Forde’s Story Far From Over

MOORHEAD, Minn. – Each senior on the Minnesota State University Moorhead wrestling team has their own unique story or lasting impression. For Evan Forde, his lasting impression as a leader and teammate is already well known. His legacy as a Dragons wrestler, however, still has one more chapter left.

Forde is a local product of Fargo, N.D. and the pride of the Fargo South High School Bruins. Before his arrival at MSUM, the Forde name was a well-known part of wrestling in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Evan’s father, Lynn, is the coach of the Bruins wrestling team and was a member of the North Dakota State Bison wrestling team along with Evan’s uncles Bruce Forde and Randy Forde.

Forde was a successful wrestler at Fargo South, placing three times in the state tournament as high as second. Upon his arrival, Forde made an instant mark on the conference, posting a 15-14 record.

Forde has been the Dragons’ captain for the past two seasons, in large part due to his leadership and intensity. For Forde, there is added pressure that comes with being a captain and having the experience of a senior in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“When I was younger, I had to just worry about myself and be ready to wrestle on my own,” Forde said. “Now there is more pressure to have the whole team ready, along with yourself.”

Forde has doesn’t hide the fact that his record since the spring semester has began has been frustrating. Rather, he expects to win the close matches with his experience. The frustration has turned into added motivation to prove how strong of a wrestler he is with his collegiate career nearly at its end.

“The biggest thing is finishing off these last few duals strong,” Forde said. “I’m getting to that point where I’m watching a lot of film on the guys I have wrestled and get to where I’m ready to peak.”

A large part of Forde’s approach is to never give excuses for coming up short. To never blame any struggles on the road being too tough. For Evan, the same applies to the competition the Dragons face year in and year out.

“Having a tough schedule helps us because by wrestling all this tough competition during the year, that’s going to help better prepare you for the post season,” Forde said. “In the end, having a tough schedule and a poor record is better than an easy schedule and a good record.”

It’s not too often you can go to an NCAA Division-II dual and see a wrestler sometimes out yell his coach. But come to a Dragons’ dual and that very well could be the case. Forde does his best to hide the coach with in, but his competitive drive often gets the best of him.

“I don’t pay attention to it but that is what I’m known for,” Forde said. “I can get a little into it but that’s because I want my teammates to win as badly as I want myself to win. It can be more frustrating watching teammates lose because it’s out of your control.” Evan’s voice is usually silent when he wrestles, but his father Lynn is there to kill any silence.

“That’s still the voice I can easily pick out from the crowd, Forde said. “I hear every word he says and I still get good advice from him. He has basically been my coach my whole life.” The lessons Lynn taught Evan extend beyond the mat as well.

“My motto has been to try and live life with no regrets and he has really supported me through that,” Forde said. “If you put 100 percent effort into what you’re doing than no matter what the outcome you can be proud of what you done.” It’s fairly easy for Forde to realize what it’s going to be like when this is all gone.

“You miss the feel of competition a lot, it’s why we are all in this, Forde said. “But I will miss the camaraderie and that team aspect. I know that we (seniors Tallen Wald, Jon Swart, Brady Schneeberger and Evan) can all look back on our struggles together and see how we got through it as teammates. To finish strong with these guys would mean a lot to me.”

Finishing strong begins with the John Sterner Endowment Dual, which means more to Forde than one would begin to think.

“There is tradition here in this wrestling program and the Endowment Dual is a tribute to that tradition,” Forde said. “It’s not just about raising money it’s about putting on a good show for all of those people who support us.” Forde has full control over how much longer he will wrestle; assuring no timetable can end his career.

“That’s why this sport is so great,” Forde said. “If your team isn’t doing so well there is still not limit to how far you can go. I want my team to do well but the only way to help them is by taking care of myself.” With the national tournament nearly a month away, it’s Forde’s chance to leave his mark on Dragons’ wrestling.

“I’ve been in this sport my whole life and I got one month left to see what I can do.”

SJU Finishes Third at UWEC Invite


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – Saint John’s claimed first and/or second in four weights to finish third out of 15 teams at the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational held Saturday, Feb. 12.

Augsburg won the tournament with four wins and a total of 138 points. Wisconsin-Parkside claimed second with 100.5, followed by SJU (79), Wisconsin-Stevens Point (59.5) and Wisconsin-Whitewater (45.5).

Senior Chris Sandy (Spirit Lake, Iowa) cruised through the 141-pound bracket with two pins and back-to-back technical falls, including a 16-0 decision over Augsburg’s Will Keeter in the championship match.

