Hi-Liner wrestlers ready to Rumble on the Red
Note: The original story read that Larson wanted to be the first VCHS wrestler to go undefeated in a season. Since publication, it has been verified that Larson would not the be the first to finish undefeated. This version of the story has been updated to reflect that.
At the beginning of the year, Valley City High School wrestler Brandon Larson set the bar high.
He wants to be the join the short list of wrestlers in school history to finish a season undefeated.
"It was just my goal at the beginning of the season to be the first person from Valley City to ever do that," Larson said.
Over two months into the year, the senior 195-pounder is still undefeated with 13 wins.
But this weekend, when the Hi-Liners head to Fargo for the Rumble on the Red tournament, Larson knows will be key to achieving the goal.
"This tournament is going to be my biggest challenge as far as going undefeated," Larson said. "There are a lot of studs from all around the country.
"I haven't had a close match yet, hopefully that doesn't change."
The tournament will have wrestlers on 19 mats at the FargoDome and bring together some of the best wrestlers from six states — Alaska, Minnesota, both Dakotas, Nebraska and Wisconson — representing sixty teams.
The wrestling goes all day both Thursday and Friday, when the championships take place.
In the Hi-Liners' history with the tournament, only three wrestlers have ever placed.
Two of the three placed last year. Larson took eighth at the tournament due to an injury default in his final match and then-senior Alex Andel took sixth place at 285 pounds.
For comparison, Larson later took fourth place in state. Andel won the state championship and is now wrestling at North Dakota State University in Fargo.
"It's bigger than the state tournament," said Valley City coach Aaron Larson, Brandon's father. "It's not even comparable to our state tournament as far as level of competition.
"There's more teams in this tournament than there are wrestling schools in North Dakota."
Aaron Larson said the team's goal is to place more wrestlers than last year.
Among those he expects to perform well are Shane Undem, who won the 145-pound championship at the Valley City Holiday Tournament Dec. 17 and will wrestle at 138 in the Rumble,
"It will be his first time at 138 so we'll see how he handles the weight cut," Aaron Larson said. "If he does okay with that then he's got an outside shot at making a run and placing."
He also expects good performances from Reed Beckman and Zach Doty.
Doty, a sophomore, is hoping to pick up where he left off in last year's tournament.
As a freshman wrestling at 135 pounds, he had three wins on the first day of the tournament, all by pin.
It was the second day he struggled, partially due to back problems. In his first match he lost by major decision to the eventual second place finisher. In his only wrestle-back match he lost in 12-5 decision to the fifth place finisher. One more win in the tournament would have placed him.
"It just goes from hard to extremely hard kids," he said.
Doty said the experience as a freshman gave him a good feel for what to expect this year.
"This year I'm just going to wrestle my butt off," he said. "I placed in state in North Dakota, I just want to place in this big tournament. You get your name all over."