FARGO - Though his expectations were high once he joined the Bishop Ryan High School wrestling team, Mason Kramer stayed realistic.
"I didn't think I'd be anywhere near the finals in the state tournament," he said.
If those words are true, the first-year wrestler has to be a little surprised at where he's at.
Chris Aarhus/Special to The Daily News
Bishop Ryan junior Mason Kramer looks to the second referee while trying to pin Class B state tournament semifinal foe Michael Kelly of Oakes Friday night at the Fargodome. Kramer won by 7-2 decision to advance to the heavyweight state finals against Carrington’s Cordell Schroeder.
With a 7-2 decision over Oakes freshman Michael Kelly, Kramer punched his ticket to the Class B state finals Friday night at the Fargodome. And as his ability has grown, so has his appreciation for the sport.
"I started wrestling because people told me it would help me in my football career," Kramer said. "I've learned to love the sport and respect it. Maybe it doesn't have the most fans ... but I've learned to love it and had to stick with it."
Kelly provided a stiff test, trying to turn the tables on Kramer's bullish style. It didn't work.
"I knew he was gonna try to tie up with me and probably headlock with overs and unders," Kramer said. "I play that game, too. Let's see who can play the game better and whoever does will win the match. That was kind of the strategy - just wrestle smart."
Kramer has a tough road ahead of him, as he matches up against Carrington senior Cordell Schroeder, who is 41-1 with his only loss coming to nationally ranked Michael Burckhart of Coon Rapids, Minn., at the Rumble on the Red tournament in Fargo right after Christmas. Schroeder won a state championship at 220 last season.
Bishop Ryan has three wrestlers remaining in the tournament. Also still alive are Aaron Sandy (106) and Tyler Allers (220).
The Lions sit in 13th place with 42 points. South Border, which won the state dual title over Linton-HMB, is in first with 141 points. Lisbon is second with 105.5, and Carrington (103.5), Oakes (86) and Central Cass (85.5) rounded out the top five. Velva is the highest Region 3 team with 77.5 points, good for seventh.
The Lions also finished off the Class B state dual tournament on a high note, beating rival Beulah-Hazen 39-37 and Stanley-Powers Lake-Tioga-Ray 43-26 for fifth place.
Daniel Becker (126), Jordan Will (152), Bradan Kalamaha (160), Carson Schell (170) and Allers (220) came away with pins against Beulah-Hazen.
Against the Blue Jays, Leighton Nichols (120), Becker (132), Kalamaha (160), Dakota Johnson (195) and Kramer (285) notched pins.