Destination Fargo: North wrestlers compete in Junior and Cadet National Championships

The USMC/USAW Junior and Cadet National Championships are better known by its host city.

The world’s biggest wrestling tournament, known simply as “Fargo,” played out in the eastern North Dakota city last week, and two Columbus North wrestlers competed on the big stage for Team Indiana.

“It was pretty awesome,” incoming sophomore Justice Thornton said. “It was nice to represent my state and my school. It was pretty different, but at the same time, it’s still just wrestling.”

Thornton went 2-2 in the Junior (18-and-under) Freestyle division at 132 pounds.

“I felt I could have won a couple of those matches,” Thornton said. “They’re just a little bit stronger. But it wasn’t too bad. It was pretty fun, a lot of good competition. There were lots of good coaches out there.”

Incoming freshman Asher Ratliff went 0-2 in the Cadet (16U) Freestyle division at 138 pounds. He lost 7-3 to a kid from New Jersey and lost by technical fall to teammate from Team Indiana.

“The first one was a tough match,” Ratliff said. “It was tight until the end. It was hard to get back on track after losing that first one.”

Thornton and Ratliff participated in a training camp with Team Indiana prior to leaving for Fargo. Both were happy with the experience competing with Team Indiana and at the national tournament.

“I thought it was awesome,” Ratliff said. “We’ve been a good wrestling state the last few years, and it was a good experience to represent a state that’s one of the best. Just being around that caliber of wrestling and the best of the best I thought developed my wrestling a lot further.”

Ratliff now has turned his attention toward football season. The quarterback is working out with the Bull Dogs, who begin official practice on Monday.

“I love football,” Ratliff said. “It’s just as important to me as wrestling, and I can’t wait until the high school season starts for that.”

Thornton was a sectional and regional champion and semistate qualifier at 126 pounds during his freshman high school season. He wanted to thank North head coach Matt Joyce and assistant coaches Taylor Decker, Adam Wolka and Luke Schroeder. He thinks his time spent with Team Indiana and in Fargo will help him for his sophomore year.

“I’m pretty excited,” Thornton said. “I think we’ll do pretty well this year.”

Ratliff, who has been competing in youth wrestling tournaments for several years, also is eager for his first high school season this coming winter.

“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to,” Ratliff said. “I’ve been around those people in the room and coach Joyce for a long time. I can’t wait to get in there and compete and make a long run in the state tournament.”