each regional tournament advance to the state tournament. Boynton is looking to send the bulk of the Bulldogs.

“There are two weight classes that are going to be pretty tough,” he said. “We won’t have anyone seeded in those classes, but anything less than 10 qualifying would be a disappointment.

Two of the Beach components to the Bulldog squad are having excellent years – Troy Steele and Jake Hildebrand. If they have solid performances this weekend, they should be in the finals, according to Boynton. In fact, Boynton said it wouldn’t be a surprise to him if he had four grapplers competing in championship matches Saturday.

Bowman County senior Eric Bucholz qualified for state as both a freshman and sophomore, but an injury last year ended his season early.

However, Boynton wants his athletes to have bigger desires than just reaching the “Big House.”

“My ultimate goal is to start placing kids at the state tournament,” Boynton said. “The other – just getting there – is unacceptable.”