Fargo Davies wrestling team ready to contend as Eagles earn state tournament berth for 11th time
Junior Dylan Carlquist and eighth grader Wyatt Kosidowski are two of the top-ranked grapplers in North Dakota in their respective weight classes
FARGO — The Fargo Davies High School wrestling team will enter familiar territory Thursday when the North Dakota state wrestling tournament gets underway.
The Eagles have advanced to the state tourney for the 11th time in as many years, ready to contend for strong finishes at both the dual and individual competitions.
"That's not easy to do year after year," said Davies head coach Keenan Spiess. "We definitely want to get into that semifinal round. If we can get into the top five at states, that would be good. Bismarck High is still the team to beat, obviously. They're a national power you could say. But everybody else is sort of fighting for spots after that."
The Demons have won the dual competition six of the last seven years. Last year, Davies fell to Bismarck Century 47-33 in the quarterfinal round.
This time around, the No. 10-ranked and third-seeded Eagles will square off with No. 2-ranked and two-seeded Minot in the quarterfinals.
"We're going in there just trying to respect our opponent, but not expect to win," Spiess said.
The Eagles earned a third-place finish in last weekend's Eastern Dakota Conference meet with a team score of 200.5, behind West Fargo with 222.5 and West Fargo Sheyenne with 258.5.
While the Eagles will look to have some success in the dual competition, they're projected to see it in the individual brackets as well. Davies qualified 16 wrestlers for the tournament this year, three of whom are ranked in the North Dakota Class A Coaches' Poll.
Junior Dylan Carlquist is the top-ranked wrestler in the 285-pound weight class, while eighth grader Wyatt Kosidowski is ranked No. 2 at 126 pounds. Abdi Nuur, a senior, comes in at No. 6 in the 106-pound class.
Carlquist placed sixth in last year's individual competition. With a record of 40-3 this year and the four wrestlers who advanced to last year's 285-pound semifinals now graduated, he may be considered the favorite going into this year's competition.
"I'm feeling confident, but also at the same time, I'm not going to act like I'm better than everybody," Carlquist said.
Despite seeing most of the wrestlers in his bracket throughout the season, Carlquist said past results are out the window now.
"Everybody gets better," he said. "I've just got to get that mentality that I've got to work harder and get better."
Carlquist knows he's considered a favorite but is well aware a berth in the final is still three long matches away.
"Just one match at a time," he said. "Don't ever focus on the future match. If I focus on the future match, then I'm not going to be ready for the match that's right in front of me."
Carlquist, the East Region No. 1 seed, will square off with Bismarck Legacy junior Haaken Jacobsen (13-14) in the first round on Thursday.
For Kosidowski, it's his second year wrestling at the high school level and second year qualifying for the state tournament. Kosidowski earned a fifth-place finish in the 113-pound weight class last year and is competing in the 126-pound card this year.
Kosidowski will face Bismarck Legacy sophomore Jimmy Shar (7-24) in Round 1. Standing in his way? Minot junior and West Region top seed Gabe Mortensen, who holds a record of 45-7 and is the No. 1-ranked grappler in the 126-pound class.
"I get nervous, but one match at a time," Kosidowski said. "You've got to take it one match at a time."
Nuur is an East Region No. 3 seed in the 106-pound bracket and holds a record of 26-14. He'll battle Bismarck Legacy freshman Walker Sabot, an 11-8 No. 6 seed, in the first round.
Up and down the roster, Spiess said he has a deep squad capable of success this weekend.
"We have a pretty balanced team," he said. "We're pretty balanced up and down the weights. We qualified 16 of our 17 wrestlers to states, so that's pretty cool. We've got a top-ranked guy and a second-ranked guy and about seven or eight guys that could place, which is a good number. If we get more than that, that would be awesome. Otherwise, we'll get the most experience that we can out of it for the future, as well."
Spiess added that the beauty of wrestling is that if athletes don't place in the individual competition, there's still the dual competition to look forward to.
"I think it's a great part of wrestling because wrestling is an individual sport," he said. "So individuals have the first two days (of the state tournament). Then Saturday, you get to see what team brings it together and there's nothing like that. It's so exciting because a kid that doesn't make it to states or places in individuals can still contribute to their team in a big way in the duals, so that's pretty cool."
The North Dakota state wrestling tournament kicks off Thursday and runs through Saturday. Individual finals begin at 6 p.m. Friday with introductions beginning at 5:30. Dual competition finals begin at 3 p.m. Saturday.