Brancale captures North Country Open crown

Ben Brancale led a foursome of Gophers wrestling at Sunday’s North Country Open by winning the 149-title in Collegeville, Minn., on the campus of St. John’s University. The championship was the first tournament title for Brancale since last year’s North Country Open, when he won the 141-pound bracket.

Three other Gophers competed on Sunday: Tijani Karaborni at 174 pounds, along with twin brother Faris Karaborni and Dylan Anderson at 184. All three recorded at least one win on the day, with Anderson going 2-1 and finishing sixth.

Following a first-round bye, Brancale began his march to the top of the podium with a second-period fall over Sam Gilseth (North Dakota State). He followed that pin with another, this one in the early third period of his semifinal match against Alex Wilson (Augsburg). In the finals, Brancale defeated Wilson’s Augsburg teammate, Ryan Epps, in a 13-4 major decision.

At 174, Karaborni picked up his first fall of the season in his opening-round match against Michael Donnay. Karborni’s fall at 4:25 was his first since his 25-second pin of Jacob Flynn in the first round of last season’s Cyclone Open.

Up at 184, the larger Karaborni picked up one win with a 5-3 decision over Josh Bue in wrestlebacks. On the other side of that bracket, Anderson won his first two matches – first a 12-6 decision over Glenn Castro (St. John’s), then a fall at 4:36 against Gage Thom (MSU-Mankato) – before falling one point short against Logan Paxton (North Dakota State), 3-2, in the semis. Anderson medically forfeited the remainder of his matches to finish sixth.

North Country Open Results

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149 – Ben Brancale (3-0, 1st Place)
Champ Rnd 1: Bye
Quarters: Ben Brancale fall (3:30) Sam Gilseth (North Dakota State)
Semis: Ben Brancale fall (5:36) Alex Wilson (Augsburg)
Finals: Ben Brancale maj dec Ryan Epps (Augsburg), 13-4

174 – Tijani Karaborni (1-2)
Champ Rnd 1: Tijani Karaborni fall (4:25) Michael Donnay (unattached)
Quarters: Tanner Schaefer (St. Cloud State) dec Tijani Karaborni, 12-5
Round of 12: Charley Popp (North Dakota State) dec Tijani Karaborni, 3-2

184 – Faris Karaborni (1-2)
Champ Rnd 1: Cole Witzig (North Dakota State) maj dec Faris Karaborni, 15-3
Cons Rnd 1: Bye
Round of 12: Faris Karaborni dec Josh Bue (unattached), 5-3
Cons Rnd of 4: Vincent Feola (North Dakota State) dec Faris Karaborni, 6-4

184 – Dylan Anderson (2-1, 6th Place)
Champ Rnd 1: Dylan Anderson dec Glenn Castro (St. John’s), 12-6
Quarters: Dylan Anderson fall (4:36) Gage Thom (Minnesota State-Mankato)
Semis: Logan Paxton (North Dakota State) dec Dylan Anderson, 3-2
Cons Semis: Cole Witzig (North Dakota State) med. for. Dylan Anderson
5th Place: Vincent Feola (North Dakota State) med. for. Dylan Anderson

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