The Killdeer Cowboys ended the 2015-16 regular last season with one last big tournament.
By Jarann Johnson
Last weekend the Cowboys traveled to the East-West Classic in New Salem.
The East-West Classic is a prestigious tournament and placing high at the tournament usually results in being a resume booster when state tournament seeds are being decided. Killdeer has two wrestlers hoping to repeat as state-placers this season and the East-West offered Derek Tabor and Dillan Jepson a chance to get closer to their season goals.
Tabor wrestled at 170 during the tournament and started well. Tabor topped Carlton Turnquist (Watford City) with a 1 minute and 39 second pin.
The next round also saw Tabor take on another Region 4 wrestler. Tabor didn’t collect a pin but he still dominated the match, collecting an 11-2 win over Issac Anderson (Hettinger-Scranton).
The win pushed Tabor into the semifinals where a formidable foe was awaiting him. Tabor was matched up against Bridger Anderson (Carrington).
Anderson was the state runner-up at 170 last year, so Tabor knew he needed a great effort with near perfect execution to win the match. Tabor battled hard but lost the match 6-2.
Anderson went on to win the tournament but Tabor still had another match to try to up his stock. Yet, again Tabor found himself facing a state runner-up.
Tabor matched up with Jonathon Grunefelder (Napoleon) in the third-place match. Grunefelder was second at 160 last year at state and offered another challenge for Tabor.
Tabor struggled to record points in the match and fell 8-1. The loss resulted in Tabor taking fourth overall at the tournament.
The only other placer at the tournament was Dillan Jepson, Jepson had better luck in the semifinals and made it all the way to the championship round.
Jepson quickly ascended to the championship match. Jepson picked up a 3:11 pin in his first match over Garret Dove (Velva) and in the second round Jepson’s opponent, Jarod Roth (Oakes), forfeited.
Jepson matched up with Kobe Murphy (Standing Rock) in the semifinals. Murphy offered the chance for Jepson to pick up an impressive win.
Murphy, a state-placer at 170 last year, entered the match with 30 plus wins and only two losses. Jepson didn’t let the chance for a big win slip and won 7-3.
The win put Jepson in the finals where Riley Lura (Carrington) was waiting. Lura, another wrestler with 30 plus wins and few losses, offered Jepson a big challenge.
Jepson almost came out on top in the match but lost by a take down 3-1 to the reigning state champ at 182. The loss resulted in Tabor taking second overall at the tournament.
Jaydin Hicks (106), Dylan Tabor (120), Zach Andersen (132), Stephen Westarp (152), Liam McFadden (220) and Curtis Hall (285) participated in the tournament.
Postseason wrestling will start this week with the Region 4 tournament duals on Saturday. Killdeer is hosting the tournament. Hettinger and Beulah-Hazen moved on last year from the Region 4 duals to the state dual tournament.
East-West: 16th out of 24 (48 points)
Tournament placers: Dillan Jepson (182) 2nd and Derek Tabor (170) 4th