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Ridgview, Culver transfers shake up Madras White Buffalo wrestling with high expectations.

STEELE HAUGEN - Freshman Elijah McCourtney warms up during practice. He is looking at making a name for himself immediately in the high school ranks. The Madras White Buffalo wrestling team will be young and filled with transfers. A lot of new blood has arrived and the Buffs are ready to work.

"We have a lot of young kids and several that transferred in," said head MHS wrestling coach Cameron Mitchem. "That has infused some talent right away. There were 17 eighth-graders that wrestled at the Jefferson County and K-8 (Warm Springs Academy) and we now have a bulk of them."

"We will be quite young, but will have some experience," he said. "Even the freshmen coming in have wrestled quite a bit. Reece White this year went to Fargo as a cadet and Bailey Dennis, who is a transfer junior and a multiple Fargo participant, has been on the podium."

The Fargo National Wrestling Championships is a premier youth wrestling even in Fargo, North Dakota. Every summer wrestlers or "cadets" and "juniors" travel to the Fargodome to test their skills against the best in the county in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

"We had a couple transfers come in, a couple state qualifiers last year," said Mitchem. "I think it is realistic to have two state finalists out of this group. I would like to see a half a dozen state qualifiers and have some of those younger kids qualify and return. Our team goal is, I would like to place two or three in our regional tournament."

"Bailey Dennis is transfer from Ridgeview. She is a two-time state champion and Fargo national champ," he said. "Victor Torres has been a state champ and a runner-up. Orlando Torres has been in the finals twice. I wouldn't expect anything less from those guys."

"Our returning guys, Kody Zemke and David Sumner, have a shot at making the state tournament and placing," he said. "They had a successful football season and usually that progression can come from their sophomore year to their junior year should carry over into the wrestling mat."

STEELE HAUGEN - Victor Torres warms up during his first week wrestling for Madras. Torres was a 2A state champion at Culver High School.Victor Torres (senior) is a 152-pound state champion wrestler transfer from Culver High School and his younger brother Orlando Torres wrestled at 126 pounds at Culver. He is a two-time finalist. Kody Zemke placed sixth at districts last year as a 182-pound sophomore.

"I have the same expectation," said Victor Torres. "The object doesn't change and the overall goal doesn't change. Coming from Culver does add a bit of extra pressure. If I was a state champion from another school, people would think I am just a small 2A champ, but because it is so affiliated with wrestling, it makes people expect a lot from me. That is OK; I like the pressure."

"The only thing that changes is I am going to work harder this season," Torres said. "If you want to be a state champion, it is all a mindset. It is what you think in your mind. If you believe you are going to do something, mostly likely you are going to do it. If you don't believe it, it most likely won't happen."

"The expectation is for kids to come here and try their hardest, come in and work," said Kody Zemke. "A goal for me would be to place top three in districts, maybe top six at state. Our middle school coaches did great work with these freshmen. We have a lot of good younger kids. I have high expectations. The team needs to work hard and keep the right mindset."

"Were going to compete the entire time we are on the mat," said Mitchem about the team's values. "Win, lose, or draw, they know they have been in a match and our guys are going to come out, be respectful, compete, give their all from the first whistle to the last whistle."

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