BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — The KX Sports team — along with their committee of former coaches, athletic directors, and leaders from our community — have picked four of the best wrestlers in western North Dakota to be nominated for Wrestling Athlete of the Year at the KX Sports Awards. Here are the nominees:
Nicolas Enzminger (Legacy, 106 champ, 42-2): Enzminger has been slowly moving up in state wins, placing 4th at the 2020-21 championships and 3rd at the 2021-22 state championships. He took first in the 2023 NDHSAA Boys Wrestling Individual State Championships. In March 2023, Enzminger took second at the National High School Coaches Association tournament in Virginia.
Ben DeForest (Bismarck, 120 champ, 29-2): A wrestler for more than 10 years, Deforest has made his mark in a highly competitive program at Bismarck High. In February, it took DeForest just 40 seconds to win the 120-pound final at the West Region wrestling meet in Williston, helping the Bismarck Demons win the title. A week later, Deforest and the Demons won a fourth consecutive Class A dual state championship. “The coaching is great,” Deforest said in an interview with HiHerald Online. “They are always pushing us to become better on the mat, and just life in general.”
LJ Araujo (Bismarck, 160 champ, 42-0): Wrestling is a family affair for Araujo. In addition to his participation in the sport, his sister, Julia, wrestles on the Bismarck Demons girls team. Their friendly family rivalry helps motive both to excel: LJ has won state titles in the 8th, 9th and 10th grades. He also won the 152 pound title in the Junior division at the 2023 USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Coy Okerson (Bishop Ryan, 285 champ, 45-0): The 2022-23 Bishop Ryan wrestling season was a spectacular one for Okerson. grappled to an undefeated season (45-0)and brought home a state title and, later, won a state title at the North Dakota Wrestling State Championship. Okerson was also named to the 2023 Region 3 Northwest Conference All-Conference Team in February.
Who do you think will win this year’s Wrestling Athlete of the Year award? Tune in June 6 to the KX’s Sports Awards to find out!