Junior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley), ranked seventh nationally at 184, went 3-0 before double-forfeiting against teammate Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) in the championship match. Baxter avenged his 3-1 loss to No. 6 Brad Baus of Augsburg on Jan. 28 with a 6-3 victory in the semifinals. Hagen, meanwhile, went 3-0 with wins over No. 10 Greg Rhodes of Wabash (Ind.) and top-seeded Todd Becker of Wartburg (Iowa).

Junior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson), ranked fourth nationally at 174, posted a 3-0 record before falling to Luke Rynish of Wisconsin-Parkside, the top-ranked wrestler in Division II, 7-3.

Senior Tony Willaert (North Mankato, Minn./Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial) collected two pins and a technical fall before falling to No. 2 Jared Massey of Augsburg, 7-2 in the championship bout.

Senior Drew Larson (Willmar, Minn.) lost to Parkside’s Dillon Bera, the eventual runner-up, in the semifinals. He and teammate Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) double-forfeited the fifth-place match.

The Johnnies return to the mat in two weeks at the 2011 NCAA Great Lakes Regional, hosted by Lakeland College (Wis.). The meet is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Sheboygan, Wis.

Auggies win title at UWEC Invite


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Claiming four individual champions, the Augsburg College wrestling team won the championship at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational on Saturday at the McPhee Physical Education Center.

Augsburg 149-pounder Tony Valek (JR, Belle Plaine, Minn./Scott West), 157-pounder Orlando Ponce (JR, Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes HS), 197-pounder Jared Massey (SR, Circle Pines, Minn./Centennial HS) and heavyweight Chad Johnson (FY, Ferryville, Wis./De Soto HS) claimed individual titles, with eight other Auggies claiming top-four finishes. The Auggies are ranked No. 3 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national poll.

Valek, ranked No. 5 nationally at 149, collected three first-period pins and two major decisions, including a 9-0 win in the championship match, to earn the title, improving to 30-4 on the season. Ponce, ranked No. 4 nationally at 157, scored two pins and two major decisions among his five wins, improving to 26-5 on the year.

Massey, ranked No. 2 at 197, improved to 12-1 with four victories, including two first-period pins and a major decision, to win his weight class. Johnson also had two first-period pins, including a 27-second match-ender, to improve to 23-8 on the season at heavyweight.

Three Auggies earned runner-up honors — Boyd Suparat (SO, North Branch, Minn.) at 125, Will Keeter (FY, Twin Falls, Idaho) at 141 andBrandon Bahr (JR, Bemidji, Minn.) at 165.

Nick Creamier (JR, Coon Rapids, Minn.) and Niko Bogojevic (FY, Superior, Wis.) shared third-place honors at heavyweight, while Justin Bowland (FY, Foley, Minn.) took third at 165. Mike Orange (SO, Southfield, Mich.) placed fourth at 141, and Brad Baus (JR, Mukwonago, Wis.) placed fourth at 184.

Augsburg closes the regular season with a dual meet at No. 18-ranked Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Friday (2/18) at 7 p.m.

Team Results: 1. Augsburg 138; 2. Wisconsin-Parkside 100.5; 3. St. John’s 79; 4. Wisconsin-Stevens Point 59.5; 5. Wisconsin-Whitewater 45.5; 6. Wartburg (Iowa) 44.5; 7. Wisconsin-Oshkosh 34; 8. Jamestown (N.D.) 33; 9t. Wisconsin-La Crosse 29.5; 9t. Wabash (Ind.) 29.5; 11. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 20; 12. Luther (Iowa) 14; 13. Minnesota-Duluth (Club) 3; 14. Winona State (Club) 2.5.

Augsburg Individual Results:
125 — Josh Roberts 1-1; Ky Olsen 1-2.
133 — Boyd Suparat 3-1, 2nd place; Cody Madsen 3-2; Nathan Lexvold 1-2; Alex Johnson 0-2.
141 — Will Keeter 3-1, 2nd place; Mike Orange 3-2, 4th place; Ryan Cook 0-2.
149 — Tony Valek 5-0, champion.
157 — Orlando Ponce 5-0, champion; Jon Priess 3-2; Tommy Teigen 2-2; Zach Enrico 0-2.
165 — Brandon Bahr 3-1, 2nd place; Justin Bowland 4-1, 3rd place; Tony Castro 1-2.
184 — Brad Baus 3-2, 4th place; Jackson Mboma 1-2.
197 — Jared Massey 4-0, champion.
HWT — Chad Johnson 4-0, champion; Nick Creamier 4-1, co-third place; Niko Bogojevic 3-1, co-third place.

