FARGO — West Fargo Sheyenne freshman Connor Manske suffered a season-ending injury at the East Region wrestling tournament last year and missed the state tournament. He broke his collarbone 30 seconds into the conference championship match.
With that well behind him, he came back prepared to leave it all out on the mat at this year’s Class A individual state wrestling tournament at the Fargodome. Manske did just that Thursday.
He won two close matches to earn a spot in Friday’s semifinals after missing the tournament a season ago.
“It feels great. I knew I could do it,” Manske said. “I just had to get it done.”
Manske was at 113 last year and bumped up a few weights. He entered the tournament the sixth seed at 138 pounds, and defeated third-seeded Isaac Felchle (16-3) of Bismarck St. Mary’s to lock up a spot in the semis.
Felchle opened the quarterfinal match with a takedown 30 seconds in. Manske responded with a quick escape point two seconds later. Felchle countered with another takedown 14 seconds later to grab a 4-1 lead, but not for long. Manske picked up a reversal and 3-point nearfall to pull ahead (6-4), but Felchle had an immediate reversal to tie it at 6-6 going into the second period.
After trading reversals in the second period, it was an 8-8 tie going into the final frame.
“I saw that this match was winnable and wasn’t going to give up,” Manske said.
Manske escaped from the bottom position to start the third period, and battled the next two minutes to hang onto his lead. He held Felchle scoreless through the remainder of the final period for a 9-8 decision.
Manske (17-5) faces second-seeded Brant Fisk of Devils Lake (13-1), the 126-pound runner-up at state last year, in the semifinals Friday at the Fargodome.
Manske started Thursday with a bye in the first round, and won an 8-7 decision over No. 11 seed Paden Combs of Minot to advance to the quarterfinals.
Confidence carries Ortiz through quarterfinals
KC Ortiz brought something different to the individual state wrestling tournament this year.
Ortiz, a 285-pound senior at West Fargo, is a seasoned veteran for the Packers, but he hasn’t always felt that way. Ortiz recorded a fifth-place finish at 285 last year, but wasn’t the most confident when he stepped onto the floor at the Fargodome.
“Last year, I came into this tournament really tired,” he said. “I was scared because there were a lot of bigger guys than me. But now coming in this year, there’s no problem. I got this in the bag.”
Ortiz’s newfound confidence and winning mentality helped him outlast fifth-seeded Jacob Burckhard (12-4) of Bismarck Century in the quarterfinals. The fourth-seeded Ortiz (16-0) remained undefeated with the 6-3 decision.
“It’s my last year ever wrestling high school,” Ortiz said. “I gotta give it my all no matter what.”
Ortiz opened the scoring in the match with a two-point takedown a minute and 15 seconds in. Burckhard worked his way to a quick escape eight seconds later, but Ortiz got another takedown late into the first period to grab a 4-1 lead going into the second.
Ortiz knew going into the second period, he’d have to get more shots going. The West Fargo senior used a late second-period takedown to push his lead. A late escape by Burckhard cut the margin to make it 6-2 going into the third.
Burckhard chose bottom and started the third period with another escape, but Ortiz held him scoreless for the remainder of the bout to preserve his win.
“He was standing up a lot, so I knew he was getting gassed a little bit,” Ortiz said. "I just have to thank my cardio. That’s what really did it for me.”
Ortiz had a first-round bye before pinning his way into the quarterfinals. He faces top-seeded Damien Krebs (12-1) of Jamestown in the semis Friday. Ortiz will be joined by teammates Tyler Porter (145) and Nicholas Anderson (152) in the semifinals.
Porter (10-4) used a pin and sudden victory to advance to the semifinals. Anderson (17-3) opened Thursday with a pin and 6-2 decision en route to Friday’s semis.
Fargo North senior Danny Monatukwa (126), Fargo South senior Jacob Thomas (145) and Fargo Davies senior Truman Werremeyer (220) round out the Fargo area wrestlers who earned semifinal bids. Monatukwa reached the semis with a pair of decisions (3-1, 5-1), while Werremeyer used two major decisions (12-2, 8-0) to advance. Both earned first-round byes.
Thomas, who won a state title at 132 last year, registered three wins Thursday by pin, tech fall and decision to advance to the semifinals.