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Grand Forks' Emily Novak repeats as state wrestling champion

Feb. 16—FARGO — Like she did in 34 of her 35 wins this season, Grand Forks junior Emily Novak repeated as a North Dakota state girls wrestling champion by pinning her opponent.

Novak, the top seed at 155 pounds, repeated as state champion on Friday by pinning Kiera Aguilar of Minot at 2 minutes, 24 seconds of the match.

"At first, it felt like a normal pin and then, oh my gosh, I just repeated at state," Novak said. "It was kind of crazy. I was excited. I wanted to just scream it out everywhere."

Novak ended the year 35-1 with the lone loss to Minnesota state champion Sarah Pulk.

"I think back to the beginning of the year, and she felt the weight of being a defending state champion," Grand Forks co-head coach Matt Berglund said. "She felt every match had to be a perfect match. Midway through the year, I told her she didn't have to wrestle a perfect match. She was just overly critical of herself. That's when she really started rolling. When you're the defending champ, everyone is gunning for you, but she rose to the challenge every single time."

Against Aguilar, Novak had the choice of position to start the second period and chose top.

"She just had a great gameplan," Berglund said. "She's very aggressive. When we got the choice of position, we said let's go top. Sure enough, the girl wasn't able to get out and (Novak) was able to pin her in the second period."

Grand Forks, which finished sixth as a team out of 43 teams, saw four others place at state.

Kaylee Kurz took fourth at 142 pounds, while Kayden Schuman was fifth at 190 pounds, Sky Kopp was seventh at 190 pounds and Kathryn Sullivan was fourth at 250 pounds.

Sullivan, who battled a hyperextended elbow late in the year, went from a No. 7 seed to take fourth. Kopp went unseeded at 190 pounds en route to a podium finish.

Three area Class B wrestlers won titles on Friday. Bode Henderson of Northern Lights beat Tristian Miller of Williams County 9-2 to take the 107-pound title.

Kruiser Burns of Grafton beat Cohen Bell of Stanley in sudden victory in overtime to win at 121 pounds.

Sawyer Owens of Hillsboro-Central Valley beat Alvy Henderson of Northern Lights 5-3 to take the title at 133 pounds.

The Grand Forks Central boys were led by four state placers: Cesar Cruz took sixth at 121 pounds, Brendan Winn-Kelley was fourth at 145 pounds, Michael Norman was eighth at 152 pounds and Eric Stouder was sixth at 285 pounds.

Grand Forks won the team championship and Grand Forks' Taryn Swanson placed first in all-around at the Eastern Dakota Conference Championships on Friday at American Gold Gymnastics in Fargo.

Grand Forks placed first at 141.325, Wahpeton was second at 124.759, Fargo was third at 93.400 and Valley City was fourth at 87.800.

Swanson won all four events and placed first All-Around with 37.700. Teammate Jocelynne Hoefs was second in all four and placed second All-Around at 37.025. Fargo's Jaden Felber was third at 34.325

Swanson won bars at 8.950, Hoefs was second at 8.650 and Felber was third with an 8.350. Swanson posted a 9.400 for first in the vault, Hoefs was second at 9.250 and Felber was third at 9.100.

Swanson placed first on beam at 9.60, Hoefs was second with a 9.575 and Wahpeton's Justice Christian was third at 8.425. Swanson placed first on the floor with a 9.750, Hoefs was second at 9.550 and Felber was third at 9.100.

Swanson, Hoefs, Felber, Wahpeton's Hailee Hanson and Elise Skovholt, and Grand Forks' Brynn Moen and Emma Haskamp were voted to the EDC's All-Conference Team. Swanson was named EDC Senior Athlete of the Year and Grand Forks' Megan Johnson was named EDC Coach of the Year.

The North Dakota State Championships are noon Saturday, Feb. 24, at Dickinson High School.