NCAA releases second wrestling coaches’ panel rankings and first RPI

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA released the second of three coaches’ panel rankings and the first Rating Percentage Index (RPI) for the 2010-11 wrestling season. The final rankings and RPI will be two of the tools used as part of the selection process to determine the qualifiers for the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

Wrestlers in each weight class will be measured by Division I winning percentage, RPI and coaches’ rankings to earn spots for the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The coaches’ rankings are compiled by a vote of coaches across the nation. Each qualifying tournament has five coaches rank the top 33 wrestlers in two weight classes. For ranking purposes, coaches must select a wrestler as a starter at a designated weight class. In addition, coaches may only select one wrestler per weight class.

To be eligible for an RPI ranking, a wrestler must have a minimum of 17 Division I matches at a given weight class. The top 33 wrestlers in the RPI are listed for each weight class.

The top-ranked wrestlers at each weight class in the second rankings are: Anthony Robles, Arizona State University (125 pounds); Jordan Oliver, Oklahoma State University (133 pounds); Kellen Russell, University of Michigan (141 pounds); Darrion Caldwell, North Carolina State University (149 pounds); Steve Fittery, American University (157 pounds); Jordan Burroughs, University of Nebraska, Lincoln (165 pounds); Jonathan Reader, Iowa State University (174 pounds); Kirk Smith, Boise State University (184 pounds); Cam Simaz, Cornell University (197 pounds) and Zachery Rey, Lehigh University (Heavyweight).

The full rankings and RPI of each weight class

SJU Travels to Eau Claire Saturday

The Johnnies will travel to the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational this Saturday, Feb. 12. The meet is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Eau Claire, Wis.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIESSaint John’s recorded 14 top-eight finishes at the 2011 North Country Open held last Saturday in Collegeville. The Johnnies earned wins at two weights, posted four second-place finishes and three third’s. Senior Minga Batsukh (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia/St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.), ranked fourth nationally in Division III at 149, won his weight class with four technical falls and a major decision. He collected a total of 50 takedowns in his five matches, including a school-record in his 35-19 win in the opening round. The 17 takedowns broke the old record of 15 set by Scot Doboszenski during the 1992-93 season. Junior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson), the fourth-ranked wrestler at 174 pounds, went 5-0 with a 13-4 major decision in the championship match. Seniors Matt Baarson (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Champlin Park) and Tony Willaert (North Mankato, Minn./Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial), sophomore Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) and freshman Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) all took second in each of their respective weight classes. Baarson, Division III’s top-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds, rattled off three straight pins before falling to North Dakota State’s Steven Monk by a 5-2 decision in the final match. Willaert, ranked ninth at 197, collected three consecutive pins before losing to Minnesota’s Scott Schiller 9-8 due to riding time in the championship bout. Hagen, meanwhile, went 4-0 at 184, including a pin over top-seeded and fifth-ranked Dylan Azinger of Wartburg. He lost to Minnesota’s Joel Bauman by a 7-2 decision in the finals. Seppelt survived the 32-man bracket at 157 and advance to the finals via two decisions and two forfeits. He fell to Minnesota’s Brian Petersen by a 5-3 tally in the championship match. Juniors Dustin Baxter(Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) and Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer), and freshman Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) all finished third. Baxter won his first match at 184 before forfeiting the semifinal to Hagen. He then posted a major decision and won the third-place match via forfeit. Henle went 6-1 on the day, including four wins in wrestlebacks to claim third at 133. Schuler lost his first match of the day, but battled back with six straight wins, including pins in his final three matches. The meet featured a total of 221 wrestlers.

THIS YEAR’S BLUGOLD INVITE: In addition to the Johnnies and Blugolds, this year’s invitational is scheduled to include No. 3 Augsburg, Jamestown (N.D.), Luther (Iowa), No. 3 St. Cloud State (Division II), No. 2 Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Wisconsin-Parkside, No. 18 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (No. 18), No. 17 Wisconsin-Whitewater and No. 1 Wartburg (Iowa).

LAST YEAR’S MEET: Eight of Saint John’s 14 wrestlers placed as the Johnnies finished fourth out of 13 teams. Augsburg won the tournament with 221 points, followed by Wis.-La Crosse (149.5), Wis.-Parkside (126), SJU (109) and Wis.-Oshkosh (93). The Johnnies managed to finish fourth despite not having an entrant at two weights (125, 165) and not having starters in three of the other weights. Batsukh (141), John Vaith (157; Hastings, Minn.) and Willaert all claimed second place. Batsukh cruised thru the first three rounds with two technical falls and a pin before defeating Augsburg’s Cody Hansen 5-4 in the semifinals. The injury defaulted to the Auggies’ Jafari Vanier in the championship match. Vaith collected four wins of his own before falling to Wis.-La Crosse’s Ryan Farwell by a score of 2-0 in the championship bout. Willaert, a traditional 197-pounder, earned pins in his first two matches at heavyweight before defeating Jamestown’s (N.D.) Willie Hernandez 9-5 in the semifinals. He lost to Augsburg’s Andrew Witzel, 1-0 in the championship match. 

