FARGO — Strong depth by Grand Forks Central proved too much for the rest of the Eastern Dakota Conference wrestling teams to overcome Saturday.
With a match-high eight wrestlers reaching the final round, the Knights squeaked by Fargo Davies 223-217.5 to capture a championship at the Class A East Region Tournament at Fargo North Saturday.
Though they didn't have much success in the final round, going just 1-7 in championship matches, the Knights had more than enough firepower to hold off an Eagle team that earned title wins at the 113- 145- and 152-pound classes.
Clayto Nissko got Davies off to a nice final round start at 113, recording a late two-point take down for a thrilling 9-7 win over West Fargo's Cole Irwin.
Ty Weber and Brody Mohr then earned consecutive pinfalls. Weber pinned Mike Erickson of Central while Mohr defeated James Fisk of Devils Lake.
Though the Knights claimed just one individual title, it came in one of the most anticipated match of the day. In a battle between the top-two wrestlers at 170, second-ranked Will Rohrich jumped out to an early lead then implemented an effective, avoidance-heavy strategy for much of the match, recording a 4-0 shutout of top-ranked Jaden Mairs.
Despite feeling like they had a chance to come out on top, Eagle wrestlers say they weren't at all disappointed by their tournament showing.
"I was very impressed with how we performed," Mohr said. "I did not expect us to do that well. But we wrestled like we wanted to win, which is what you need to do in this situation."
It's going to take more than want-to to advance through the winner's bracket at next week's state tournament at the Fargodome. Awaiting the Eagles in the Class A team opener is top-ranked Bismarck, the three-time defending state champions.
Acknowledging the task in front of his team, Eagle coach Keenan Spiess says he's optimistic his wrestlers won't enter a tough environment feeling intimidated.
"As long as our kids go out there and they are prepared and they don't wrestle afraid, that's all I ask," he said. "Wrestle to win, don't be afraid, don't roll over for them."
Behind wins at 106 and 182, West Fargo, the defending region champion, came in third with a score of 208.5.
After going through the regular season unbeaten in EDC dual matches, Tyler Porter kept that streak going Saturday, capping it off with a 9-4 win over Fargo South's Ashise Gurung.
Cade Pederson also continued his dominant season, earning pins in the opening two rounds before grabbing a 10-2 major decision over Central's Cameran Bridgeford en route to winning Outstanding Senior honors.
With two of the top-three competitors squaring off, the 195-pound match between No. 2 Shane Kennedy (West Fargo Sheyenne) and No. 3 Josh Krump (Wahpeton) lived up to the hype.
After a dominant start, highlighted by an early near-fall, Krump jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Kennedy rallied all the way back, jumping ahead 7-5 with a near fall of his own before holding Krump off in the final period to escape with a 7-6 victory.
After getting knocked out of position early, Kennedy successfully kept his poise, knowing he had plenty of time to bounce back.
"Everyone gets caught," he said. "I wasn't really worried. I've come back from larger deficits before. I just wrestled my game and came out on top."
Fargo North, which placed sixth, finished with two individual champions in Danny Monatukwa and Chase Hansen. Monatukwa beat Josh Isassi of Central 8-5 in the final, while Hansen edge West Fargo's Tanner Nein 3-2.
Isaiah Gates earned Fargo South a championship in 220, executing a swift takedown into a pinfall of Central's Grant Sullivan at the 3 minute, 40 second mark.
Central's Jeff Welsh earned Coach of the Year honors.
Team scores: 1. Grand Forks Central 223, 2. Fargo Davies 217.5, 3. West Fargo 208.5, 4. Valley City 177, 5. Devils Lake 167, 6. Fargo North 106, 7. Wahpeton 85.5, 8 (tie). Fargo South and West Fargo Sheyenne 79, 10. Grand Forks Red River 40
106: Tyler Porter, WF, def. Ashise Gurung, FS, 9-4
113: Clayto Nissko, FD, def. Cole Irwin, WF, 9-7
120: Brant Fisk, DL, def. Braydon Williams, GFC, 2-0
126: Danny Monatukwa, FN, def. Josh Isassi, GFC, 8-5
132: Chase Hansen, FN, def. Tanner Nein, WF, 3-2
138: Parker Larson, VC, def. Alec Humble, GFC, medical forefit
145: Ty Weber, FD, def. Mike Erickson, GFC, by pinfall, 5:42
152: Brody Mohr, FD, def. James Fisk, DL, by pinfall, 3:44
160: David Peterson, VC, def. Kolbe Booker, FD 13-8
170: Will Rohrich, GFC, def. Jaden Mairs, FD, 4-0
182: Cade Pederson, WF, def. Cameran Bridgeford, GFC, 10-2
195: Shane Kennedy, WFS, def. Josh Krump, W, 7-6
220: Isaiah Gates, FS, def. Grant Sullivan, GFC, by pinfall, 3:40
285: Jaden Oestern, VC, def. Brody DeFoe, GFC, by pinfall, 5:39