FARGO — Less than 24 hours before wrestling for a 160-pound championship at the North Dakota Class A state wrestling tournament, Fargo Davies' Kolbe Booker and his girlfriend were rear-ended while at a stop.
It was the second time in two weeks the Davies junior was in an accident that left the vehicle he was traveling in was totaled.
Having gone through all that, facing a 3-2 deficit with under five seconds to go Saturday hardly seemed like an obstacle.
Just before time expired, Booker spun Mandan's Kolton Reisenauer to the mat, recording a two-point takedown for a 4-3 win and a state title in his first year with the Davies program.
After moving from Moorhead early in the school year, Booker had to bide his time before even working into the Eagles' lineup. He entered state as the No. 6 seed with just 13 matches under his belt during the season.
Things weren't easy off the mat either. Two weeks after purchasing a truck, he says he collided with another motorist at an intersection where his view was obstructed. His struggles then compounded Friday night, when he and his girlfriend were hit from behind while stopped.
After such an ordeal, did he consider sitting out Saturday?
"Absolutely not," Booker said. "I don't care if I broke my arm, (I was) competing today."
So after a visit to the chiropractor, he was back in action Saturday, securing perhaps the most improbable win of an action-packed weekend.
"I've been through so much this year," he said. "Trials and tribulations. I just had to give it everything I had. I knew all that work would pay off and it paid off. Hardships through hardships and I had to come through it. You push yourself you can do what you want to do."
West Fargo's Pederson claims 182 crown
West Fargo's Cade Pederson rarely felt the need to leave attack mode during a dominant performance over the weekend.
To bring home the 182-pound style, he had to adjust.
Down 1-0 entering the third period, Pederson completed his comeback with a clinching takedown of Minot's Jacob Carmichael, to secure a 3-1, state-clinching win at 182 in Saturday's final at the Fargodome.
In six matches spread over the dual and individual tournaments, Pederson barely had to break a sweat, securing four pinfalls and decisions of 10-3 and 15-4. But the conservative, "kind of funky" style of Carmichael ensured Saturday would be a tighter affair, as the Minot junior prevented Pederson from going on the attack through the first two periods.
The Packer senior narrowly missed a two-point takedown late in the second period, but landed out of bounds, ensuring he would have to come from behind in the final period.
"I was nervous, honestly," Pederson said of having to rally. "You just have to go in with a game plan of knowing you're not going to get as many shots off as you want."
After tying the match with an escape, Pederson finally got a look he wanted and took advantage of a rare shot attempt. With 42 seconds to go, he finally got position on Carmichael and took him to the ground to record the winning points.
"His butt was to the outer circle the whole time which kind of put him on his toes pushing in," Pederson said. That's usually how I like to wrestle. So it worked out."
It was the second state title for Pederson, who also captured the 160-pound crown in 2017.
Jamestown's Vandal wins 220-pound title
If Jametown's Paul Vandal was bothered by being seeded fourth at 220, he didn't let it show.
"Seeds are just seeds," Vandal said. "They don't mean too much. I tried not to worry about that coming into it."
If he did feel slighted, he certainly took it out on his opponents.
Vandal took control of the 220 final from the start, finishing off Isaiah Gates of Fargo South with a pin at the 3 minute, 59 second mark.
It was the third pin of the weekend for Vandal, who advanced with a 10-8 decision over top-seed Jacob Boehm of Mandan in the semis.
Having place no higher than sixth in previous state trips, claiming a championship proved a triumphant end to the senior's wrestling career.
"That's exactly what you work for all the time, to win it all," he said. "It's super exciting. I just love it. It feels great."
With six individual champions, Bismarck won the team portion of the event with a score of 205.5. Dickinson was second with 175.
Bismarck's Ryan Ripplinger was named senior athlete of the year, while Dickinson's Trevor Conrad and Pete Dobitz won coach of the year.