Batsukh Named Wrestler of the Week Release

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Saint John’s University senior Minga Batsukh (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia/St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.) was named the Wrestler of the Week on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Minga BatsukhThe two-time defending national champion at 141 pounds and a three-time national qualifier, Batsukh won the 149-pound weight class with four technical falls and a major decision at last weekend’s North Country Open. He collected a total of 50 takedowns in his five matches, including a school-record in his 35-19 win in the opening round. The 17 takedowns broke the old record of 15 set by Scot Doboszenski during the 1992-93 season.

He moved up one spot to No. 3 in the national rankings after defeating then-No. 3 Tony Valek from Augsburg two weeks ago. Batsukh’s only loss this season was to No. 2 Blaine Woszczak of Ithaca (N.Y.).

The Johnnies finish their regular season at the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational this Saturday, Feb. 12.

Jacks return home to face rival Bison

BROOKINGS, S.D. — The South Dakota State wrestling team returns to Frost Arena for the final homestand of the season as the team hosts North Dakota State Friday at 7 p.m. in Western Wrestling Conference action.

Aaron Pickrel leads the Jackrabbits with a 2-1 WWC record and a 24-8 overall record. Pickrel notched four-straight wins at the North Country Open last week to win the 125-pound weight division. Pickrel is 5-0 in falls with the quickest in one minute three seconds. He will not compete Friday against NDSU due to injury. 

This week’s Competition

North Dakota State Bison – North Dakota State enters the weekend 7-4 overall and 1-3 in the WWC. The Bison dropped a dual against Air Force 22-19 and no. 25 Wyoming 35-3 in their last conference action.

Trent Sprenkle, ranked no. 19 by Intermat and no. 22 by the NCAA owns a 26-7 record, including 3-1 in the WWC. Sprenkle lost his first conference bout to no. 18 Michael Martinez of Wyoming Jan. 30, but he won seven of his last eight matches. The sophomore lost only two of 11 dual matches on the season so far.

Vince Salminen, ranked no. 18 by Intermat and the NCAA, is 31-5 on the season and 4-0 in the WWC. The 157-pounder was the lone Bison to tally a win against no. 25 Wyoming in NDSU’s last conference matchup. The senior has won seven of his last eight bouts and has only three dual losses.

The Jacks are 19-34-1 against the Bison all time.

Jacks by numbers – The 11 grapplers on the probable lineup for the matchup against NDSU own 59 wins on the season with 126 bout losses.

As a team, the Jacks won 35 matches by fall with the two quickest falls in 32 seconds (Joe Brewster) and 34 seconds (Cord Willers).

David Michaud and Dustin Walraven claim the most wins by fall, both with a 6-0 falls record. Aaron Pickrel follows with a 5-0 falls record.

The Jacks have 68 wins by decision, 20 wins by major decision and six wins by technical fall.

Wrestlers on Facebook – Fans can show their support for the Jackrabbit wrestlers on Facebook. Log onto to keep up with the Jackrabbit grapplers.

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Jackrabbit Extra – Subscribers to the Jackrabbit Extra on can view select SDSU wrestling matches live on the internet. To subscribe to the Jackrabbit Extra, log onto, select Jackrabbit Extra on the Audio/Video tab and click  “sign up.”

Jackrabbit Insider on FOX and FSN –  “Jackrabbit Insider” airs at 10:30 p.m. Sundays on KTTW FOX 7.  The show can also be seen on FOX Sports North Tuesdays at 6 p.m. CT. FOX College Sports Central will air the program Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. “Jackrabbit Insider” is also available through the Jackrabbit Extra video on-demand service at

Hosted by Tyler Merrium, “Jackrabbit Insider” is a weekly half-hour program that provides Jackrabbit fans with a behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University Athletics.

Last week – Aaron Pickrel and Dustin Walraven tallied top finishes for the South Dakota State wrestling team Saturday in the North Country Open, hosted by Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

No. one seed Pickrel went 4-0 at the tournament to win the 125-pound weight class. He defeated his opponents 52-12, including two wins by decision, one major decision and a technical fall.

No. two seed Walraven went 4-1 in the 149-pound division to place second. Walraven won his first match by fall in 51 seconds against Alex Stepanek of Concordia Nebraska. He went on to win his next match by medical forfeit. He defeated the no. seven seed by technical fall 28-7 in 5:12 before beating the no. three seed by fall 4:47. He dropped the championship match to no. one seed Myanganbayar Batsukh of St. John’s 20-4. 

Next Up – The Jacks wrap up the regular season when they host Utah Valley Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in Frost Arena.