The North Dakota High School State Wrestling Duals had a team no one expected to see. 


In recent years, St. Mary’s struggled to fill their roster. Teams need a wrestler for 14 different weight classes and St. Mary’s frequently had to forfeit duals because they did not have enough competitors.


“About three, four years ago we had 10 or 12 kids out for wrestling,” St. Mary’s Athletic Director, Bruce Schumacher said, “now we’re up over 30.”

It was evident that the 2020-2021 team was special. Lead by senior Reece Barnhardt who entered the season with three state championships already, this team looked like a team that could compete at Duals. 


“After Christmas,” St. Mary’s head coach Luke Mellmer said, “we knew it was going to be something that could happen.”


“They are so determined,” said Mary Richter, the mother of a wrestler on the team. “100 percent effort no matter what they are doing inside the wrestling room and outside.”


The same team that was excelling on the mats also had nine individuals named to the 2021 Wrestling Academic All-State Team.


“The team always strives to be better,” Richter explained, “not just in the sports aspect but in school and becoming a better person.”


With a huge against the Legacy Sabers on January 29, they clinched their spot at Duals. Duals is a huge benchmark for the best wrestling teams in the state.


When asked about what the wrestlers did for him, Mellmer said, “buying into me and

the coaching staff,

[and] buying into each other, really [helped] everyone out.”


Mellmer won coach of the year. Barnhardt won the Powerade State Senior Athlete of the Year for Class A Wrestling. The St. Mary’s Wresting team finished in fifth place in the 2021 Class A individual State Wrestling Tournament.


This story appeared in an edition of the Larks gameday Playball program.

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